Experiential marketing:
Left brain vs. right brain marketing

By Shiraz Latiff
Organisations have traditionally considered marketing, as a function, that facilitates the growth of their top lines. However, the gradual evolution of management thinking has seen marketing, as a discipline, expanding into two focal areas. One, as a science of strategy making for organizations, and the other, as a behavioural science, that focuses on the consumer, as a human being.

In this context, when we look at the progress of the behavioural aspects of marketing, the traditional marketer, has always depended on the Above the Line and Below the Line methods, to create favourable response, from the consumer. The conventional field marketing, or the media based marketing, looks at highlighting features vs. benefits, to the consumer, with the assumption that, humans are rational (left brain oriented) decision-makers, who care about functional features and benefits. This method alludes, to an assumption that, the larger the share of voice, larger, your share of market becomes. However, with the advent of technology, the power balance has shifted to the consumer. At present, advertising overkill, has given the consumer, the weapons like the ‘remote controller of their TV, the ‘delete button on the computer’, the waste bin for junk mail, etc. to filter out what material and messages will be accepted and comprehendedm to make that ‘rational decision’.

Seeing this paradigm shift, marketers toom began to change their approach. We have seen the advent of Relationship Marketing, Customer Relationship Marketing, Responsibility Marketing, etc. where marketers have been looking for more creative means. to interact and interface with their consumers. than to expect a ‘give and take’. transactional relationship.

The shift towards interactive marketing. has given the opportunity for consumers. to explore and experience the product and service, before making a decision. This new phenomena has seen the birth of Experiential Marketing, which is a medium, that is focused on creating one-to-one experiences, that engage consumers, in deeper and more memorable ways. It is about integrating brands, into people’s lifestyles and adding value, to the consumer experience of the brand engaging, rather than interrupting, which the conventional media marketing does, when the consumer is rudely interrupted, from what he is doing, by a commercial. Experiential Marketing views consumers, as rational and emotional (right brain oriented) human beings, who are concerned about achieving, pleasurable experiences.

This dramatic change, in the focus by marketers, has been due to two major developments, in the broader business arena.
The omnipresence of Information and Communication Technology

Today consumers are more tech savvy, than ever before. The days of super computers, tucked in large corporate rooms are over. The modern day information age, has ensured that, the consumer is plugged into information, by many means, like the laptops, Blackberrys, mobile phones, etc. and are on the information super highway. Today, each consumer has a singular mobile number, and an email address reachable, from anywhere in the world. Some have even progressed further, to have their own websites, to web-blogs, to social networking forums. The channels of Internet, social networks, mobile connectivity, etc. have ensured that. the consumer is not only connected. to the ‘wild world of wonders’, but, is also more informed, than the average ‘Joe’, of a few decades ago.

Today, many organisations are opening their ‘branches’ in Second Life, to capture their customers’ minds, even before,they could make a real life ‘buy’ decision. At present, Corporate websites are more interactive and informative, and provide information, on their products and services, to the discerning customer. Therefore, the advancement in the Information Communication Technology, has allowed people and companies, to connect and share an experiential universe, with one another.

The Supremacy of Brands
Organisations have heavily invested in creating brand identities, to their products and services. Today, we have so many iconic brands like Coke, Nike, IBM, Apple, IKEA, etc. which have grown beyond their product categories. With strong branding, comes the battle for emotional affiliation. Brands give personalities and identities, to the products and appeal to the emotional aspects of the consumer. Today, brands are becoming core competencies, for organizations, where the strength of their existing product or service brands, is being extended, to other product or service categories. This also means creating brand loyalty. This is loyalty, towards the brand, as opposed, to the product quality (feature vs. benefits). In a world in which brands rule, products are no longer bundles of functional characteristics, but rather, means to provide and enhance customer experiences.

These new phenomena, represent the signs of an entirely new approach in marketing, if not business, as a whole. According to the Experiential Marketing Guru, Bernd Schmitt of Columbia Business School, Experiential Marketing is distinct in four key ways: Focusing on consumer experiences, treating consumption, as a holistic experience, recognising both the rational and emotional drivers of consumption, and using eclectic methodologies. He further illustrates that, marketers can use Strategic Experiential Modules (SEMs), to create different types of consumer experiences, for their customers.

