Swarovski’s customer in the digital world
Introduction to the literature review chapter
Swarovski is one of the most popular luxury brands at the international level, and similar to any other company, it has to continually assess and recognize the changing features in the micro and macro environments and adapt to them.
The organizational efforts are such concentrated not only around the production of high end crystal products, but also on the business decisions surrounding production, distribution, retail and so on. In this order of ideas, an important emphasis falls on the marketing efforts completed by the company in ensuring the retail of its products, their appeal among the customer base and the final profitability of the firm.
Based on this starting point, the current section focuses on three distinctive areas, as follows:
The experiential marketing, with specific emphasis on the means in which the target market influences the company and other customer and community decisions
The emotional brand engagement, referring specifically to the means in which the company engages its customers and creates strong brand relationships with them, and finally
The integrated marketing communications, at which level emphasis is placed on united efforts of customer decisions and relationships, including the integration of technologies within customer communications.
This chapter has the scope of introducing the reader to the marketing efforts completed by the crystal products manufacturer, and the deeper analysis is completed throughout the integrated three sections. The limitation of this chapter is that it relies primarily on secondary sources, which could be biased or influenced by specific factors (such as author perceptions, time of the study conducted and so on). The limitation is however addressed through the usage of reliable sources and the integration of valid information.
The strength of this current section is represented by the fact that it centralizes relevant information in the specialized literature and presents it in an integrated manner. The section as such represents a solid starting point in the completion of the current research effort, as well as in the completion of other research endeavors in the future.
In order to maximize the relevance and utility of the literature review section, the study of the available literature will focus on three different categories of resources, each one characterized by its own strengths and weaknesses. These sources are listed and briefly described below:
Books and textbooks, which are characterized by the fact that they address the issues in an in depth manner and they retrieve vast information on the studied topic. Nevertheless, they can be outdated and present information that is no longer relevant in the contemporaneous context and the setting of the currently assessed matter.
Journal articles in the specialized sources, which are characterized by the fact that they are highly reliable, by being peer reviewed. Nevertheless, they can be difficult to access and they generally address specific and niche subjects, which may reveal a decreased relevance to the assessed topic.
Finally, the review of the literature also integrates articles on the internet, at various websites. The downside to using these sources is that they are seldom peer reviewed and they can be biased. Nevertheless, they are easy to access and they present timely information, of increased relevance to the studied topic. The combination of the three sources helps maximize their strengths and minimize their limitations.
2. Experiential marketing
This section of the literature review chapter, as well as the following two sections, will be characterized by the integration of two sub-sections. Emphasis would fall on ensuring the comprehension of the topic of experiential marketing, and then presenting how this has been implemented at the crystal products manufacturer. The primary scope is that of assessing the concept in the context of Swarovski, but this endeavor might be limited by the scarcity of resources detailing the subject. Through these lenses then, the assessment of Swarovski’s engagement in experiential marketing is limited by the volume of information released by the firm in this direction.
2.1. Understanding experiential marketing
The specialized literature approaches the concept of experiential marketing from a multitude of angles and devices a series of definitions to explain the meaning of the concept. Nonetheless, the essence of the various definitions is virtually the same, and the differences are observed at the level of the terminology used. Some examples of definitions of experiential marketing, as these are presented in various sources, are revealed below. Schmitt and Rogers (2008, p.132) for instance state that:
“Experiential marketing is said to occur ‘when a company intentionally uses services as the stage and goods as props to engage individual consumers in a way that creates a memorable event’ (Pine and Gilmore, 1997).”
This first definition as such revolves around the creation of memorable customer experiences, which in turn determine the customers to return to the firm and make sustained purchases. The definition provided by Pine and Gilmore, and quoted by Schmitt and Rogers (2008) also introduces into the discussion the concepts of products and services, which are manipulated by the firm to create customer value; the products and the services do not represent the final offer of the firm, but the means to creating customer experiences. A similar approach is also seen in the following definition, where nevertheless emphasis falls on the creation of a powerful relationship between the company and its customer base. According to the editors at Wise Geek:
“As a unique approach to the task of marketing goods and services, experiential marketing is a concept that integrates elements of emotions, logic, and general thought processes to connect with the consumer. The goal of experiential marketing is to establish the connection in such a way that the consumer responds to a product offering based on both emotional and rational response levels.”
The above definition is noteworthy due to its mentioning of the customer response to the company’s experiential marketing efforts. Subsequently, the usage of experiential marketing is aimed to generate a purchase decision on the part of the customer, and this purchase decision would be supported at both emotional as well as rational levels. In this setting, it is important to note the distinction made by Glyn Atwal and Alistair Williams (2009), who argue that under traditional marketing perceptions, customers are rational and make purchase decisions based on logical processes of thinking. However, in the context of experiential marketing, the customers are perceived as emotional individuals, who base their purchase decisions on the desire to gin personal pleasure; this feature is highly applicable in the jewelry industry.
Clinton Lanier (2008) takes a different approach and states that a major part in experiential marketing is played by the drama of the interaction, namely the drama in creating the customer value, and the drama in perceiving the message by the customers.
Lanier (2008, p.239) as such states that it is important to redefine “the domain of experiential marketing as the creating, staging, engaging and incorporating of a market-based, firm-driven experiential offering. The domain begins with the intended dramatic effects and ends with the perceived dramatic effects. The drama is captured in the type of offering that is created, distributed and engaged. As a result, the dramatic intentionality of both the firm and the consumer play a key role in experiential marketing and distinguish it from the experiential consumption, which is only the intention of the consumer plays a role.”
