We want to start this year by sharing a really fun assignment that we delivered last week. This was part of the course Digital Marketing in the Executive MBA program at BI. The assignment instructions were something like this:
Develop a digital marketing strategy that capitalizes on a virtual reality multisensory experience for a brand of the student’s choice. The digital marketing strategy must be described in an essay of maximum 5 pages (references and appendices come in addition), where the following points are developed:
- Identification of a brand’s need based on the minimum viable brand framework / brand positioning, the brand’s customer journey, and the sensory audit.
- Development and description of a digital marketing strategy for the brand in order to tackle the need. This must be specific and elaborate on concepts of digitization of marketing, consumer understanding, and brand management.
- Development and description of a multisensory virtual reality experience prototype, as part of the digital marketing strategy, in order to address the need. This must be supported with concepts of digital multisensory marketing and HCI.
- Present a critical evaluation of the pros and cons of the digital marketing strategy, potential implications, and follow up actions.
As general guidelines for the task: The development of each of the points must be supported with the course concepts and references, and the topics must be approached with critical thinking.
Since we love beer (and pizza!) and one of our friends at the Executive MBA program owns a microbrewery that makes a delicious brew, we decided to develop this campaign for his brewery:
Building and positioning the Bømmeløen brand in the Norwegian market
The status of the Norwegian beer market
Figure 1 shows a trend that is currently present in the beer industry at a global level. There is an overall decrease in the consumption of beer while at the same time there is a marked increase in the consumption of handcrafted beer.
The Norwegian market is no exception to this growing tendency. Thinking in terms of a PESTEL analysis we see that there are Political, Economical, Societal, and Legal reasons for the consumption of beer to decrease. The consumption of alcohol in Norway is tightly regulated by the Government and there is ever increasing pressure from certain society segments to apply even more strict rules that limit the consumption of alcohol. Among the mechanisms introduced by the government to regulate the consumption of alcohol, taxation is notorious as a cause for the very high price of alcohol in Norway, with beer not being an exception.
Let us consider the Ansoff matrix consider in Figure 2. In the x-axis, the matrix illustrates the maturity of the market, with the bottom sector being used for the new markets and the top sector representing the existing and mature markets. As we know, the market for beer is well established and quite mature. Therefore, Bømmeløen should be placed in one of the two top sectors. The y-axis in the Ansoff matrix represents the novelty of the product(s) offered in the market under consideration. Bømmeløen focuses in the production of handcrafted beer, which is not a new product. Therefore, building up the Bømmeløen brand in the Norwegian market is a “market penetration” task.
Among market penetration strategies, we can find the following:
- Price adjustment
- Augmented promotion
- Distribution channels
- Improving products
- Upsurge usage
- Knowing risk and growth
- Barriers to entry
- Be unique, think different
- Strategic alliances
Bømmeløen Minimal Viable Brand (MVB)
Before we move on to decide which strategic steps we should follow to allow Bømmeløen to successfully penetrate the handcrafted beer market in Norway, we should first understand what Bømmeløen’s identity is. We want to establish this in a clear way so that our strategic choices are consistent with Bømmeløen’s identity.
In order to ensure the right internal focus and to be aligned in our strategy we will use the MVB framework which answer six “what’s”:
What we stand for. In Bømmeløen, we stand for Norwegian traditions, culture, people, and quality beer.
What we believe in. In Bømmeløen we believe that the Vikings traditions are beautiful and should be preserved. At the same time, we believe that quality beer should not be exclusive to only certain groups.
What people we seek to engage. Bømmeløen wants to engage people that love the Viking culture and a nice, handcrafted beer.
What distinguishes us. As a local microbrewery, Bømmeloen is committed with its local community. “We wish to create employment and enjoyment in the community where we operate”.
What we offer. We offer the true experience of drinking the quality Viking beer.
What we say and show. “When people recognizes our logo, they know we are a synonym with a great Viking beer.”
Bømmeløen brand needs
We now consider what the needs as a brand are for Bømmeløen. In order to do so, let us look at Figure 3. Bømmeløen Bryggeri is a very young brand. It is a brand that was originally started by a group of friends intending to have fun while crafting their own beer. As such, we can say that we have a blank canvas: we need to build the Bømmeløen brand from the ground up. This means that we need to start by focusing on the base of the pyramid: the “salience” while taking the right steps to ensure that we will move all the way up to the “resonance”.
The brand resonance is at the very top and there are certain steps that should be followed to get there:
Brand identification. Ensure that Bømmeløen is identified by customers. These should be aware about the beer and have positive associations with it.