The experiential modules to be managed in Experiential Marketing include, sensory experiences (SENSE), affective experiences (FEEL), creative cognitive experiences (THINK), physical experiences, behaviours and lifestyles (ACT), and social-identity experiences, that result from relating, to a reference group or culture (RELATE).

Therefore, Experiential Marketing is not mere exhibitions, conventions and sampling, but creating holistic experience, that integrate individual experiences, into a holistic Gestalt. The concept of Experiential Marketing, came into being in the late nineties, but was gradually forgotten. However, it has now become a very topical and timely concept, for organizations, for reasons discussed earlier, and organisations are shifting their budgets, towards it, in a major way.

The 8th CIM Annual Conference, attempts to ‘Re-discover Experiential Marketing’, in its pursuit, to win brand loyalty. The Conference will have many overseas and local speakers, highlighting the theoretical, and practical aspects of this concept.

(The writer, Shiraz Latiff is the Chairman of The Chartered Institute of Marketing Sri Lanka Region. He is a Chartered Marketer by profession and is also, the Assistant Vice President - Service Quality of HSBC Electronic Data Processing Lanka (Pvt) Ltd. Mr. Latiff counts over 15 years of commercial and industry experience, including seven years, at managerial level. He holds an MBA, from the Postgraduate Institute of Management, Colombo and an Advanced Diploma in Business Administration, from the Association of Business Executives, UK)


Fitch Affirms National Long-term rating of ComBank

AA+(lka)’ rating reflects the bank’s sustained profile

Fitch Ratings Lanka has affirmed the National Long-term rating of Commercial Bank of Ceylon Ltd (CB) at ‘AA+(lka)’, reflecting the bank’s sustained profile amongst local commercial banks in terms of its strong franchise, good profitability, sound asset quality, strong solvency and high capitalisation.

In addition, Fitch has affirmed CB’s Individual Rating at ‘D’ and Support Rating at ‘5’. Fitch has also affirmed the ‘AA (lka)’ rating of the bank’s subordinated debentures and the ‘AA-(lka)’ (AA minus (lka)) rating assigned to CB’s preference shares. The outlook remains stable.

Though CB has traditionally been a dominant player in the corporate banking market, it is gradually developing its presence in the consumer banking market. Consequently, the bank’s portfolio at FYE07 was distributed equally among both these segments. However, Fitch believes the management’s intended focus on middle market corporates could result in the composition shifting in favour of the corporate segment over the medium term. Loan growth dropped to 16% by FYE07 (compared to 27% in FY06 and a CAGR of 31% from FY02 to FY06), in response to high market interest rates and regulatory measures aimed at curbing credit growth across the industry. CB’s gross NPL ratio rose slightly to 2.9% at FYE07 (2.7% at FYE06), but compares favourably against those of its peers and against its ratio of 6.9% at FYE02.

ROA (excluding preference dividends) increased to 1.6% in FY07 from 1.4% in FY06 (adjusted for non-recurring gains on share disposals and costs of pension restructuring), supported by an expansion in interest margins (FY07: 5.1% vs. FY06: 4.0%) and an improvement in cost efficiency (FY07: 38.2% vs. in FY06: 43% (adjusted for the aforementioned one - off gains and costs)). CB’s operations in Bangladesh contributed 12% of net income in FY07 and 7% of total assets at FYE07.

CB raised LKR5.74 billion through a rights issue in H107 that boosted the equity/assets ratio to 8.7% at FYE07 (FYE06: 6.7%) and the total capital adequacy ratio (CAR) to 13.71% at FYE07 (FYE06: 11.58%). Fitch believes that the capital raised may be deployed for regional business expansion or to grow the existing Bangladesh operations where the bank has established a strong position among foreign banks.

Established in 1969 but tracing its origins to 1920, CB is Sri Lanka’s largest private bank and the third-largest Licensed Commercial Bank in Sri Lanka, accounting for 10.7% of banking system assets at FYE07. DFCC Bank (‘AA(lka)’) and other entities related to the Stassens group hold 29% and 12.5% of CB’s voting equity, respectively.

CB has a 1.78% shareholding in Fitch Ratings Lanka but is not involved in either the day-to-day operations or credit rating reviews undertaken by Fitch Ratings Lanka.


‘English as a Life Skill’ launched

Initiative aims to create 50,000 job opportunities in BPO operations

In a bid to address the lack of English language skills in the country—vital for business and economic development—the government last week launched a Presidential Initiative styled ‘English as a Life Skill.’