While the above definitions revolve around similar applications of experiential marketing, Don Schultz, Beth Barnes, Heidi Schultz and Marian Azzaro (2009) point out to a distinctive feature of experiential marketing, namely its possibility to include a live event, which helps strengthen customer-company relationships. Furthermore, the authors believe that experiential marketing inspires the customers and constitutes a solid marketing tool, which further advances brand trust and awareness. According to Schultz, Barnes, Schultz and Azzaro (2009, p.277)
“Experiential marketing is generally defined as any kind of live event marketing experience where customers have the opportunity to interact with a product or brand face-to-face. [â€¦] Experiential marketing was an effective way to generate brand understanding and purchase and even inspire brand advocacy or positive word-of-mouth communications among consumers.”
The modern day companies become more and more interested in experiential marketing due to the financial advantage of the effort. Specifically, experiential marketing creates and enforces positive experiences for the customers, who then become more willing to pay the extra price for the purchase of the items of interest. These companies do not only sell products, but positive experiences which capture consumer interest. This translates into a situation in which the customers become more interested in the respective items and companies and increase their purchase volumes. Subsequently, this materializes in higher revenues and profits for the respective firms (Schmitt and Rogers, 2008).
Within the specific context of jewelry products, experiential marketing has become an essential tool. Luxury products customers have high expectations of the luxury products manufacturers and it is no longer sufficient for these to create high quality products. The luxury products manufacturers as such have to combine high product quality with high quality adjacent services and strategies. Consequently, marketing efforts become more and more important.
Glyn Atwal and Alistair Williams (2009) for instance argue that the creators of luxury products have to use marketing efforts to identify new customers’ needs even before the customers become aware of these needs. In other words, they have to “stay in front of luxury consumers” (Atwal and Williams, 2009, p.338). And in order to do so, the luxury products manufacturers strive to create positive experiences for their customers in order to inspire them and to stimulate their purchase decisions.
Otherwise put, in the context of luxury products, experiential marketing is growingly present and critical and this is due to the complex nature of the luxury sector. Here, the producers seek to transmit the image of high quality, product authenticity, as well as performance. However, aside from these statements, the luxury products must also transmit and sell a customer experience; and this experience is often one which relates the luxury products with the lifestyle of the customers (Atwal and Williams, 2009).
Bernd Schmitt (1999) agrees with the increasing role of experiential marketing in the modern day industry, and, in this line of thoughts, he argues that there are three distinctive means in which the firms can create pleasant customer experiences. These refer to the following:
Sensory experiences, through which the customers are able to feel the experience proposed by the company
Affective experiences, at the level of which the customers in the selected target segment are able to feel the experiences transmitted by the company
Creative and cognitive experiences, through which the selected customers assess the experiences proposed by the firm in terms of thought processes
Physical, behavioral and lifestyle experiences, through which the experience proposed by the company is acted upon and therefore such experienced by the customers, and last
The relational experiences which create social-identity experiences, through which the customers in the selected target market sense the proposed experience by becoming related to different social groups or cultures (Schmitt, 1999).
The importance of experiential marketing is also increasing in the context of a rapidly evolving it community, which impacts virtually all business dimensions, including the marketing operations. Some examples as to how the it community impacts business operations include superior communication opportunities with the customers through new media, such as electronic mailing or the social media, superior tools for data processing regarding customer behavior and so on (Bak and Stair, 2011).
In the context of the digital economy then, firms intensify their efforts of appealing to the customers with the integrated usage of technologies. And this feature applies to the context of experiential marketing as the companies become able to create customer experiences in not only a quicker manner, but with the usage of multiple media that better reach the consumers. Ultimately then, it supported experiential marketing is expected to further boom in the future, and also to be provided at more cost effective rates (Schmitt, 1999).
In this evolving society then, the experiential marketing would be increasing in popularity due to its main four functions, namely the focus on customers, the holistic nature of consumption, the eclectic traits of the methods and the reliance on both rational and emotional features of the customers (Schmitt, 1999). And with the usage of it integrated experiential marketing, the business institutions become better able to assess and know their customers, to create favorable experiences, to influence customer behavior, and to further advance their brand strength, their sales and their final profitability (Smilansky, 2009).
All in all, experiential marketing is here to create complementary solutions by which the companies replace traditional marketing and generate new gains through experiential marketing. This application allows them to better know customers, better influence them and generate new demand and sales. Schmitt (1999, p.67) argues that:
“Traditional marketing has provided a valuable set of strategies, implementation tools and methodologies for the industrial age. Now that we have entered a new era, it is necessary to shift attention from the features-and-benefits approach advocated by traditional marketing to customer experiences. Managers need to consider new concepts and approaches, and most of all, new approaches within the organization to capitalize on the new opportunities offered by experiential marketing.”
2.2. Experiential marketing at Swarovski
The crystal products manufacturer has not, in essence, implemented an integrated model of experiential marketing. Otherwise said, research conducted on the company’s website as well as on other websites indicates that the organization has not taken a clear stand to argue that it would be using experiential marketing in order to appeal to its customers.
Conversely, this does not mean that the company did or does not make use of experiential marketing. By reviewing the literature, it becomes clear to see that the organization has made use of experiential marketing in various attempts to approach the customer, yet it must have paid little attention to the theoretical construct of the concept. In other words, while not clearly recognizing and integrating the theoretical framework, Swarowki has often used the concept and application of experiential marketing in its marketing efforts.
In order to prove this point, the lines below reveal some of these instances when the crystal products manufacturer has employed experiential marketing, with or without a stated intention in this sense. Before engaging in such an endeavor however, it is important to restate the main traits of experiential marketing in order to best identify them in the particular case of Swarovski. In this order of ideas, the primary characteristics of experiential marketing include the following:
The products and services are no longer the core of the marketing message, but they are the mechanisms employed to create a positive marketing experience
Experiential marketing places an increased emphasis on well developed relationships between the company and its customer base
Experiential marketing assesses customers as both rational and emotional beings, who base their purchase decisions on a combination of logical arguments, as well as feelings
Experiential marketing engages some degree of dramatic effects, and last
Experiential marketing often includes a live event, through which the customers can interact with the firm, observe the products, become aware and demanding of them in a wider context and in a positive experience.
