"Entire Marketing Scenario In India Today Is Founded on ‘Experiential’"- Nazneen Karimi, Percept ICE

Industry Watch | October 21, 2016 | Interview

Percept ICE

The Chief Executive Officer of Percept ICE, Nazneen Karimi is a well-known name in the Indian events industry, currently responsible for bringing in a more focused and concentrated approach to the burgeoning ICE business across India.

With over a decade of experience in her kitty working for brands like HSBC, Citibank, Maybelline and others, Nazneen has closely seen the Indian experiential marketing industry evolve and now curates the some of the most innovative activations, event IP’s and MICE programs for brands across the globe.

In an exclusive conversation with EVENTFAQS, Nazneen talks about the latest trends in ExM, the integration of digital and the biggest achievements of Percept ICE over the years.

What are the latest trends in experiential marketing by brands today?

This has been a decade of learning, evolution and exponential advancement for the experiential marketing domain. The big game changer has been Technology. The use of live creative technology has risen and made brand experiences more immersive, fun and unusual than ever before, driven by the 360-degree ‘experience’ culture that discerning and demanding audiences now demand. And this has translated into more brands challenging themselves to produce and deliver experiential, recognizing that traditional media or events are not the only way to reach out to their TG. Immersion is the key learning from for this year’s industry evolution.

The uprising of technologies such as VR & 360 Video has taken storytelling and story-acting to a whole new standard. Event apps have revolutionized the experiential marketing industry in 2016, making things easier, faster and more interactive. One of the major trends observed this year is an increase in the engagement of interactive mobile event apps, both pre, during and post events, such as expediting the normally tedious check-in process, garnering instant feedback at the event through voting, forwarding personalized event pics and memorabilia instantly post event. Brands are now expecting holistic 360-degree concepts and ideas based on innovative, creative and customized storytelling ideas.

How has the experiential marketing industry in India evolved over the last decade and what are the changes predicted for in the future?

The Experiential Marketing domain has grown exponentially over the past decade. Brand marketers quickly realized that experiential marketing traces Return on Engagement (ROE), unlike traditional media. A unique experiential marketing experience allowed their consumers to easily identify, sample, touch & feel, purchase, and recall the product or service which translated into a long-lasting brand-client relationship. Simultaneously, the domain also came a long way in terms of ease and access of availability of technologies, and the scale of creation went up a notch higher due to these enabling technologies. This allowed a lot more space for creativity and out-of-the-box thinking.

Going forward, the experiential marketing domain will offer extraordinary sensory experiences, and creativity will blend seamlessly with technology to deliver an incredible experience on ground. As Creativity meets Technology, events will become even more memorable experiences and a guaranteed hit with the audiences. In the futuristic digital world, nothing will be off-limits or impossible to deliver. If an event planner can dream it, talented teams of designers, programmers, technicians and event producers will execute it. Technologies such as VR, AR, and 4D Mapping will become enablers for creating sensory experiences and communicating brand / product stories. From tablets displaying customized information, programs or menus, to SEG technology, Backlit Fabrics, or LCD interfaces, technology will make or break an event. Skilled video and audio engineers will immerse audiences in their surroundings with elements that will activate social interactions during an event. The use of technology will create impactful touch points, offering greater customization, and inviting guests to be a part of an amazing 360-degree sensory experience.

Given the scale and speed of growth in this space pan India, we will require more large-scale venues. Currently, only modern infrastructure built in the last few years is capable of accommodating today’s ideas. India rapidly needs mass event capable infrastructure and addressing this cause needs to be done immediately at an overall industry level. This is a matter, if solved, will take away a significant roadblock stopping our nation from setting benchmarks in the experiential marketing domain.

Sustainability, CSR, and environmental focus will also become vital going forward, and that means, event companies need to present sustainable and environment-friendly ideas, events and initiatives in a transparent manner, reduce wastage and carbon footprint, and ensure that the client’s repute and neighboring communities remain unaffected during the process of execution.

Enlist 3 experiential campaigns devised by Percept Ice in the last year, that you feel reflect that most creative work done by your company.

The entire marketing scenario pan India today is founded on ‘Experiential’. Today, experiential is synonymous with innovation.  With constant progression in technology, audiences are witness to new experiences on a monthly basis. The most recent example of this being the VR headsets being bundled with smartphones. These new experiences naturally raise consumer desire and expectations.

At Percept, we always make every effort towards making our events as creative and immersive as possible. We believe experiential doesn’t need to necessarily involve technology, it must, however, deliver a unique and memorable experience to audiences.