Brand establishment. Consumers of Bømmeløen should have a full, meaningful image of this beer in their minds. They should start to remember Bømmeløen.
Eliciting response. Once the association is built between Bømmeløen and its consumers, the next steps is to trigger responses. This means to bring out (positive) feelings related to the Bømmeløen.
Relationship. The next stage, and the one with which we reach the top of the pyramid is to convert the responses of Bømmeløen consumers into building the customers’s strong relation with the brand.
Let us consider the different parts in the pyramid one by one.
- Salience. How well are consumers informed of our product and how often it is evoked under purchasing situations.
- Performance. How well do we meet the customer needs. This means, we produce quality beer.
- Imagery. What is the image the consumer creates in their mind when thinking about us.
- Judgements. What do consumers think of our beer.
- Feelings. How is the consumer attached to our beer.
- Resonance. What psychological bond, our customers have created with the Bømmeløen brand.
Towards Bømmeløen’s market penetration strategy
Aiming for a congruent strategy: a market penetration strategy
Figure 4 illustrates the strategy we suggest Bømmeløen should follow: market penetration. This strategy involves focusing on selling Bømmeløen existing products and gaining a higher market share. From the penetration strategies mentioned in the previous page, we believe that Bømmeløen should focus in the following:
- Augmented promotion
- Improving products
- Distribution channels
- Be unique, think different
- Strategic alliances
We note that in reality by “improving products”, we will not focus in actually improving the beer product. We suggest that rather, Bømmeløen should create an improved perception of the value of the beer.
Enter sensory marketing…
According to Aradhna Krishna sensory marketing can be defined as “marketing that engages the consumers’ senses and affects their perception, judgement and behavior” (Krishna, 2012, p.332).
Figure 5 presents a result from Neff (Neff, 2000, p.22): “… the most successful new products appeal on both rational and emotional levels to as many senses as possible.”
Based on the above, we suggest Bømmeløen should design a digital marketing strategy that uses multisensorial marketing, Virtual Reality and HCI as core part of their penetration strategy.
The sensory audit
Figure 6 above, presents the first hypothesis of a sensory snapshot that Bømmeløen should try to focus on during a first iteration of the digital multisensorial marketing campaign.
The intention is that Bømmeløen designs a virtual reality, multisensorial experience that can stimulates the righ senses in order to create:
- An impression of a product with high value (by engaging several senses in accordance to Neff)
- A strong positive impression that creates positive associations between the consumer and Bømmeløen
We strongly believe that such a marketing campaign could greatly contribute to Bømmeløen climbing the brand resonance pyramid in a market that is highly regulated and does not allow advertising the consumption of alcohol in any channel.
In the following section we will expand on how to hit each of the strategic points in bullets, present in this page, by use of the different technologies we have mentioned in the previous paragraphs.
A multisensorial VR strategy implementation
How do we enhance our strategy by the use of the technologies afore mentioned? Let us find out…
- Augmented promotion. As of today, Bømmeløen is not engaged in any kind of promotion. This is, in part, due to the regulations that applicable in Norway: No marketing of alcoholic beverages are allowed in any channel. As we will see later in the document, the touchpoints with the beer consumers that are available to Bømmeløen are extremely limited and almost non-existent. As the reader will see in the section dedicated to creating a customer journey, we will propose mechanisms to have promotions in places that are in line with Norwegian law (spoiler alert: music festivals)
- Improving products. By having multiple iterations of experimentation, Bømmeløen needs to find the right sensory profile that they should engaged in the key touch points of the customer journeys. As we will see, some of these touchpoints can be enhanced via VR, HCI, etc.
- Strategic alliances and distribution channels. It is key for the implementation of the marketing strategy that Bømmeløen establishes strategic alliances with the organizers of key music festivals in Norway, more specifically in Bergen, the locality where Bømmeløen is present. It is also important that Bømmeløen establishes relations with wholesalers, such as retailers (e.g. Meny). The strategic alliances should also include bars with the right profile (a first hypothesis is that the profile should be “high end, modern pubs).
- Be unique, think different. Virtual Reality, Human Computer Interaction, and Multisensorial Digital Marketing definitely have a large “coolness factor”. Bømmeløen can position themselves as a player that is seen as innovative. By being true to Bømmeløen’s Viking identity, they can build a brand that is appealing to various segments: those that value the coolness factor and want to be associated with such brands (e.g. hipsters, millennials, digital natives) and the segment that appreciates the rich Viking culture present in Norway.