Based on the research conducted, Swarovki’s emphasis on experiential marketing has been mostly felt at the level of events. The company as such organizes, sponsors and participates in various events in order to strengthen its brand and position within the market. One relevant example in this sense is represented by the company’s annual sponsorship of the CFDA, where the crystal products manufacturer pays for the awards granted, as well as offers two $10,000 prizes to the best newcomer designers.
The executives at Swarovski, namely the company’s over, Helmut Swarovski, states that this endeavor is a costly one, yet the organization perceives it as a necessary marketing strategy through which to create positive relationships with the customers as well as with the players in the industry. Furthermore, Swarovski uses these events in order to scout for new talented designers, who are essential to the company’s ability to serve its customers (Rushton, 2004).
According to Michael Dunn, the creation of events is an increasingly successful marketing experience as it allows the firm to target specific customer segments and to create pleasant and positive experiences for these customers. Additionally, aside from other marketing tools, events can create far better and superior experiences as they address selected customers, with the usage of the methods to which they respond best. Subsequently, the events can maximize the positive experience for the customers as they can be easily targeted and customized to the specifics of the selected customer base.
Events are often created through experiential marketing with established and powerful brands, such as Swarovski, and the scope of these events is to further advance and strengthen the organizational brand, to create more knowledge and more demand for the company’s products. The events are often popular among the consumers, and the buyers and prospective buyers often look forward to these events (Dunn, 2009).
Swarovki has recently set out to introduce its line of CRYSTALLIZED Swarovski Elements as a noteworthy brand within the fashion industry. With the same occasion, the company strived to enhance its presence and popularity within the Chinese market base. With these two objectives in mind, the organization participated in the China International Clothing and Accessories Fair (CHIC).
The event is one of the most popular ones organized in China and it is cherished opportunity for industry leaders to meet and interact with their customers. It is usually attended by more than 1,000 brands from across the globe and it creates opportunities to interact with both customers, but also prospective business partners. CHIC spreads out through a duration of four days and creates positive experiences for the customers, as well as business opportunities for the participants (Biz Trade Shows, 2012).
In preparing their presence and evolution in the China International Clothing and Accessories Fair, Swarovski solicited the support of marketing specialist firm George P. Johnson, which provided the necessary support and expertise in preparing for the event. Swarovski’s evolution in the event had to be strong, yet the company’s resources were limited. Swarovski competed against large size, multinational corporations, fashion industry leaders, who allocated large budgets to their participation in the CHIC.
Like its budget, Swarovski’s space at the exhibition was limited, but the organization overcame these limitations by the placement and arrangement of its stand. Swarovski as such rented a space right near the entrance and used lights and mirrors to create the sensation of more space. The editors at the George P. Johnson Website (2012) state:
“Using glass and mirrors created the illusion of more space and allowed visitors to see through the shop. Plus, paired with the lighting arrangements, the glass material emphasized the sparkle of the crystals. Sections of the exhibit space were divided by mannequins and crystal consoles, which showcased the products, while still providing a private area for discussions with trade buyers.”
During the four days of the exhibition, the Swarovski booth welcomed over 3,000 visitors. Throughout the same period, the company signed almost 100 contracts with industry buyers in China, interested in purchasing and reselling the Swarovski products. These results were assessed at the quantitative level, meaning that they are represented by numeric figures (Taylor, 2005). Still, Swarovski’s attendance to the CHIC event has also led to the generation of qualitative results, which cannot be assessed through facts and figures, but which apply in the specific context in which they were created (Thomas, 2003). At this level, the event created and enforced positive customer experiences and inspired the buyers, and moved them to action (Website of George P. Johnson, 2012).
While the creation of events to generate positive experiences is the obvious trademark of Swarovski’s implementation of experiential marketing, there are also some other examples as to how the company seeks to create and enforce positive customer experiences as the basis of future demands. For instance, while the actual information in this direction is limited, the company seems to be recognizing the advent of technology and seeks to integrate the digital evolutions in its operations.
In this order of ideas, emphasis has been placed on increasing the digital access of the customers to the company’s products, through online stores primarily, but also organized efforts to better use technology to attain marketing and business objectives. The company as such uses technology to better assess and understand its customers, but also to improve its internal operations, such as the integration of the digital solutions in the creation of the designs. All in all, Swarovski employs digitalization through experiential marketing in order to enhance its internal position, but also its relationships with the various categories of stakeholders, such as customers, business partners, the public and so on (Freeman, 2010).
Ultimately however, the integration of digitalization through experiential marketing is aimed to strengthen the company’s brand, to help it evolve and to ensure its applicability within the changing environment. According to Markus Langes-Swarovski, one of the board members or Swarovski, quoted by Bevolo, Gofman and Moskowitz (2011, p.102):
“We are all experiencing digitalization, which is really only one of many different contemporary currents. In this context, I would again like to stress how important it is for our brand to operate in more than just a product-oriented manner. What matters much more to us is the brand’s historical core, its content-nucleus, which is capable of articulating itself in each and every instance, including digitally.”
As part of their commitment to technologic integration and development, Swarovski created a new effort, launched at the Shanghai exhibit, and which amazed fans and industry players. The organization as such made use of the social media to create a new sense of the products and to better appeal to their customers.
“Precision-cut crystal maker Swarovski is enticing public involvement in its Shanghai exhibit with mobile and social touchpoints that interact with local Chinese consumers as well as those around the world. The brand is using QR codes and Chinese foursquare-esque mobile application Jiepang along with country-specific social media channels to enhance its Sparkling Secrets exhibit through the month of July. Swarovski chose these channels due to past successes in reaching consumers via social media, per the brand” (Carr, 2012).
