IKEA is a global brand known for its excellent quality of products and affordable prices which have enabled the company to penetrate new markets. The company is renowned for its brand of home furnishing products and behind its presence in the global market where it performs excellently, IKEA has an exceptional marketing strategy that incorporates digital marketing. Through digital marketing, the company has been able to provide its clients with brand experiences which are conceptualized as a feeling, sensation, cognition, and behavioral responses that are aroused by a brands identity, design, communications and packaging (Stadtler 2015). As such, the following report presents a literature review of brand experiences in digital marketing followed by an analysis and evaluation of the existing digital marketing brand experiences while using IKEA as an example. Further, recommendations for future actions regarding digital brand experience will be elaborated.
According to Pine and Gilmore (1998), experiences differ from both services and goods and can be considered as an economic offering due to the consumers unquestionable desire for experiences. This strong desire for experiences has resulted in the design and promotion of such experiences by more and more businesses. It is for this reason that these authors predict that the future of the business world will mainly depend on experiences which are as real as any other offering such as a good, commodity or service. A majority of companies wrap their traditional offerings with experiences to help them sell better (Pine & Gilmore 1998). However, for the realization of the full benefits of staging experiences Pine and Gilmore (1998) suggest that businesses should intentionally design experiences that are engaging to help command a fee. An experience takes place when a firm deliberately utilizes services as a stage while goods are used as props for the engagement of individual consumers in a manner that produces a memorable event. There are four categories of experiences including entertainment, educational, escapist and esthetic. However, this report focuses on the esthetic experience and escapist experience. Escapist experiences teach in a similar manner to educational events or create amusement just as well as entertainment, but greater customer immersion is involved. When the active participation of the customer is minimized, then the escapist event becomes an esthetic one (Schmitt 1999).
IKEA is an example of a company that has exploited its marketing strategy making its presence to be felt in the global market due to its excellent performance. IKEA has achieved global success through affordably priced products that are of good quality while utilizing appropriate marketing techniques and strategies to gain popularity in a number of countries with an estimated sale of over 9500 products from the companys stores (Stadtler 2015). While the companys goal is to increase sales, it uses other means in addition to product promotion. For instance, as a customer purchases a coffee table in IKEAs store, they can be served with something to eat. Therefore, there are other reasons that force clients to come to the companys stores, besides their buying needs. Additionally, the company has taken a digital approach to marketing in efforts to boost the existing brand experience. IKEAs digital campaign pushes customers to the companys online store through social media, blogging platforms, search engine optimization (SEO) and Google AdWords (Stadtler 2015).
Analysis and Evaluation
As demonstrated in IKEAs case, digital marketing plays a key role in enhancing a companys interaction with customers. Blogging platforms form the primary location where IKEAs customers are driven to, from other mediums. The interaction leads to increased purchase from the companys online store. Some of the features of the blogging platforms that enhance the customers brand experience include photo galleries, story-sharing community, voting and product suggestion. When it comes to social media, Facebook serves as the main discussion creator while directing participants to the companys online store and blogging platforms. Some of the strategies used to create a brand experience include limiting tweets to allow for Facebook discussions, linking hashtags to IKEA's blogging platforms as well as keeping users interested and informed throughout their online shopping period. This is in line with what Schmitt (1999) describes as an affective experience (FEEL). According to Schmitt (1999), FEEL marketing pleases the inner emotions and feelings of customers with the aim of producing affective experiences. Affective experiences range from somewhat positive moods that are associated with a brand and strong pride and joy emotions (Schmitt, 1999). SEO in digital marketing involves tracking specific keywords like the companys name, IKEA and providing Google Ads in the search to help drive consumers to the online store or blogging platforms.
The adoption of customer-experience provision by IKEA is a feature that has given the company a competitive advantage over its business rivals. The company has paid attention to both esthetic experience and escapist experience. For esthetic experience, IKEA ensures that its customers have a place to sit when they visit the companys showrooms. This is also demonstrated in the companys digital platforms whereby beautiful colors that capture the beauty of IKEAs products are used. For instance, the use of attractive colors for the companys blogging platforms and social media provides customers with the esthetic experience, which is recommended by Pine and Gilmore (1998).
Additionally, for the escapist experience, IKEA has also done efforts to ensure that its customers enjoy the experience. This type of experience gives the customers an opportunity to escape their identity for some time and act outside what they are used to. IKEA provides its clients with this type of experience through roadshows and themed events. In the digital marketing world, the company also performs well. For instance, the company utilized a Facebook page named I want to sleepover in IKEA whereby the firms marketing department decided to make the wish of one hundred lucky consumers come true by giving them the opportunity to spend a night in IKEAs warehouses. The guests were offered with sleepover goodie bags, slippers, and masks. Additionally, they were offered massages as they spent time with a reality TV star (Prange 2016). This experience served as a key digital marketing strategy as it was followed by numerous amounts of press which created full engagement with IKEAs customers through the escapist event. The whole experience kept the lucky customers outside their normal routine hence creating a memorable experience.
Today, many people have changed the way they interact with brands whereby consumers are connected through various digital devices such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets in a larger extent and this trend is expected to continue in the future. Based on these developments, there are several recommendations for future actions in regard to the digital brand experience that can be made. From the experience economy in which value is considered part of the brand experiences, there should be engaging activities for better customer experience (Pine & Gilmore, 1998). This implies that there is more than getting the consumers attention in marketing. Therefore, it is recommendable that in the future, companies such as IKEA should give proper attention to customer engagement to evoke consumer collaboration and participation. Such engagement can be achieved by making the best use of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and virtual spaces in the digital marketing world.
To further enhance future digital brand experience, companies can also consider the application of games. For example, IKEA can come up with advergames that involve the advertisement of products in the form of games. Gamification is another action that can be adopted by a company whereby game elements of game design can be used in the promotion of gameful experiences to clients in non-leisure contexts. Gamification and advergames are areas that can be explored in future to help companies such as IKEA enhance their brand experience through game-like interactions.
Pine, B.J. and Gilmore, J.H., 1998. Welcome to the experience economy. Harvard business review, 76, pp.97-105.
Prange, C. ed., 2016. Market Entry in China: Case Studies on Strategy, Marketing, and Branding. Springer.
Schmitt, B., 1999. Experiential marketing. Journal of marketing management, 15(1-3), pp.53-67.
Stadtler, H., 2015. Supply chain management: An overview. In Supply chain management and advanced planning (pp. 3-28). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.
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