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Taiwan retailers get a belated taste for experiential marketing

"Try before you buy" gets a marketing makeover as Taipei discovers the joys of the experiential.

Photo: Experiential: the latest buzz term on the marketing menu. (Xinhua News Agency)
Experiential: the latest buzz term on the marketing menu.

"Experiential marketing" has arrived in Taiwan, where it has been readily adopted by a number of brands as the latest means to woo wavering consumers. The technique is not a new one, with the label actually jargonising one of the oldest items in the marketer's arsenal – tempting would-be buyers by getting them to sample or handle the actual goods on offer.

What is new, however, is the enthusiasm with which retailers and manufacturers are now embracing the practice. The uptake has been particularly high in traditional retail outlets and 3C – computers, communications and consumer electronics – suppliers.

Its appeal in both the food and kitchen utensil sector is easily appreciable. Food-tasting and cooking demonstration sessions have proved effective in highlighting the high quality of food produce as well as the utility of various kitchen appliances and gadgets. It succeeds by allowing potential customers to touch, smell and taste the food or to wield utensils for themselves. This experience both enhances consumer appreciation of such items and spurs the actual desire to purchase.

Globally, one of the most successful applications of experiential marketing has been famously employed by the Apple Store, an undisputed leader in the 3C sector. Apple outlets around the world have proved past masters at providing prospective purchasers with a highly-conducive shopping environment.

This sees shoppers feel free to take a hands-on approach to a range of Apple products, with knowledgeable staff on hand to talk them through the benefits of each system. This has provided huge pre-purchase reassurance to many store visitors and acted as a substantial boost to the process of converting browsers into customers.

Perhaps inspired by Apple's success, experiential marketing is now being ever more widely employed. A leading German home appliance brand, for instance, has recently opened a dedicated 'experience' centre in Taiwan. This facility allows visitors to enjoy dishes prepared by the centre's staff, using the company's range of domestic appliances – including ovens, stoves and coffee makers – with all the food stuffs being selected by the would-be purchaser.

While visitors even bring along their own laundry to 'test drive' the company's range of washing machines and dryers, they cannot actually buy any of the appliances on show at the centre. This policy has been adopted to allow visitors to try the items without feeling any immediate obligation to purchase. The theory is – and, according to the company, it's working – that the accrued goodwill and instilled consumer confidence will convert to actual purchases through alternative channels.

Overall, experiential marketing has proved a success for its clear benefits to both purchasers and retailers. For retailers, it instills confidence and builds product knowledge, while retailers gain instant feedback on product features and pricing.

Sylvia Yeh, Taiwan Office

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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