Last year at the launch of Volkswagen’s 21st Century Beetle at the SVP Stadium, NSCI, Percept leveraged VW’s iconic logo as a larger than life-size stage ramp for a fashion show and lap of honor. The engineering that went into getting the dimensions of this colossal architecture right, without disturbing the brand guidelines was a herculean task. It would surely rank amongst the most creative work we’ve done.

At the 2014 Auto Expo, we managed the impossible by suspending a LED Halo above the largest two – wheeler space hosted by Hero MotoCorp, that too at a venue that didn’t allow leveraging its ceiling. For this effort, we roped in German spatial brand staging experts Schmidhuber. This gigantic Halo LED module, that was completely imported, clearly distinguished the Hero MotoCorp space. It showcased a bold step by a brand and served as an immense learning for our team.

Lastly, DBS’s Digi Bank Launch was relatively smaller in scale but included an interactivity that drew out word clout portraits of audiences using the characteristics submitted by them. Albeit small, it turned out to be an eye-catching and memorable exercise. Inclusion is the key. Audiences do not want to just attend a passive event anymore, they now look forward to integrate, interact, interrelate with the brand.

How has digital marketing impacted experiential and what has been its implications?

Digital Marketing tactics and Experiential experiences go hand in hand to reinforce your brand message and create an amazing synergy that customers love. Digital apps, Social Media marketing, e-mails and a responsive website can communicate the brand’s message effectively and give the audience a sneak preview of things to come thereby driving awareness, interest, and desire. Data analysis and metrics help marketers gauge consumer feedback and change tactics well in time before the ground event. Digital marketing is the most cost-effective media to broaden consumer connect and drive excitement for the event. Interactive mobile event apps can be used pre, during and post events to expedite the normally tedious check-in process, garner instant feedback at the event through voting, and even forward personalized event pics and memorabilia instantly post event.

Hashtags unique to the event create recall and help to trend the activity. By incorporating a digital marketing weave into the experiential, brands can now take a single on ground activity and convert it into a shared experience with the mass social network, thereby expanding the reach and engagement far beyond the limited on-ground area of activation. Most importantly, the integration of digital marketing apps, tools, media and channels into experiential marketing events has given brands the ability to expand their reach outside the event itself and engage consumers long after the event is over. Return on Engagement (ROE) is today a key factor that brands use to measure the success of their activation, and digital marketing tools enable brands to track ROE swiftly and effectively.

As per you what genre of events are most tricky to execute and why?

Execution isn’t subject to the genre. The complexities of execution essentially differ in terms of the respective event’s scale. But consistency in terms of quality of execution comes with treating each project critically. Since the inception of Percept ICE 6 years ago we have been proactive and fortunate to have conceptualized and implemented events varying across genre and scale, but in each event, we have been careful to not lose our consistency in quality and efficiency. Combined with Creativity, these two attributes keep you competitive and relevant in the experiential domain.

Is there a fixed planning process that you have devised to curate experiential campaigns for brands?

Experiential campaigns can range from small to grand scale events; geographical locations vary from domestic to International, and product categories, client objectives, and expectations vastly differ. Therefore, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ planning template that can be used in this domain.

Au contraire, innovation, creativity, thinking-out-of-the-box, differentiation, the novelty of offering across all parameters and detailing are paramount for success in this business. Most importantly, customization and tailor making the experiential solution to cater to the client’s brief is what has helped Percept ICE stand out in the experiential domain and execute some of the grandest and most unforgettable campaigns till date.

Entertainment is a massive part of any experiential event, and at Percept we have exceptionally strong ties with domestic and international artists across all talent genres. From booking them to managing them, packaging them and nurturing them, we understand the nuances that go behind booking and managing such high-profile artists, and via our immense global network have been able to fulfill all client requests. This has also helped Percept secure many high profile corporate events over the years.

What do you feel has been the biggest achievement of Percept ICE in the 6 years of its establishment and why?

Behind the growth and strategic evolution of Percept ICE was the single-minded vision to cater to the evolving and dynamic client and consumer requirements, to identify needs, aspirations, gap areas, and opportunities to have a first mover advantage in satisfying these diverse needs in the Experiential space. We broke many traditions, mindsets, and cliché barriers to constantly launch innovative and path-breaking content that were revolutionary, futuristic and customized to the needs of the diverse, discerning and ever evolving audience. Our consistent endeavor towards taking a simple client brief and converting it into path breaking innovative on-ground immersive experiences, combining the best of Creativity and Technology to deliver wow experiences, has helped create long-term value for all our stakeholders.

In an exclusive conversation with EVENTFAQS, Nazneen talks about the latest trends in ExM, the integration of digital and the biggest achievements of Percept ICE over the years.

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