How brands perceive events
Events are increasingly important for brands, there is no question about that. We sat down with Pedro Caldas, a specialist in brand management.
Do you feel that the weight of events has been increasing within the marketing strategies of brands?
Brands are increasingly replacing communication strategies typically centred on traditional advertising campaigns for other approaches that try to be more effective in catching the consumer’s attention. It is becoming more and more common to see brands associate with major events that already exist or create new formats of events which they own, in order to get a more relevant contact with their audiences. This is because they are able to communicate through an event. Because it is possible to add ideas and to create contents to communicate more effectively through an event to which the brand attaches itself. The area of music events in Portugal is a good example of this reality.
This way, events today have more weight in the communication strategies of the brands than they ever had. Not only by associating to events through sponsorship, for example, but also by the concern to create small events which may represent good content to deliver to the consumer. Experience is everything and brands should provide good experiences to people as a way of binding them emotionally. And events have the ability to provide outstanding experiences.
And are brands looking at events as tools to increase market share?
Increasing market share through events is not easy, it may not be immediate and it is not valid to all businesses. Events are primarily communication tools for brands. They help binding them to a set of values ??and experiences that are transmitted to people by the events, rather than a commercial tool to gain more customers.
Some events bring certain benefits to brands that they can channel to consumers as advantages that can attract new customers. However, events should be considered as a tool for brand building, which has a strong contribution to brand equity. They are brand manifestations, they reflect their behaviour and attitude. They show where a brand positions itself, how it talks and behaves. Understanding the attitude and character of the brand and identifying with it, the appeal and / or customer loyalty level will be higher.
But do business strategies go hand in hand with the marketing ones?
In most cases, I think so. Selling and marketing strategies have to be linked, because both have much relevant information about the market and the consumer and only by working together can they achieve the best result. This relationship seems too obvious for organizations not to have the desire to ensure cooperation between these two strategies.
Do you agree that the trend nowadays is to place events at the centre of marketing strategies, generating contents for the whole campaign?
I would not say that is the trend because it will always depend on the objectives set to be achieved at a specific time. Events, by their nature, are very important for brand communication and what we can say is that brands that incorporate the sponsorship of events, or organize events in their communication strategies, have access to lots of content that can become relevant and a part in the dialogue with the consumer. In addition, they also have an incentive to create new initiatives and multiply the ways to connect with the consumer.
Do you think brands evaluate the return on investment in events? What metrics do they use?
Brands must always evaluate the return on investment (quantitatively and qualitatively) to confirm or correct the direction of their communication strategies. One of the most commonly used metrics is measuring the media return, which allows us to calculate the equivalent value of brand exposure as a result of partnering a particular event. But there are other data that must be taken into account, such as the number of participants in the event, the cost per contact, the number of favourable news produced with reference to the brand (press, TV and online), commercial success (in case the event is also used to attract new customers) or social media performance (number of shares, likes, people who talk about the content that the brand produces about the event, etc..).
And in terms of quality?
From a qualitative point of view, it is also important to assess some results that can measure the impact of brand engagement initiatives undertaken by the brands and to evaluate the overall quality of the event itself (data that can be useful to correct production aspects or, in the case of a sponsorship partner, to guide him to correct issues that may be harming the performance of the brand). Here the implementation of dedicated market studies would be required. They would include interviews throughout the period of brand communication, in association to a particular event, and during the event itself. These studies should measure, for example, the brand association degree with the event and, if applicable, in comparison with other sponsoring brands. They should measure whether people consider that the event is identifiable with the brand, the level of satisfaction in relation to the event itself and in relation to the same brand activity in it, what the interviewed liked the most and the least, how they heard about the event, how they travelled, who attended the event with, if they consider to go back again the next edition, etc.. Another very important fact that qualitative studies can measure is the characterization of the public taking part in the event (age, gender, occupation, place of residence, etc..), which is crucial for the brand to confirm they are causing an impact on the target that interests them the most.
What criteria should the brands meet to sponsor events?
First, they should check if the event is aligned with the sponsorship strategy defined. This should take into account the values ??of the brand, the target audience and areas of action that best represent the brand’s character (fashion, art, design, music or football, athletics, tennis, etc..).
If the event is aligned with the strategy, then you need to consider other criteria. Some examples are:
a) the interest of the event for the brand’s communication target;
b) the predicted extent of the event, in terms of audience (how many people will be participating) and media (whether it will attract a wide range of media);
c) the potential to generate relevant content for the brand to influence the dialogue with its target;
d) what other brands sponsor the event;
e) with how many brands the public attention is shared;
f) the possibility to be a naming sponsor, providing more ownership to the brand and increasing the possibility of being spontaneously mentioned by the media;
g) timeline (for planning and coordination with other initiatives the brand already has in progress);
h) the money the brand has to invest and how it fits the planned budget for that year.
Do you believe that today brands establish dialogues with customers, more than talking about themselves to them?
The main consumers of today were born with the Internet. They are big users of smartphones, very participative in social networks and always connected. Traditional ways of communicating lost efficiency and brands have increasingly to diversify the ways to reach the consumer. Currently, consumers value brands that do things for them, that are easy to talk to, open brands, that hear and respond in a transparent, simple and fast form. In this sense, given what is the trend of consumer behaviour, it is increasingly important that brands make an effort to establish dialogues and to influence those dialogues.
You agree that consumers want to be more involved with the decision and the development of an event. What are the positive and negative aspects that this implies?
The brands’ role is still to surprise, to set trends, to awaken new interests, to innovate, to provide unexpected experiences and, in this sense, brands must continue to determine the path. However, we must note that if an event is dedicated to a young audience, they will value being more involved. In these cases, brands should endeavour to create a transparent, honest, simple and frequent dialogue and incorporate their ideas and suggestions. An approach focused on interactivity has the advantage of establishing a deeper connection with consumers, causing them to identify more with a certain event, to be faithful to it and to recommend it. As long as interactivity has rules and is implemented so as not to disappoint people’s expectations, it has no major disadvantages.
Cláudia Coutinho de Sousa