The combination of experiential marketing and social media helps create and enforce new positive customer experiences. The message sent by the firm is one of mystery, experience, subtlety and sophistication. The touchpoints add to the customer experience and they are complementary to the company’s overall message and customer approach. They as such help create a larger company image, through which customers and attracted and satisfied not only through the products and the services, but also by the adjacent experiences. This effort as such helps the company to better appeal to its customer base, to create better experiences for them and to inspire the evolution and the trust in the brand (Carr, 2012).
3. Emotional brand engagement
3.1. The concept of emotional brand engagement
The companies in the modern day business society have come to compete in a highly dynamic sector, in which a uniformization is observed at various levels, such as access to technologies or the access to the customer base. At the level of technologies for instance, these become more prominent and more present within the business society. Technologic innovation now occurs at rapid rates and technology has gradually become a commodity (Holmes, 2008). In this context then, technologic integration and innovation no longer represent competitive advantages, but mere business necessities.
Then, at the level of the access to the customers, this uniformization is best assessed in light of globalization. This phenomenon allows the firms to transcend boundaries and benefit from the comparative advantages of other states, such as more natural resources or more cost effective labor forces (Stern, 2011). Aside from this however, globalization has liberalized the markets and has created a context in which the companies can gain access to wider customer markets. This can occur either through direct interactions with the foreign market, as the company launches direct sales in the foreign region, or they can refer to indirect interactions, through online sales for instance, or through sales with the aid of intermediaries. Each of these distribution strategies has its own advantages and disadvantages, such as the fact that direct interactions solidify the company-customer experience and relationship, but indirect distribution allows the company to create operational and cost efficiencies by capitalizing on the distribution network already created by the intermediary (Waters, 2003).
Returning to the companies, the modern day business society presents them with similar opportunities and threats, and in this context, they often come to create and sell similar products and services. That is, parity is created between the products, services, and also the business strategies of the business organizations. The satisfaction of the customers then is no longer a function of quality and rational thought process, but is coming to be influenced by other features, such as brand loyalty, personal perceptions and emotions.
In this setting, the comapnies have to device new methods of attracting, satisfying and retaining customers. At this level, they come to place more and more emphasis on the strengthening of their brand. But in the modern day business context, all organizations come to emphasize more on brand, and a parity is created at the level of brand strategy as well. In order to respond to this new challenge, some firms come to change their own approach to brand management. They as such strive to move away from the rational dimension of brand management, and to place more emphasis on the emotional management of the brand. At this level, it is understood that the buyers are both rational and emotional, and that the rational features contribute in the thought process, yet the final purchase decision is made at the emotional level. Temporal (2011) argues:
“As parity becomes the norm, and brands match each other feature by feature and attribute by attribute, it is becoming harder to create a brand strategy through rational means. So, while consumers screen the rational elements of quality and other compelling product attributes as part of the buying process, the real decision to buy is taken at an emotional level.”
This organizational emphasis on emotional brand management is supported by the neuro-scientifical community, which has found vast evidence that the people are emotional beings, making decisions rather rapidly and based on impulse. The emotional part of the brain for instance, has a larger size than the rational part of the brain, and it sends up to ten times more signals than the rational side of the brain. Overall, unlike what has been believed so far, decision making in individuals is more so based on emotion and intuition, rather than careful rational processes (Temporal, 2011).
In the specific case of the business institutions, they use this new knowledge to better understand the mechanisms in which the customers make their purchase decision. They as such integrate the scientifically proven knowledge about the human brain to improve their business strategies and to better approach the selected customer markets (Williamson, 2002).
At a rational level, the buyers would assess their need for the displayed product; at an emotional level however, they would personally desire the item. Furthermore, at a rational level, the buyers would assess the features and functionalities of the item, whereas, at the emotional level, they would assess its appeal. The table below reveals the more notable distinctions between ration and emotion when making a decision to buy.
Do I need the product?
I want the product!
What does this product do?
This product looks so cool!
What is the price of this product?
I will buy this product!
How does this product compare to & #8230; (another item)?
This is the only product I want!
Source: Temporal, 2011
In their emotional brand strategies then, organizations exploit the emotional dimensions of the buyers (Elliott and Percy, 2007) and it becomes clear that the success of the brand depends on its ability to raise emotional responses on the part of the audience. Temporal (2011):
“Neuro-science makes it clear that brand managers need to employ emotional brand strategies, as the endgame for any brand strategy is brand and loyalty, which are emotions and not rational thoughts.
Given the increasing scientific evidence of the power of emotion in people’s decisions and actions, we can categorically state that without emotional brand strategies, it is impossible to build great brands.”
Emotional branding is contagious within the entire business community, but it seems to be more applicable within the context of organizations selling specific products, such as motorcycles or luxury items. At the level of the companies selling more common goods, with a decreased appeal and emotion to buyers, such as checking accounts, the emphasis on emotional branding is decreased. In other words, the specialized literature has assessed emotional brand management in the context of specific, out of the ordinary products, such as sports cars, perfumes or jewelry. But regardless of the products selected to be promoted through emotions, the underlying concept in emotional branding remains the ability to understand the customer mechanisms of though and emotion (McEwen, 2004).
In the specific context of the jewelry industry, the application of emotional brand management is more suitable than in most other sectors, due to the characteristics of the industry and the customer perceptions. When buying jewelry, people do not only buy a simple product of precious or semi-precious metals, but they become engaged as they make their decision based on hopes and expectations, to look good, to be appreciated, to enjoy the piece of jewelry and so on.
When buying jewelry, the individuals have some practical aspects, such as the ease of wearing the respective item or the affordability of the item. But more than rational arguments, the purchase of jewelry is linked to emotions. People expect their jewelry to represent them and be extensions of who they are; they expect the jewelry to have specific values and meanings and they form deep emotional attachments to their jewelry (White and Steel).