Towards building and enhancing Bømmeløen’s customer journey
Key touch points in Bømmeløen’s customer journey and how to enhance them
Next, we will present an overview of the key touch points that can be enhanced in Bømmeløen’s customer journey. As we can see in Figure 7, Bømmeløen is restricted by Norwegian law and its customer journey is restricted (when in comparison to brands that produce for example sugary drinks, e.g. Coca-Cola). In the customer journey we have followed the following iconography:
- Previous experience (at time t – n ). This is a way in which Bømmeløen can overarch their customer experience and is composed mainly of creating a recognition for a need that can be fulfilled by Bømmeløen.
- Need recognition. By being present in summer, or music festivals where it is legal to sell and somehow promote beer, Bømmeløen can offer an “advanced” virtual reality experience. The experience should be designed to preserve the Viking identity that Bømmeløen proud itself of. By engaging festival goers, nice associations can be created: the happiness of having a beer and listening to my favorite band, drinking nice beer while listening to great music and experimenting VR…
- Actual experience (approx. at time n). This is the moment of truth which is very reduced due to the prohibition of marketing of alcohol.
- Consideration and decision making. Bømmeløen has to show its branding in all relevant festivals so as to be present in the mind of the buyer at the moment of truth: the 30 seconds a person stands in front of a shelf before picking up a beer pack.
- Payment, price, delivery, packaging. Bømmeløen has a key touchpoint that they can easily enhance by providing a low cost VR carton box set. For the case of bars as strategic partners, Bømmeløen delivers and sets up a “full-blown” VR boot. Bømmeløen should design the boot in a way that ensures it is easy to use and trouble shoot in order to reduce to invest a large time to train an operator of the VR experience.
- Service, use, product quality. Ensambling the VR carton box set should be a smooth and easy experience for Bømmeløen’s consumers. The same should be truth for logging into the Viking VR experience. The experience itself must be design in order to engage the senses as previously suggested. Analytics in the use of the platform could be extremely beneficial in order to test hypothesis about the sensorial snapshot.
- Future experience (at time t + n). This is a way in which Bømmeløen can overarch their customer experience and is composed mainly of creating a a resonance, brand equity, so that Bømmeløen can gain mind space in their customer base.
- Loyalty, advocacy. Bømmeløen’s objective is to create a good feedback loop. The loop must be bi-directional as illustrated. Backward feeding the data and market reactions in order to improve the “previous experience”phase. Forward to create the positive associations that people have to music festivals in a way that Bømmeløen can exploit.
Pros, cons… implications and follow-up actions
Pros and cons
- Coolness factor. This is something that VR, and multisensorial marketing have in their favor. Even though VR itself is not new, its use is not common nor widespread. Using VR for purposes other than gaming and industrial applications is something that could be worth exploring.
- Uniqueness and originality. Even though we do not think Bømmeløen is the only Viking branded beer in Norway, as of today, in the Norwegian market there are not beer brands offering any sort of VR experience.
- Marketing when marketing is not allowed. If Bømmeløen establishes a good network of strategic partners, they have the potential to extend the, now very limited, reach of their customer journey. They can be present in forums where they could actually build and market their brand.
- Any marketing is better than no marketing(!?). As of today, Bømmeløen is not promoting, marketing, nor seeking to extend the brand awareness in any active manner. The guidelines presented in this document could be a good starting point for the company.
- Attract several consumer segments. We have the hypothesis that by implementing this strategy, Bømmeløen can attract several market segments.
- Requires investment. Starting any marketing campaign requires some sort of investment. Also, the investment necessary to start a VR campaign might be quite significant.
- Breaking the law. Bømmeløen should be very careful not to break the law when trying to extend their customer journey by being present in summer/music festivals and by marketing their product in bars.
- Alienate the existing customer base. It is our hypothesis that by aligning the design of the VR experience with Bømmeløen’s identity, no alienation should be produced. However, it is always difficult to please every person in every segment in a marketing campaign. Bømmeløen is such a young brand that perhaps even in the case of alienation, the market capture by the marketing efforts could be greater than the already stablished customer base.
- Technology should improve your life, not become your life. The author believes that VR has a very addictive side to it. Therefore Bømmeløen should be careful when trying to capture their customers time and attention via VR. Bad associations are easy to form when a brand uses addictive mechanisms to engage customers and keep themselves in their memory.
Implications and follow-up actions
Establish the strategic partner network. Bømmeløen should start actively trying to establish their network of partners. They should start by the largest retailer that is seen as exclusive in Norway (i.e. Meny). They should try to work together with the local music festivals in Bergen (e.g. Bergenfest). If Bømmeløen could not establish a network of bars as partners, they could consider opening a Bømmeløen pub.