Coinciding with the launch of this initiative a Business Mela was organized by the Board od Investment in collaboration with the Presidential Secretariat. The Mela brought eleven private English teaching institutions from India to the Galadari Hotel in Colombo from the 23rd to the 25th of April.

“Some of the most successful teaching methods and course in spoken/communicative English have been developed in India,” said Sunimal Fernando, Convenor of the special Presidential task force on English as a life skill.

Fernando added that Indian institutions had successfully communicated English language skills to large numbers of learners in India who are now gainfully employed.

The private sector was invited to participate in the Mela by the Presidential secretariat, which is keen to enhance what it terms ‘job-oriented English language skills’ in the country.

The Presidential task force strategy on developing English in the country will initially target tutoring institutes and, in the longer term, the mainstream education system.

By inviting private sector participants to the Mela, the government hoped to forge links between the Sri Lankan private sector and the Indian institutions that would result in direct or indirect business relationships.

In the short-term, the special presidential task force aims to have 50,000 people with ‘job-oriented spoken/communicative English skills’ ready for employment in the service industry.

“The private sector employer, in his effort to survive in a globalised environment, is increasingly insisting on English as a basic skill for employment,” says Fernando, who points out that English will be “taught and perceived purely and simply as a life skill.”

The government plans to radically revise current English teaching methods, replacing the present focus on structure, grammar and translation with an emphasis on listening and talking.
This would be followed by reading and writing.


Sri Lanka tea for France

Minister of Agriculture Maithreepala Sirisena visited the Sri Lanka Tea Promotion held at Carrfour in Paris, France’s biggest departmental store recently. He was received by Carrfour Director Daniel kalache, Minister Counsellor Sugeeswara Senadhira and Commercial Secretary Chandima Kiriwandala. Carrfour has taken steps to introduce Sri Lankan tea in its chain of super markets across the country. The official inauguration of Sri Lankan tea promotion was held on Friday (April 18) at the Carrfour at Auteuil in prestigious Paris 16 area with the participation of Carrfour (Auteuil) Director Daniel Kalache, Sri lankan Ambassador Chitranganee Wagiswara, Commercial Secretary Chandima Kiriwandala and Sri Lanka Tourism Director Ruvan de Alwis. The Commercial Section of the Sri Lanka Embassy in France organized this tea promotion with assistance from Sri Lanka Tea Board, Mlesna Limited and Sri Lanka Tourism Office in Paris. While the Tea Board provided delicious black tea, Melsna tea with different flavours and fragrance were offered to the Carrfour clientele.


CIMA Offer to Chartered Accountants closes on 30 April

The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) offer to members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants to register with them saving upto 544 pounds by way of exception fees and, to qualify as Chartered Management Accountants by sitting only the final examination closes on 30 April, 2008.

Speaking to The Sunday Leader President of CIMA Sri Lanka Aruna Fernando and CEO of CIMA Sri Lanka Bradley Emerson explained that CIMA has signed an MOU with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka, that is open to all its qualified members giving them an opportunity to enhance their profile by qualifying as a Chartered Management Accountants.

Fernando stated that CIMA has long had a close relationship with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka, and has been working closely with the institute for many years adding that this special offer will only complement relations between the two institutes.

Fernando said, “Though both institutes are all about accounting, we are very different, but I think that is what makes our relationship so special, this special package will only go on to strengthen out ties.”

Nishan Fernando, the President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka expressed his thanks to CIMA for the kind offer which would be very valuable to the members of ICASL especially at a time when exchange rates are very prohibitive and doing foreign examinations are becoming increasingly difficult for Sri Lankans. Nisahan also added that being the premier National Accounting body, it is paramount that the Institute work closely with all other accounting bodies and that throughout the years, the two organizations have had a long and cordial relationship, with many Accountants being members of both bodies. He stressed that initiatives such as this, would help in further strengthening the relationship.

Emerson said, “Going for an MBA is another option of climbing the ladder for most professionals but this is far more easier, plus it allows chartered accountants to venture into other areas like business management and even marketing, so it widens their scope.”

He explained that the normal procedure would include paying registration costs, submission and exam fees as well as exemption fees, and that CIMA was cutting out the exemption fees which amount to GBP 544.