In such a setting, the jewelry manufacturers come to promote the emotional dimensions of their products at a larger scale, and with the usage of multimedia. In this environment, they promote their products, they stimulate individuals to engage in discussions and share information about the products, and they also use the multimedia to gain inspiration on new jewelry designs. At this stage, the integration of multimedia in the emotional branding strategy is quite restricted, but it reveals impressive potential for the future. In this order of ideas, a new research conducted by Hazel White and Ewan Steel found that
“A new synthesis can be made between the jeweler’s craft and multimedia design, both in practice methodology and shared concept. This relationship is likely to develop new hybrid craft practices and new aesthetics that enhance emotional response in the field of tangible computing.”
At a more practical level, it is important to reveal the mechanisms which are and can be employed by the firms in order to emotionally engage their customers. At this specific level, given the novelty of the topic, the information in the available sources is scarce. Still, there do exist a few internet articles which point out to the steps to be taken by the organizations in order to emotionally enforce their brands. These refer to the following:
Raising the interest of the audience in the promoted product and brand
Getting the audience to consider the purchase of the promoted item
Reinforcing the purchase decision as the right and winning decision
Stimulating customers to become loyal and to themselves desire to make sustained purchases from the company’s products, in order to generate sales revenues
Creating a brand ritual in order to ensure that the brand becomes an integrant party in the life of the consumer, and last
Getting the audience to support the company and become the cheerleader of the brand (Goldner).
Overall, emotional branding is supported by scientific evidence that the purchase decision is more so influenced by the emotional dimensions of the human brain, rather than by the rational thought process. The firms employ these findings in appealing to their customers’ emotions, yet they still have to devise the best strategies in creating and using emotional branding to attain their pre-established business objectives.
3.2. Emotional brand management at Swarovski
As it has been mentioned throughout the previous section, the field and application of emotional branding is relatively novel, and the companies still have to devise the best mechanisms of employing the scientifically supported findings. In the case of crystal products manufacturer Swarovki, the company has not taken a clear stand to argue that it would be using emotional branding to engage its customers, or how it would go about in implementing this endeavor. Nevertheless, the assessment of the company’s strategies reveals that the organization has in fact employed emotional branding in several circumstances, in order to better appeal to its customers and to retain them. At this level, the situations relevant to emotional branding include the following:
Emotional commitment and culture (internal branding)
Emotional appeal through campaigns, and last,
The utilization of multimedia to promote the Swarovski items.
The first example as to how the company implemented emotional branding is revealed at the internal level of the Australian company. At this specific level, the company has strived to create a solid vision for the future, to set out important goals and to engage all of its staff members in the attainment of these goals. Today, the company bases its operations on values of responsibility, passion and imagination and their mission is that of “adding sparkle to people’s everyday lives” (Swarovski Website, 2012).
At the beginning of the twenty first century, Swarovski recognized the challenges of the new century and millennium and strived to respond to them by reshaping its internal culture and structure. The executives were as such replaced with younger professionals, who shared and implemented new visions for the future. They set out new and challenging objectives and they sought to engage all of the staff members in the new corporate vision. They as such sought to create emotional engagement on the part of the employees and as such trigger their commitment to the new objectives. Matzler, Bailorn and Tschemernjak (2007) believe that:
“When doing so, it was essential to penetrate into the company as deeply as possible and to trigger emotional commitment with regard to actively planning for the company’s future, since it is always dangerous to formulate guiding principles within the framework of normative management and to present these to employees in the form of a few lines. It is important to embed these values and ideas in employees’ heads on an emotional level.”
In this setting then, the company’s efforts of emotional branding were commenced within the organization. The organization emphasized dramatically on its product, the crystal, and its properties and created the image of “poetry of precision”; this image resulted as a combination of technology and lyricism applied to the crystals. The image would come to represent the firm in its external relationships, but also at its internal levels and departments, as all internal processes, from technology to administration, revolved around this philosophy.
Swarovski employed a series of tools in the creation and internal enforcement of the Swarovski brand. It emphasized continually on the romantic dimension of the brand and the products and it hired professionals to present this in visuals, such as images and videos. The company even hired directors and producers from Los Angeles in order to shoot videos of impact. Alternatively, emphasis was simultaneously placed on idealism and careful execution, and the positive results were shown at both internal levels, as well as external, as the employees became spokespersons for the Swarovski brand. Matzler, Bailorn and Tschemernjak (2007) argue that:
“It is not sufficient to hire professional script writers if these values and the possible future of the company are not shared honestly and emotionally. It is important to keep in mind that we only developed these very elaborate tools for the purposes of internal communication with our employees. But when content and form come together and 16,000 employees feel the Swarovski brand, you can save a great deal on traditional advertising.”
Aside from internal branding, the organization strived intensely to appeal to the emotions of the buyers and it did so in numerous instances, during which it promoted the Swarovski products as more than pieces of jewelry, but as fashion statements, as promises and hopes. Some examples in this sense include the following:
The company’s promise to “turn the ordinary intro extraordinary,” as according to the Website of Swarovski (2012)
The sustained and stated pursuit of perfection in an effort to improve what is already good, and to use the crystals to bring happiness to the lives of the people
The introduction of the Swarovski label on the products in order to provide the sense of trust, guarantee, quality, authenticity and integrity. This effort was visible in 2007 with the introduction of the Crystallized Swarovski Elements and the label “Made with Crystallized Swarovski Elements.” This marketing campaign was the first in which the organization directly addressed the end consumers (Kotler and Pfoertsch, 2010).
The creation of displays which, with the aid of technology, create and enforce positive customer experiences, but which also appeal to the emotional side of the customers. In 2012 for instance, Swarovski organized an exhibition at the London Design Museum and integrated a chandelier of over 2000 suspended crystals, which changed its shape constantly, and created, as explained by Alperovich, (2012) “an emotional spectacle without using a single shining light.”
