Marmite pop-up, 2009 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Ideas for Leaders #251

Building Brand Equity through Event Marketing

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Key Concept

Brand event marketing will increase brand equity through brand experience, especially if the event involves a direct and intense customer experience with the brand. But brand attitude increases brand equity only for certain types of events (namely, trade and street events, but not pop-up shops and sponsored events). Pop-up shops exemplify the best type of brand experience-driven event marketing.

Idea Summary

While traditional advertising still commands the lion’s share of the marketing budget, companies continue to look for alternative communication platforms to enhance their brands, including event marketing.

How effective is this type of marketing? Researchers Lia Zarantonello of the IÉSEG School of Management in Lille, France, and Bernd Schmitt of Columbia Business School provide some clues to the answer by researching the impact of event marketing on consumer-based brand equity. Consumer-based brand equity is a measure of a consumer’s attitudes, opinions and emotions elicited by the brand.

Zarantonello and Schmitt specifically explored the relationship between event marketing and the two core elements of brand equity: brand attitude and brand experience. Brand attitude concerns the likeability or the consumer’s favourable opinion of the brand. The relatively new concept of brand experience is a deeper and more comprehensive measure of consumer response to the brand. Brand experience reflects how consumers respond both emotionally and intellectually to the brand, as well as how consumers physically interact with the brand.

The research by Zarantonello and Schmitt was based on pre- and post-event surveys of participants for seven different marketing events. These events included a marathon, a trade fair, three street events and two pop-up shops.

The results of the research confirmed that event marketing can have a positive impact on brand equity by increasing both brand attitude and brand experience. However, the results were more broadly positive for brand experience than brand attitude.

First, measures of brand experience, such as consumer emotional responses to the brand and to the interaction in which they just participated, increased more substantially after the events than the general opinion of the brand as measured by brand attitude.

In addition, the impact on brand attitude was mixed, depending on the type of event. Trade shows and street events increased brand attitude — consumer’s attitudes toward the brand were more positive after the events — and, as a result, brand equity. Sponsored events also increased brand attitude; however, the research did not see a correlated increase in brand equity. In other words, the increase in brand attitude did not lead to behavioural differences. Finally pop-up shops did not have an impact on brand attitude at all.

For brand experience, the impact was positive for all types of events. And pop-up shops in particular seemed quite effective. As Zarantonello and Schmitt noted in an article on the research, “This may be due to the fact that pop-up shops are new forms of events, which make use of a more structured and immersive space. In more traditional events such as sponsored events, the experience that is generated may be less intense, even though this experience still results in an increase of brand equity.”

Business Application

The impact of event marketing on brand experience and brand attitude is a bit different. One single event can have a major impact on a customer’s brand experience— which includes the emotional and intellectual response to a brand as well as the actual physical interaction with the brand. It’s not as easy to change brand attitude, which is a set opinion of the brand.

The results of the research emphasize that marketers must include brand experience in designing and evaluating the effectiveness of event marketing initiatives. Specifically, the research suggests that:

  1. Marketers should consider event marketing as a strategy to build brand equity.
  2. Event marketing should be designed to stimulate experience rather than build up brand attitude.
  3. To stimulate experience, marketers should design events that
    • stimulate one or more of the five senses — hearing, sight, touch, smell  and taste.
    • trigger positive emotions — joy, happiness or contentment.
    • stimulate intellectual responses, that is, thinking in “new and different ways about an issue or topic.”
    • involve interaction with other people, including other consumers and company representatives. Getting help with new technologies at the event is one example of effective interaction.

To summarize, write the authors, “the more an event is capable of generating strong and intense brand experiences, the higher the effect on brand equity will be.”

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Idea conceived

  • November 2012

Idea posted

  • November 2013

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