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The Economics of Experience

Advertising is typically measured in cost per thousand (CPM) impressions. Traditional advertising offers a high CPM—imagine the number of impressions delivered by a full-page ad in The New York Times and compare that to the in-depth experience a visitor has with the Kellogg's brand at Cereal City, where the length of stay averages two-and-one-half hours. While the cost of an experiential brand destination might run into the millions—or multi-millions—the quality of the experience delivered and pleasant association with the brand that serves as the take-home message can be highly effective.

Additionally, experiential branding can often afford an opportunity to create synergy with other brands, extending the power of the experience to other strategic partners. This cannot only drive greater visitation due to the desire of the consumer to "taste" several experiences within one venue, but it can also defray costs by splitting the development expense.

Cereal City demonstrates several of the opportunities that experiential branding offers to marketers. Experiential branding:

  • Creates an atmosphere that demonstrates actual "see, feel, touch" product values in a consumer-friendly interactive environment.

  • Creates an environment in which the consumer has a complete, sensual experience, locking in pleasant memories that are subconsciously associated with the brand.

  • Presents a strong image to investors and the financial community, demonstrating a full commitment to brand support.

  • Offers an environment/platform for brand introductions and extensions.

One other important side-effect of experiential branding, especially when done in close proximity to the actual geographic location of the corporation's employees—such as brand attractions/heritage centers—is that the corporation can inspire excitement about the brand and company in its own employees, serving to boost morale and inspire company pride. In an age where the entry-level age demographic seems to place a high level of importance on "cool," an experiential branding strategy can be another arrow in the recruiter's quiver.

That same image of cutting-edge experience can also successfully promote a brand when utilized to create an attraction that invites the consumer to more fully understand what the brand stands for.

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