The presentation and promotion of the Swarovski jewelry as sources of not only beauty, but very sources of emotional quality and refinement. The Swarovski Gem line was introduced as, as the website mentions, “a new and poetic, anti-industrial expression for vintage, heirloom and heritage. A soft, soulful aesthetic, with an emotional quality, showing the mark of the maker. Hand-made and artisanal, simple, honest yet polished with elegant refinement, inspired by studio pottery with a reference to 50s modernity and iconic sophistication. For the artistic, individualist who loves all things vintage and heritage brands.” Additionally, the same collection was described as a journey intro the extraordinary. The Swarowski Gem Website also states that “Drifting away from ordinariness, reality and normality, mastering the art of illusion. A journey into an extraordinary, rich, imaginary universe of hyper-reality, of lush, opulent and intricate gardens of magnified flora and fauna. Elaborate, intricate and embellished, this trend explores modern opulence”
All in all, at all levels of the product placement and promotions, the company has made intense usage of metaphors and other language and visual constructs to present its products in a light in which it could create tremendous emotional benefits for the buyers. Still, aside from internal branding and customer orientation, Swarovski’s emotional brand engagement is also observed at the level of multimedia usage. At this level, the company has created its marketing campaigns with the integration of various and numerous media, as opposed to the usage of a single traditional media. In other words, the company has integrated video inputs, text messages, recordings and other such media in order to capture and transmit the desired content.
One relevant example as to how Swarovski used multimedia is offered by the London Exhibit, where the company used a multitude of media to create the atmosphere and construct its messages. The organization as such engaged “LEDs, laser lights, mirrors, light painting, intangible holograms and off course Swarovski crystals to explore different ways to recover that lost connection we have with intangible things within a fast developing digital age” (Alperovich, 2012).
Within this exhibit, designer Ron Arad created a shining cascade of Swarovski crystals and 1,000 white LED lights which interacted with the public by displaying text messages and tweets. Another designed created a room with diamond shaped chandeliers highlighted by laser lights, and at the center of which crystals were placed (Alperovich, 2012). Overall, Swarovski’s marketing approach and customer appeal strategies are filled with multimedia efforts and this is part of the company’s integrated effort to adjust to the needs of the changing society.
4. Integrated marketing communications
Finally, the last issue to be addressed throughout the literature review chapter is represented by the concept and application of integrated marketing communications. Similar to the two previous subsections, the current effort is structured into two parts, the first part revolving around the comprehension of the concept of integrated marketing communications, followed by a second part, focused on the means in which Swarovski implements integrated marketing communications.
4.1. The concept of integrated marketing communications
As the business community continues to evolve, business institutions come to place more emphasis on marketing operations, and not just any type of marketing operations. Specifically, more and more emphasis is placed on the marketing operations that are unified and integrated within the same organizational context and which function together to maximize the company’s chances of attaining its overall objectives.
This effort is commonly known as integrated marketing communications (IMC) and the definition of the concept is rather simplistic. At the most basic level, IMC refers to the integration of all marketing endeavors into a single unified program, rather than the completion of the marketing initiatives in an isolated manner (Lake). The definitions of this concept as they are available in the specialized literature may often vary in terminology, but they virtually enunciate and transmit the same message. The lines below reveal some of the definitions of integrated marketing communications, as these are revealed within the available sources: According to Lake,
Integrated marketing communications represent “a management concept that is designed to make all aspects of marketing communication such as advertising, sales promotion, public relations, and direct marketing work together as a unified force, rather than permitting each to work in isolation.”
At the level of this definition, intense emphasis is placed on the unification of the marketing efforts and the elimination of their isolated completion. The editors at MMC Learning however take a slightly different approach and state integrated marketing communications revolves around the integration of only the promotional efforts (one specific set of marketing tasks) and that the scope of this integration is that of harmonious completion of the tasks. The editors at MMC Learners state that:
“Integrated Marketing Communications is a simple concept. It ensures that all forms of communications and messages are carefully linked together. At its most basic level, Integrated Marketing Communications, or IMC, as we’ll call it, means integrating all the promotional tools, so that they work together in harmony.”
Terence a. Shimp (2008) does not state to which side of marketing IMC is addressed, but mentions that the concept is most interesting due to its underlying marketing objective of influencing the behavior of the customers and stimulating them to make sustained purchase of the company’s products and services. He provides one of the most comprehensive definitions available in the sources and this reflects several dimensions of integrated marketing communications. Shrimp (2008, p.10) argues:
“IMC is a communications process that entails the planning, creation, integration and implementation of diverse forms of marcom (advertisements, sales promotions, publicity releases, events etc.) that are delivered over time to a brand’s targeted customers and prospects. The goal of IMC is ultimately to influence or directly affect the behavior of the targeted audience. IMC considers all touch points, or sources of contact, that a customer / prospect has with the brand as potential delivery channels for messages and makes use of all communication methods that are relevant to customers / prospects. IMC requires that all of a brand’s communication medial deliver a consistent message. The IMC process further necessitates that the customer / prospect is the starting point for determining the types of messages and media that will serve best to inform, persuade and induce action.”
As the concept of integrated marketing communications has been cleared, it is now useful to assess its evolution. At the beginning of the century for instance, integrated marketing communications was considered a utopia, a fantasy that could not be attained within the real life context of the imperfect market place. Furthermore, some marketing specialists agreed that it was necessary to intensify the organizational efforts to support the integration of the marketing initiatives, yet, it was highly uncertain as to what measures should be taken to ensure this outcome of marketing integration. Nevertheless, a real need was identified.
