“In the real sense, there was sheep; once upon a time, there was a sheep in a real sense. Being a competitor sheep, it was inclined to approach it and saw that it had no wool on its back. Naturally, the instinct propelled to ask, ‘Baa baa, black sheep, have you any wool?’ Well, you all must have heard that timeless poem. That little black sheep had given its wool away to its master, its dame, and one bag for the little boy… yes, the one who lived down the lane. The sheep had reached out to the little boy directly to present him with a bag full of wool.”
The sheep was activating its product and embracing its brand value. No, the sheep wasn’t a robot that needed to be activated. On the contrary, it needed its dependencies to know that it still existed, and it still catered to its masters and dames and all the lovely boys who loved its wool and the byproducts of its wool, such as a jacket or a shawl. Such was the impact of the little sheep’s activity.
Most brands worldwide follow this activation policy to market themselves through this indirect means. Advertising and public relations are just over-the-top activities that may or may not register a recall. Still, when a brand presents a sample of its product directly to its consumer, closer to the consumer’s home, through an activity in which the consumer willingly participates, the brand more or less ensures that the recall factor has been registered in the mind of the consumer. In such a scenario, the human senses prevail. And for the consumer, it’s the trust they develop when the brands reach directly out to them with their product to savour for free.
When a brand indulges in activations, it opens up a direct link with its consumers, thus paving the way for the consumer to connect with the brand physically and psychologically and experience the brand product firsthand without spending a dime. However, the conversion has to be done.
Sometimes it’s not just about money. Though brands spend more on advertising and other sources of marketing, spending on brand activation offers more scope to reach out through direct interaction with its target group. The brand is another good sheep that know whom to cater to through the activation process, thus creating a loyal consumer base.
One must try and understand the psychology driven through activations. For example, in the brick-and-mortar store versus online retailing, despite technology taking over our lives, brick-and-mortar stores continue to have their loyal fan following. At some point, we went out to these stores and personally felt the product we needed to buy. From vegetables to pulses to clothes, we have interacted with these products on a one-to-one base as if it was one of our own. Thus, the power of brand activation. It lets the brand feel one-to-one with its consumers. It lets the consumer decide what is good and what is wrong; what is suitable for the house and what is not, and at times this is only possible through the direct intervention of the brand, either by being a sheep or reaching the little boy or letting the boy come to it.
Simply put, when we go out to a mall, we often get a glimpse of some home appliances prominently on display in the foyer and a person demonstrating their actual use. Walk into a store selling these appliances, and all the salesperson does, is give a lecture on the appliance’s usage as if they are reading the brand’s user manual. That’s the difference between direct selling and indirect selling through brand activation. It aids in providing the consumers firsthand experience with the brand and thus changes whatever perception the consumer might have had about the brand. Moreover, the activation process enhances the brand’s reputation in the minds of the consumer through direct and personal interaction with the brand’s product, either through its usage or consumption.
With no pun intended, some brands don’t want their products to be like the sour grapes the fox found hard to reach. Advertising of a brand can only do as much good for the grapes if it’s reachable or, in our case, available readily. But with activations, the fox might have found the grapes sweet. To return to our woollen story, at the end of the day, the sheep is not concerned about what the master, the dame, or the little boy did with its wool. The sheep knows that by reaching out to its concerned parties, the wool would find its usage in some form. The sheep knows its product as much as the consumer once it gets a direct taste, thanks to the sheep’s Integrated Brand Promotion process.