Knowledge: Sector insight - IT/Telecoms

Experiential has moved to the fore in the tech world, but activations require a human touch.

Being perceived as a ‘tech brand’ has never been more in vogue
Being perceived as a ‘tech brand’ has never been more in vogue

Hardly a month goes by without another smartphone launch or a new tablet coming onto the market, promising to be the next big thing. With huge competition in the telecoms and IT space, standing out is paramount. Brands, therefore, are increasingly turning to experiential to achieve this and more.

Mike Thorne, product director at marketing insight firm Pearlfinders, says there has been a ten per cent increase in IT brands in the UK discussing the use of experiential compared with last year, and he anticipates this will translate into impressive activation budgets.

"Being perceived as a 'tech brand' has never been more in vogue," he adds.

"We're being told by businesses such as Mastercard that they are keen to reposition themselves as tech companies as they plan the experiential activation of their partnerships."

In January, findings from the Pearlfinders Global Index 2015, an analysis based on annual interviews with 10,000 marketing budget holders from across Europe, the United States and Asia, showed that consumer electronics was one of the top five sectors for use of experiential in the latter two regions.

Personal touch

Sam Moqbel is business leader, brand partnerships and activation at agency Cheil UK, which has developed experiential campaigns for Samsung, including a recent three-week takeover at Harrods. He says that when tech brands are using experiential, interaction with the technology needs to feel 'human'.

"We see the trend for technology brands being more organic, more complementary to people's lives and concentrating on innovation and convenience rather than the technology," he explains. "At Cheil we talk about 'ideas that move', which means creating agile experiences that are adaptable to whatever way technology evolves."

Agency Sledge has worked on experiential campaigns with a number of telecoms and computing brands, focusing on mass sports fan engagement. Its chief executive, Nic Cooper, says the engagement factor must stand out.

"It has to offer real interactivity with the brand and has to deliver on its promise, especially coming from a technology brand, where the bar is set that bit higher," he says. "Naturally consumers expect activations in the IT sector to be more technologically engaging and advanced, yet the toys at a brand's disposal are the same as those available in other sectors."

Cooper adds that techniques such as projection mapping have been used particularly well by telecoms brands, but perhaps now is the time to move on from this.

"There is an argument for engaging traditional theatrical techniques and looking back to the roots of what originally influenced experiential marketing," he says.

Brands in the IT and telecoms space are increasingly finding that activity which creates an emotional response is not enough in the current landscape. Consumers, particularly those who are early adopters of all things tech, are far too savvy. Relevancy and convenience are the keys to unlocking a consumer relationship. And by producing activity that's shareable, brands also have the opportunity to capture consumer data from which they can then learn and adapt.

More: Samsung takes over Harrods with innovation experience

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