Today however, the economic organizations of various sizes come to pay more attention to the integration of their marketing communications in an overall organizational programme. Larger size companies possess and allocate larger budgets to this endeavor, but the smaller size companies also pay more attention to integrating their marketing efforts. Additionally, an important note to be made is that the larger size companies, especially those led through innovation and adaptation to the changing environment, such as Google Inc., for instance, will create their own, unique, models of marketing integration (Olenski, 2012).
Overall, despite the initial reticence to integrated marketing communications, the contemporaneous business society is finding ways and methods of creating it. Nevertheless, much remains yet to be done in order to ensure full marketing integration. Forbes editor Steve Olenski for instance, identified eleven levels at which marketing initiatives ought to be integrated and created an ideal percentage for integration, as well as estimated the real life percentage. For instance, he argues that it is necessary to ensure consistency across the integration effort, and this consistency should have an 85 per cent, whereas in real life, it is only present at a 50 per cent rate. Additionally, he argues that it is necessary for the integration effort to be convenient by 84 per cent, whereas in real life, its percentage is of only 41 per cent (Olenski, 2012). The table below reveals the current integration levels and the ideal integration percentages for the stages of integration identified by Olenski, as expected and perceived by the customers.
The customers expect a consistent and convenient shopping experience within the merchant’s stores and online sites
The customers believe that their shopping needs are best served by a combination of in-store and online experiences
The customers expect to find accessible (friendly, knowledgeable, available) sales and services when they visit the retail stores and also easy to find “help/contact info” when they shop on one’s website or mobile store
The customers expect marketing collateral (in-store promotions, catalogs, seasonal selling) to be consistently presented from the web to the store or mobile to reinforce their perceptions of the brand
Customers expect to be able to look up product availability at local stores before making a visit to the store
Customers expect the stores in which they participate in loyalty programs to present them with more personalized shopping experiences than the stores where they do not participate in loyalty programs
Customers prefer to shop online, but would rather return the products to their local stores
The customers expect that the retailers where they shop create and provide them with personalized offers, based on their past purchases
The customers would make more purchases from the retailers who provide personalized shopping experiences across the entire channel (store, website, catalog, call center and so on)
The customers often use mobile telephones and websites to identify local events in which they are interested
Mobile and social
Customers expect to become able to shop online via their mobile applications, with the aid of a well constructed application
Source: Olenski, 2012
Integrated marketing communications is still a relatively novel concept, characterized by several advantages, but also complexities. Its application within the business community is subjected to various sensibilities and uncertainties, and it is up to each and every company to devise and implement the model that best responds to its specific characteristics (Hill and Jones, 2012). Nevertheless, the editors at MMC Learning suggest that the successful application of integrated marketing communications can be increased by the application of the following rules:
Ensuring the support of the executives and also ensuring that they are aware of the benefits of integrated marketing communications
Promoting integration at all managerial levels, including financial reporting, production and so on the creation of the design manual or the brand book which ensure the usage of the same standards
Developing and focusing on a clear marketing strategy
Starting fresh, with a minimum budget and a new communications plan
Putting the customers first
Building relations and brand value
Developing a solid system of marketing information through which the company is able to identify the nature of the information required, those who need the data and the time at which the data is needed
Employing several tools and media to create and promote the marketing efforts (MMC Learners).
Aside from the previously mentioned steps, it is of the utmost importance for the firms to remain continually alert to changes in the internal and external environments. Simply put, it is essential for them to be continually ready to implement change and to rethink and readjust their internal processes, including those linked to integrated marketing communications. Ultimately, the business agents have to engage in continuous learning and development (Sessa and London, 2006).
4.2. Integrated marketing communications at Swarovski
The sharp precision crystal products creator Swarovski, with the managerial changes of the past decade, is coming to focus more and more on the integration of its marketing efforts. One relevant example in this sense is represented by the company’s 2010 campaign “22 Ways to say black.”
In this campaign, the company invited world renowned designers such as Valentino, Ricardo Tisci or Gianfranco Ferre to reinvent the concept of the little black dress using the Swarovski crystals. The results were 22 glamorous dresses that captured the attention of the audience and managed to collect over $100,000 in just one evening. All the gains from the campaign were donated by the firm to the American Cancer Society and La Ligue Contre le Cancer in France.
This campaign, similar to other campaigns, was simultaneously presented on various media. The message was a single integrated one, transmitted in a clear manner, and in accordance with the recommendations of IMC implementation. The company used a combination of social media networks to promote its message and to ensure that it received throughout the entire globe and popularized during the time of the actual event. In other words, Swarovski simultaneously promoted its campaign on Twitter, where it has over 3,000 subscribers, on Swarovski Facebook, where it has over 565,000 followers and on Swarovski Elements Facebook account, where the company has over 18,000 followers (Swarovski Jewerly Blog, 2010).
Furthermore, the success of the campaign was also based on the integration of promotions with the inviting of reputable designers. Based on the Swarovski Jewelry source (2010):
“The company spent tremendous amount of effort and resources to be internationally present during the event. “22 ways to say black” campaign was posted on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Swarovski Elements website. It helped to invite high profile influencers and celebrities to participate.”
All in all, Swarovski’s usage of integrated marketing communications is observable in terms of the marketing campaigns it has completed and the means in which it constructed and promoted these campaigns. Still, aside from this, the company has developed and implemented an integrated management of its brand. Put another way, unlike experiential marketing and emotional branding, where the company has not taken a specific stand, in the case of integrated marketing communications, it has used these to create brand integration. This integration is observable in three specific directions, namely level, content and tasks. This integration is best observed throughout the table below.
– Who is Swarovski?
– What are the aspirations and purposes of Swarovski?
– What is the current and future business of the company?
– What does Swarovski offer?
– Vision and mission statement
– Business strategy
– Orientation on the needs of the customers
– How is Swarovski perceived?
– How does the company want to be perceived?
