Jay Leno's Acura NSX Demonstrates 4 Points of Great Experience Marketing

Acura's new NSX is one helluva hybrid supercar. It has a mid-mounted twin turbocharged V-6 that combines with 3 electric motors for a total of 573 horsepower. A 9-speed dual-clutch transmission and all wheel drive are two extra cherries on this banana split of glorious speed. And, to my eyes, it looks great.
So, just the car itself should be enough, right? After all, when Car and Driver magazine tested it, it made it from 0-60 in 3.1 seconds and ran a quarter mile in 11.1 seconds at 126 miles per hour. (Good bye, license?)
Well, they turned the experience up couple notches. 
With each NSX, they provide a couple of extras:
  1. a personalized video of the exact car purchased*
  2. A 1:18 scale model of the car perfectly matching the owner's new toy
So, you can look at it this way: spend $150k+ on a nice 1/18 scale model car and a personalized video, and you get a matching Acura NSX thrown in for free!
Seriously, this is great for the customer and for Acura. It checks 4 key boxes for great experience marketing
1. It's personalized.
Sure, it involves some splicing - all of the footage in the video isn't of the exact car purchased . . . but they personalize it with the production number at the beginning (Jay Leno's is #0003) and a shot of an NSX that looks exactly the same (colors and all appearance options matched) at the end. Not a bad way to add some extra pride of ownership.
2. It's unexpected
I can't say I've ever purchased a car with that came with a personalized video with my exact car as the star (consider the other cars used as stunt doubles) and a matching model car to sit on my desk to keep me psyched about my next drive through the twisties.
3. It involves all the major senses
The video has just the right sounds (nicely contrasting the snarly exhaust with the quiet of electric-only mode) with visuals of the car looking more stunning than I've seen it depicted elsewhere. Since you involve the sense of touch by holding the model , you get the full visual-auditory-kinesthetic experience.
4. It evokes strong positive emotions
Take a look at the video for Jay Leno's #0003 below.

Acura (aka Honda) was smart with this, as well as generous. They've gotten quite the splash of publicity helping the car elevate the brand just that much higher.

*the video shows the serial number of the car purchased as well as an NSX that looks exactly like it, given it has the same appearance options
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18 Statistics that Support Emphasizing Customer Experience in 2017

Customers are 5.2X more likely to purchase from companies with a great customer experience. (Kapost B2B Customer Experience Benchmark Report 2016)

One of the top 10 Gartner predictions: By 2017, 50% of consumer product investments will be redirected to customer experience innovations.

An Econsultancy Survey show B2C businesses ranking Customer Experience first (at 21%) when asked "What is the single most exciting opportunity for organizations?" B2B businesses ranked it second (also at 21%) after content marketing.

Companies that focused on maximizing satisfaction, with regard the entire customer journey, have the potential to increase customer satisfaction by 20%. McKenzie 2014

According to a RightNow Survey, 86% are willing to pay up to 25% more for a better customer experience. 

Gartner Survey found that by 2017, 89% of businesses will compete mainly on customer experience.

86% of senior-level marketers said it’s absolutely critical or very important to create a cohesive customer journey in the Salesforce 2015 B2B Survey.

Tempkin Group Study found from 2013 found 63% of companies expect to spend more on customer experience.

50% use a company more frequently after a positive customer experience. Source

According to Gartner, by 2017, 50% of consumer product investments will be redirected to customer experience innovations.

73% of companies with positive customer experience impact value the link between customer experience and business results. Source

59% of 25-34 year-olds share poor customer experiences online. Source

According to McKinsey, maximizing satisfaction with customer journeys has the potential not only to increase customer satisfaction by 20% but also to lift revenue by up to 15% while lowering the cost of serving customers by as much as 20%. 

According to ThinkJar, 70% of companies that deliver best-in-class customer experience use customer feedback, versus industry average of 50% and 29% for laggards

Harvard Business Review: Customers who encounter positive social customer care experiences are nearly 3 times more likely to recommend a brand. 

Online reviews have a strong influence on the buyer’s decision, with 90% saying reviews played a part in their decision. Source

Research by Kolsky found that 84% of organizations are now embracing the customer experience model.

2013 Deloitte Global Contact Center Survey found 62% of organizations view customer experience provided through contact centers as a competitive differentiator


The Gartner Survey summarized "It’s clear – more emphasis will be on the experiences a company delivers to create a competitive advantage."

In Loyalty360 Mercedes Benz USA President and CEO Steve Cannon said, “Customer experience is the new marketing.”

