The four Ps of experiential marketing: Place

By Andy Youings. 11th September 2018
Place

The four Ps of marketing – product, price, promotion and place – have been the core tenets of the marketing mix since they were first proposed by E. Jerome McCarthy in his 1960 book, Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach.

Why have they stood the test of time? Because they’re fundamental. What you’re selling, how much for, where and how you promote it are the crucial things you have to get right to make your marketing strategy a success. Marketing evolves as any discipline does, so another three Ps have subsequently been added – packaging, people and positioning – but it’s the core four we’ll focus on here.

We’re interested in how those four foundational pillars align with the goals of experiential and in-store. For this first part of this four-part series, we’ll focus on place – how the right venue, position and execution can have a huge impact on success.

Experiential marketing

Marketers have to consider place. Adverts have to be on the right billboards or social media channels – if your target demographic views the world through Instagram, it’s no use putting time and money into Facebook, for instance. If you have a premium product, you don’t want it side by side with the discount retailers in Lidl.

Equally, the choice of venue for an experiential campaign has to be spot on. There are two things you need to understand in cast-iron detail.

The first is your target audience. Who are you trying to reach? The second is the options available. What are these venues like, what else is going on, and what will you be up against?

Will doing something experiential in the middle of a shopping centre get the right kind of exposure? What other shops are in that shopping centre? Are they right for the brand? Is there a ‘trendy’ bit of town that might be better?

Perhaps an event or festival might be a better bet? If you’re a food and drinks brand, look up food fests and county shows, which often draw in the same ‘foodie’ demographic. If you’re after the alternative healthcare crowd, branch out into music festivals.

It also pays to understand what else is nearby. If you’re launching a new bottled water at £2 per bottle, and one of your target venues is surrounded by stores running meal deals and offers with free water, it doesn’t matter how amazing your product or your experience are: people looking for water will likely go elsewhere.

In-store

For in-store, you need to ask yourself a similar brace of key questions. Firstly: are you in the right space for your consumers? Supermarkets, department stores and pop-ups have different dynamics and guide people to different actions. Secondly: are you in the right place in the space?

Answering the first one is a matter of brand alignment. If you’re pitching a bargain product with a lot of stylish potential, do you want to be in a supermarket that draws customers in purely on price?

Your target demographic will also have an impact here. If you’re trying to attract millennials, you have to recognise that millennials spend less time in shopping centres, department stores or hypermarkets. As Target have discovered, they prefer to shop at small, focused express-style stores that emphasise an understated, affordable offering with a little name credibility. This is why Gap and Macy’s are closing stores, but Old Navy continues to thrive; it’s also why pop-up shops are booming, turning over £2.3 billion in trade during 2017.

The second has a more complex answer. You want to be near the product, so people can walk away with it in hand ready to buy, but beyond that: where in the store should you set up? Near the entrance? At the end of aisles? Near the back? Where will get the most footfall?

To work that out requires research. Fortunately, we have access to a great deal of that. Retail psychologists and behavioural economists have many, many ways to track, map and model how consumers shop.

The classic talking point that consumers more often look to the right when first entering the shop is only the beginning. It’s also not strictly true: it’s the layout of the whole shop which guides the consumer’s eye. If consumers are moving clockwise around the shop, they look both ways when they come in, and keep looking toward the centre, remembering more products.

Consumers also move differently depending on how long they’re planning to be in store: there are fourteen routes around a typical supermarket that correspond to consumers taking short, medium or long shopping trips.

Other research indicates that the straight line ‘gridiron’ layout of supermarket aisles may not be as common-sense or straightforward as we think, and an experiential presence which introduces a curved detour might disrupt on a subtle yet powerful level. Think about IKEA’s walking tour, with routes through displays that feel more like an ornamental garden than a big shop.

However, the best way to find out where you should be in-store is to ask the store. The dead spots, and the liveliest spots, will vary depending on which branch you’re in, and the only way to know for sure where people stop and shop is to find out from the people who work there. This is yet another reason to get the store management on your side, as we’ve advised before – they know their own space better than anyone.

Place is a cornerstone of marketing for a reason. Your message has a target audience; you need to put it where they’re going to look (or listen, or taste…). Experiential marketing is no different. Be where your target demographic are going to be; don’t be where their attention isn’t. Know what you’re up against and learn as much about the space you’ll be in as you can.

To see how we’ve put the four Ps into practice for our clients, take a look at some case studies.