– How is the Swarovski behavior perceived at various touchpoints?
– Measurement and analysis of the company’s reputation
– Brand personality and essence
– Gap analysis
– How does the company strive to attain its envisioned perception?
– Brand architecture
– Involving the brand personality through its attributes and core values
– Guiding the company towards emerging brand and reputation
– Corporate design
– Corporate communications
– Corporate behavior
– the creation of a fitting visual style
– Defining specific messages for the stakeholders
– Developing consistent guidelines
– Communication concept
– Coherence question: “Who communicates with whom and how, where, about what and why?”
– the segmentation of the targeted groups
– the decision of centralization vs. decentralization
– Marketing and communications
– the employment of tools
Source: The Branding Institute, 2010
Overall, Swarovski focuses on creating strong internal messages about its identity, and then enforcing these messages at the level of the entire company. Emphasis is as such placed on ensuring that all of the organizational efforts, tasks and decisions are in full correspondence with the company’s values, and this goal is attained through integration.
At a more specific level, the identity values which sought to be integrated at the level of the entire company refer to the following:
The international power and presence of Swarovski, as well as its global prestige
The organizational mission to “provoke an elated epiphany in anyone experiencing one of our creations” (the Branding Institute, 2010)
The support and global promotion of the company’s four brands, namely Swarovski Optik, Swareflex, Tyrolit and Enlightened Swarovski Elements
The multifold business strategy focused on business-to-customer and business-to-business orientation, differentiation, cooperation and the creation of competitive advantages
The focus on raising awareness over the Swarovski brand through brand development, goodwill and cultural updates
The completion of the business operations with the aid of technology, innovation and aesthetics
The placement of the firm as a provider of luxurious and affordable products
The completion of all business operations with dedication to perfection, quality, durability and precision (the Branding Institute, 2010)
5. Chapter summary
Swarovski is one of most reputable brands in the fashion and luxury industry and a research project on the company would best start with the completion of a review of the literature in order to assess the primary and secondary information available on the firm. In the context of the studied topic, the literature review has focused on the theoretical and organizational dimensions of experiential marketing, emotional brand engagement and integrated marketing communications.
In terms of experiential marketing, the first step was represented by the creation of a theoretical framework for the comprehension of the concept. Various definitions were provided and these differed mostly in terminology and stand taken in the assessment of the concept. In essence, experiential marketing in a marketing effort aimed at increasing organizational profitability and its main traits include the usage of products and services to create customer value, the development of a powerful relationship with the customers, the emotional and rational response of the customers, the dramatic effect, the possibility of a live event or the creation of brand awareness.
Experiential marketing is a highly complex concept, with an increasing popularity within the modern day industry sector. While experiential marketing is well-liked and used across various industries, it finds specific applications within the industry of luxury products, where the organizations are forced to keep ahead of their customers’ demands and expectations and to continually create new and pleasant experiences that generate customer satisfaction and organizational profitability.
In the case of crystal products manufacturer Swarovki, the company has not taken a specific approach to experiential marketing in the meaning that it has specifically designed such a marketing strategy at an integrant level. Nevertheless, the research of the company’s strategies has revealed that the organization has selectively implemented experiential marketing to create positive customer experiences and to support its sales levels. The most eloquent example in this sense is represented by the company’s organization and participation in various events, which create positive experiences for the customers, as well as open up new business opportunities for the company. Additionally, the organization’s efforts in the sense of experiential marketing include the commitment to branding in the digitalized world or the usage of complementary tools, such as the social media, to enhance customer experiences and strengthen and inspire the brand.
Aside from experiential marketing, an important role in the marketing strategies of Swarovski is placed on emotional branding. Similar to experiential marketing, the company has not taken a distinctive approach to emotional branding, but an analysis of its strategies point out to their attention on emotional branding. Howbeit, before making this point, emphasis was placed on the theoretical dimension of emotional brand engagement. It was shown how emotions influence the purchase decisions more than the rational though process, and also the neuro-scientifical support for this role of emotions. The applicability of emotional brand engagement is often limited by the nature of the industry, company and products sold, and the best solutions to creating emotional responses to brands are still being devised.
In the specific case of Swarovki, the company’s strategies regarding emotional branding engagement are observable at three distinct levels. For once, the company started out with internal branding and it triggered the emotional engagement of the employees. Then, the organization created marketing campaigns and messages that appealed to the feelings and emotions of the customers. And last, Swarovski integrated multimedia in its relationships and communications with the customers.
The concept of integrated marketing communications is a relatively simplistic one and refers to the integration of a company’s marketing efforts in a unified programme, rather than their isolated completion. The application of IMC has evolved significantly throughout the past decade, from a point at which it was considered a utopia, to a point where it was considered a necessity, but without a framework for implementation, and finally, up to a point where precise solutions were made to increase the integration of marketing communications. The field is still evolving and the literary and practitioners’ communities have yet a long way to go in understanding the full dimensions of IMC and implementing them within the organizational setting.
At Swarovski, the focus on integration is more intense than that on experiential marketing or emotional brand engagement. The company as such uses marketing integration in terms of its campaign creation efforts, but also at a wider dimension, in terms of brand integration. Overall, Swarovski set out to integrate its entire levels, contents and tasks throughout the overall company. It as such ensures its corporate and brand strengthening by guaranteeing that all organizational tasks, decisions and operations conform one with each other and with the overall corporate mission, vision, values and identity.
In a nutshell, the current chapter has been focused on the assessment of the available sources in the literature in order to create a solid starting point in the future research project. Emphasis has fallen on both the theoretical dimensions of the three studied topics (experiential marketing, emotional branding and integrated marketing communications), as well as the means in which Swarovski has approached and implemented the three concepts. With the aid of this dual approach, the future research is supported through more knowledge creation, deeper understanding and the provision of a starting point.
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