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Online Reviews, the Accidental Brand, and Experience Marketing

What is a brand? Why is it worth so much to companies to create? Are companies losing control over branding to online reviews? Or did they ever really have control?
Let's start with defining what a brand is. It is a state the marketplace associates with a company. A state is gestalt of internal images, sounds, and feelings. When branding works, that branded state adds value to the customer by saving time and thought with a decision shortcut .
Think of a city having traffic problems: for example, the clogged rush hour arteries in and out of the peninsula of my home city of Charleston. If the city traffic represents the thinking that goes into a purchase decision, a good brand is like a easy flowing but possibly expensive toll road that bypasses the congestion. The slow city traffic represents a carefully considered buying selection whereas branding zips the buyer right to a purchase decision.
The company pays that toll for the drivers with its branding efforts and its success determines how many driver-buyers take advantage of it.
How does the company pay the branding shortcut toll? Here are four ways:
  • Defining the Niche by occupying a particular section of the overall marketplace. This can be good or bad for a company. Once a niche is associated with a brand, it can be hard to move from there. Volkswagen's Phaeton Luxury car, built on the same platform as some Bentley and Audi luxury cars, sold poorly because the "people's car" segment didn't stretch that far up. Toyota invented the luxury Lexus brand to circumvent that issue, which it did very effectively.
  • Familiarity: Repetition can create trust. Repeatedly impressing a name and visual anchors like a logo on the marketplace means it has more weight and can becomes the obvious choice within its category. The Traditional Advertising Industrial Complex may be losing influence now but it helped achieve this for brands like Tide.
  • Confidence from a proven Track Record: Toyota has built a reputation for reliability and Apple for products that are user friendly. These associations create an attractive glow around their brands that illuminate new products so long as they continue to uphold the winning record.
  • State Transfer to a company or product: Advertising can evoke positive feelings from an unrelated source then associate it with a product or company. Inspiring music and celebrity appearances are two ways this can be done. Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train" in a Honda Pilot commercial (of all things, right?) is one example.
 And, in addition to this intentional branding, there is also accidental branding. After all, companies aren't totally in charge of their brands. The marketplace has the final say.

Intentional Versus Accidental Branding

When the marketplace disagrees with the intended brand and accidental branding takes over, that toll road leading to a purchase can be blocked with a "road closed" sign.

Here are three examples of accidental branding:
Negative online sentiment doesn't have to take such an extreme form as these train wrecks to impact a business, though. A steady stream of less-than-happy reviews or social media commentary can erode the edifice of what was intended to be a foundation built by a strong intentional brand.

And Then There are Online Reviews

Online reviews can circumvent the dynamics of branding altogether. A buyer can use online reviews as a helicopter ride straight to a decision instead of either the slow traffic of a considered purchase or the fast track toll road of a brand. 

The Wilmington Flowers
My aunt was recently in the hospital in Wilmington, NC for back surgery. My family here in Charleston wanted to send flowers, so Google to the rescue: I searched for "Wilmington NC Flowers". With a list of florists in the left column with their respective 1-5 star ratings underneath, picking one was easy: I picked the one with the most stars.
I took the online reviews helicopter. No brand effect toll road was necessary.
So a new decision shortcut threatens King Branding as the ruler of consumer choice: Online Reviews.
Need more convincing that online reviews drive decisions?
  • A 2013 study by Dimensional Research found that about 2/3 of the responders said they read online reviews:
  • 90% of them said positive reviews influenced buying decision.
  • 86% said negative reviews influenced buying decisions

The result of all this is that the exchange rate of branding currency is dropping. A brand intention doesn't mean much anymore unless it is congruent with the real experiences of customers who are now empowered by the web to share stories of their engagement with the company.
So there needs to be congruence between an intended brand and customer experience. How do you get this match between the intended brand and the stories customers share on the internet?

Aligning a Positive Online Reputation Strategy with Branding = Experience Marketing

To market effectively in the new economy , a business needs to create distinctive, positive customer experiences aligned with the intended brand. Online reviews clearly impact buying decisions and for many purchases are the primary way of sorting options. Social media gives customers a platform to tell their audience stories about a brand as well. Transparency is the rule now and we need to act accordingly.
A company is properly doing experience marketing when the customer journey is orchestrated for specific positive feelings through every interaction with the company, not just the experience of using the product or service. Experience Marketing is the strategy. Online Reputation Management is the effect. 
The experience is the brand. Every touch point with a company is a relevant part of the experience.
Here are some takeaways-
  • Instead of "reputation management" think "experience design".
  • Create great customer experiences to harvest authentic positive reviews. People smell contrived or fake reviews from a mile away.
  • If marketing is operating with a short term perspective, open it into a more strategic view.
  • The company's values and beliefs should support great customers experiences. If not, start there.
  • The culture should also encourage customers spreading the word as evangelists.
To summarize, with attention spans growing ever shorter in the age of distraction, decision shortcuts are of ever greater value to the consumer. Since the internet has made traditional branding less relevant, our job is now to create a great customer experience program and use digital media to enable sharing these experience far and wide.
How to more specifically do just that will be addressed in future posts. Get The Story Machine eBook for Free to subscribe to my occasional e-newsletter and get all the new posts!