Design a full-blown VR, multisensorial experience. More research should be conducted in order to design a meaningful VR experience that can engage the right sounds in the right way with sound landmarks, stunning visuals (e.g. fjords, Vikings, etc.).
Create a take-away VR, multisensorial experience. The takeaway experience should not sacrifice much of the features present in the full-blown VR experience. At the very least it should be able to invoke the memories from the festivals in which consumers have potentially tried the VR experience before. Ideally it should be meaningful enough for people that have not experience the VR boot in festivals and concerts.
Design the packaging of beer in order to deliver a portable VR set. This might be a non-trivial challenge. Designing packaging that delivers and preserves a carton box VR set should be a task taken by professional designers. An option to avoid the costs of designers, could be to have a foldable set that is delivered to consumers when paying at the retailer’s cashier.
Create a social platform where consumers can interact with friends via VR (or other). We believe that Bømmeløen could greatly benefit from the presence of network effects in their customer base. By word of mouth mechanisms or digital referrals, Bømmeløen could increase their number of consumers.
Creating loyalty and extending the Customer Lifecycle Value. Finally, if Bømmeløen succeeds in reaching the top of the brand resonance pyramid present in Figure 3, they could increase their customer loyalty and therefore their consumer’s CLV.
We believe that there is great potential for Bømmeløen in implementing a multisensorial marketing campaign. By the use of fast and small iterations, a la “design thinking” (see Figure 8), Bømmeløen could “fail cheap” avoiding using to many resources and investments in their campaign. We would suggest the following implementation steps,
- Developing their branding iconography and labeling
- Establishing their network of strategic partners
- VR experience at local festivals
- VR experience in local bars
- Takeaway VR experience
- Building the social platform
- Collecting data from consumers using the VR social platform
- Implementing analytics from the data collected
- Segmentation of the customer base
We believe that the design thinking iterations could follow the ordering giving above. In this way, Bømmeløen could stop the iterations at any point without losing the value generated by previous iterations.
As a disclaimer, we want to mention that we had some constraints when it came to the amount of content we could deliver. Therefore, our analysis doesn’t touch upon all of the complexities of developing a multisensorial VR experience for digital marketing. If you are interested in this topic, I suggest you take a look at Carlos’ article: Designing multisensory VR experiences.
About the writer
Arturo is a technologist born in Veracruz, Mexico and has been living in Norway since 2010. He completed his BSc and MSc in Mexico and his PhD in Trondheim, Norway. He is taking the last semester of his Executive MBA at BI in Oslo, to be concluded in September 2020.
During his experience as a scientific researcher, which started with the publication of a couple of papers in international journals after his BSc thesis, he has participated in several research projects. The results of these projects can be found in the 6 research papers shared below. The topics of these projects vary from theoretical physics, mathematics, statistics, and applications of Big Data technologies to understand human behavior. Part of Arturo’s training as an academic includes the use of different programming languages and scientific tools such as Mathematica, Matlab, C++, being Python one of his most common go-to tools.
After concluding his PhD work at NTNU, Arturo made a transition into the private sector in 2015. He started leading the development of the Mobility Analytics service in the business division of Telenor Norway. Arturo led the development of this service, from strategic aspects and all the way to the technical aspects of the development. Not only did Arturo work in tasks such as developing Go To Market strategies but also with hands-on development of GIS data visualizations and development of the code-base to power the Mobility Analytics Service.
The extensive experience as a leader and communicator in the scientific and private sector fields has made Arturo a firm believer that it is not often that leaders and executives make decisions based on hard, cold numbers, but that it is necessary to communicate the results from the analytic work via great story-telling and understanding of the business mechanisms in which value can be created. This realization made Arturo take the decision to start his EMBA program in 2019.
During his EMBA studies with a specialization in managing and developing digital enterprises, and which include a leadership program, Arturo has expanded his business knowledge to include fields such as digitalization strategies, innovation frameworks (such as design thinking lean and agile), entrepreneurship, HR management, and value creation and capture.
As his professional track shows, Arturo has a mind eager to always learn and apply his knowledge. He has taken several courses and certifications within Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence and has virtually never stopped studying, even after concluding his doctoral degree.
Arturo enjoys mentoring and helping colleagues and people in general. He is always open to grab a coffee, a slice of pizza or a pint of beer, so… feel free to send him a message and connect with him, even if you haven’t met him in person.