Both Fernando and Emerson stressed the importance of having an internationally recognized qualification, stating that CIM is a global product that is accepted in over 100 countries.

CIMA is a leading membership body that offers an internationally recognized professional qualification in management accountancy, which focuses on accounting for business.

As an organization CIMA is committed to constant improvement, and its reputation as a professional and regulatory body has never been stronger, as it is increasingly the first choice for students and employers.

At present, CIMA Sri Lanka has over 1,800 members and 12,000 students, making it the largest concentration of members and students outside the UK. In addition there are around 1700 Sri Lankan members and students living and working outside the country, principally in countries like New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the Middle East and the United Kingdom.

CIMA is the only international professional qualification with a sole focus on accounting for business. The institute educates trains and qualifies first-class professionals – people with financial prowess who also understand the intricacies of management.

CIMA people go way beyond accountancy – by using finance skills to focus on future success rather than past performance, they are helping to drive the world’s successful organizations.


Rotary Club’s ‘Green Cover’ to protect the environment

By Quintus Perera
Rotary movement in its quest to help the society, in which they live in, has been involved in several worthwhile projects, such as eradication of polio. One of the serious scenarios, taking place on earth is global warming, due to uncontrolled green house gas emissions, which makes an enormous impact on earth and its living beings.

In attempting to mitigate or off-set the GHG emissions, even in a small way, the Rotary Club of Colombo Regency, in association with Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau is undertaking to plant 10 million trees, throughout the country, and to raise funds for this essential project, Rotary Colombo Regency, with several others sponsors is organising the Colombo Vogue Lifestyles Weekend, a spectacular lifestyles weekend event, to be held from 30th May 30 to June 1 2008, at Hotel Galadari.

The programme opens with a New Age Music Concert titled ‘Mantra’, on May 30th , followed by two days of a fashion blitz, under the banner of Colombo Fashion Statement, with Indian designers showcasing their creations, on May 31st, and Europeans Designers sashaying their designs on May 1st. Simultaneously, there will be a Flower Show titled ‘Tropical Splendour’ on the mornings of May 31st and June 1st.

The proceeds of this show will be utilised, to plant and nurture trees in rural
Sri Lanka, as part of Rotary’s 10 million trees project, Rotary (Sri Lanka) Green Cover. This project is being organised by the Rotary Club of Colombo Regency, Rotary Club of Kandy and Sri Lanka Tourism, and will be implemented, in association with all Rotary Clubs in Sri Lanka. Participation from NGO’s and Organisations interested in this project, is welcome.

Infotechs International (Pvt) Ltd. who joined the project, has launched Lankafashion.mobi, as the official mobile website, for this upcoming Fashion and Music Weekend. This website will provide ready information on fashion events, in Sri Lanka, starting with Colombo Vogue Lifestyles Weekend and Colombo Fashion Statement. The website, which is accessible through any mobile phone, feature the designer profiles, a photo gallery of the models and performers, details of the various events, ticket and location information, and will also have clips of the shows, on streaming video, as they happen.

Elaborating this vital project, Prabhu Sundararaj, President, Rotary Club of Colombo Regency said, that while the project is on, every attempt is made to perform its activities, with the accepted environmental norms. For example, they will not transport seedlings from the city to rural areas, as fuel is used to transport. They would instead, set up plant nurseries, in the rural settings, eliminating use of fuel in all their activities.

He said that the majority of plants that would be grown would be useful trees like mangoes, jack, avocados, rambutan , which will give a good income to the villagers. Only bio fertiliser will be used for agricultural purposes.

Renton de Alwis, Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau said that, the project of planting trees would also attract tourists, as they love to see more green. He said that, though there is a decline in the forest cover in Sri Lanka, 47 percent green cover is there, in the country.

Colombo Fashion Statement has been tipped, as a unique expose of the latest designs for 2008, by renowned Indian and European designers. The Indian designers are Satya Paul, Shobaa De and Ashima-Leena (duo), whilst the European designers are Lecoanet Hemant (brand LH), Nathalie Ozier & Noemie Dieudonne from France.

The fashion shows will feature the reigning Miss India for Miss World, Miss India for Miss Earth, Miss Sri Lanka, Miss Israel and about three reigning Beauty Queens from overseas (Sweden, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Russia, China, Denmark , modelling on the runway, a rare possibility, along with 10 models from India and eight models from Sri Lanka.