03 May 2012 // Thoughts

The Value of Experiential Design: Differentiation and Cutting Through the Clutter

As we discussed in our previous posts, the value of experiential design can be purely economic, or it can also provide marketing, social, cultural or educational value. Let’s take a look at a few examples at how experiential design can aid in product differentiation and in cutting through the clutter of marketing messages.

Marketing Value: Differentiating from Competitors

Sometimes experiential design is used to simply differentiate an offering from the competitive landscape.

For those of you who might have been to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, you know that there seems to be a massive, high-end mall on each street corner. All of them are exquisitely designed with the best materials and feature all of the top luxury brands, from Gucci to Prada, Louis Vuitton and on and on.

The problem is, after a while, they all look the same, so what might make a millionaire Emirati choose one mall over the next?

The Mall of the Emirates chose experiential design as a way to differentiate itself from the competition. With the opening of Ski Dubai, a 225,000-square-foot indoor ski resort in November of 2005, not only could shoppers pick up the latest handbag, but they could also go for quick run on one of the resort’s five slopes, including the world’s first indoor black diamond. There’s also snowboarding, a toboggan run, a snowball shooting gallery and a place to make snowmen. And since Dubai is located in the desert, all winter clothing, ski and snowboard equipment is available to rent.

If you don’t want to venture in the cold, you can sit and relax in the adjacent lodge and sip a hot cocoa. However, if you want one of the prime window seats overlooking the resort, it’ll cost you, as there is a minimum purchase requirement.

Because of the popularity of Ski Dubai, while the Mall of the Emirates is pretty similar to all of the other malls in Dubai and features all of the same retail stores, it has now become one of Dubai’s premiere shopping destinations.

Marketing Value: Cutting Through the Clutter

It is estimated that consumers are bombarded by over 5,000 marketing messages everyday – from television ads, ads on the radio, billboards, internet pop-ups, mailers and so on. To say it is a crowded and cluttered environment is an understatement.

More and more corporations have found that experiential design allows them to cut through that clutter and customers in a memorable way.

How many of you have played Angry Birds?

For those of you who haven’t, it’s an extremely popular video game in which you launch a variety of birds from a slingshot and try to knock down evil pigs hiding within various structures. It’s become a worldwide phenomenon, as it’s so addictive, and you can’t get the theme song out of your head.

Well T-Mobile, had kind of a similar idea last year in Barcelona, where they created an innovative event to promote their various smart phones.  Have a look.

Innovative. Surprising. Interactive. Story-based. Unique environment. Multi-sensory. All of the components of experiential design.

They not only provided passersby with a great time, but they also provided T-Mobile with off-the-charts PR value around Europe and throughout the world through YouTube (with over 12 million views).

We hope you’ve enjoyed this look at how experiential design can help you set your product above the rest and cut through the jungle of marketing messages.  Next week, we’ll discuss how one of the world’s leading auto producers used experiential design to position itself not just as a car maker, but as a company that has enjoyed a fascinating history and a profound impact on world culture.