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Customer experience is fast becoming a key driver in a company’s ability to differentiate itself from its competitors: In the competitive bottled water industry, what is Evian’s next step in order to stay ahead of its competitors and ensure brand loyalty is maintained? By Philippa Rivet





Chapter 1- Branded Customer Experience


Chapter 2- Concept Stores


• Methodology • The bottled water industry

• Branding the experience • Experiencing the brand • Experimental marketing

• Three different types of concept stores

Chapter 3- How brands create memorable experiences


Chapter 4- Starbucks case study


• Sensory marketing • Shopping psychology • Customer service • Clever advertising

Chapter 5- Evian

• Evian’s placement in the water industry • Evian and differentiation • Evian’s past and present pop-up stores

Conclusion Bibliography

12 17 21

Introduction ‘Remarkable experiences leave a mark—whether the experience is remarkably good, or remarkably bad. These memories are mind-share, essentially brand equity, the capital of brands’16. Niko Nyman


brand name used to be a simple way of identifying one particular product from another; this has very much changed over the last few decades. In recent times, brands have become more aspirational and visual signs of success. People associate brands with particular lifestyles. Individuals drive a BMW, wear Hollister jeans and shop at Waitrose to make a statement and portray an image. Brands create products and services aimed at particular consumers and their lifestyles. Consumers look for service experiences which reflect their lifestyle and say something about their aspirations. In today’s competitive world, brands need to work hard to make themselves known to their customers. It is no longer enough to advertise in magazines or promote yourself on social media websites; branded customer experiences are the next step in the modern day brand’s journey. Target audiences are becoming more difficult to reach as the way they use media changes constantly. It is extremely important for a brand to provide an experience which is positively memorable; something both parties feel they can gain something out of.


Every drop of Evian takes more than fifteen years to filter through mineral rich glacial sands in the pristine French Alps. Bottled at source in a state of the art facility, Evian comes from the Cachat Spring located on the Southern shore of Lake Geneva, in the town of Evian-les-Bains7 Evian Press Release. The bottled water industry is one which is constantly growing. Bottled water consumption per person advanced to nearly thirty-four litres in 2011, up from twentysix point nine litres in 2001. Zenith International estimates that long-term growth will continue, with bottled water consumption projected to reach almost forty-one litres per person by 20218 . Being part of an extremely competitive industry means it is Evian’s mission to stay at the top and maintain customer loyalty and, they can do so by creating and maintaining customer loyalty.

Figure 1. Estimated brand shares in the bottled water take-home market, 2011.

Figure one shows that Danone is dominant with leading brands Volvic and Evian being the frontrunners of the bottled water market.

Methodology Brand experience agencies are becoming an increasingly popular choice amongst brands. As part of this research, key people in relevant industries will be contacted. Their expertise and first-hand experiences with this rapid growth are the main reasons for contact and questioning. Focus groups will be used to gather information on past and future customer experiences, providing answers on what customers expect from certain brands. The brand behind this research, Evian, will also be contacted to find out more about their marketing strategy. Through this research, I aim to discover what the next step for Evian is; a highly regarded brand which has already achieved stable online presence, a worldwide reputation and a strong marketing strategy. The research aims to gain knowledge on how brands manage to continuously outperform their previous campaigns. The various platforms and methods used to keep their customers engaged will be considered.


The Bottled Water Industry Since 2011, brands have been producing environmentally-friendly packaging due to the ethical concerns that had been raised within the market9. Despite the negative press the bottled water industry has received, research on Mintel proves that it is a growing industry. The research also shows that the highest earners and Londoners are the core consumers of bottled water, Mintel Bottle Water UK May 2012. This proves that bottled water may be seen as a luxury to some. The major selling point of bottled water is the convenience9 with the majority of consumers drinking it outside of their homes.

Figure 2.Sales and forecast of the UK bottled water, by value, 2006-16


Chapter One Branded Customer Experience

A great brand experience begins where the script ends, because it’s not the brand’s story. Ex-

perience is the user’s story. The brand is only the stage manager. The most potent experiences are open-ended. They are worlds that people can explore at will, and that permit a multitude of outcomes. The outcomes belong to the user, not the brand. We call them memories’1. A branded customer experience is formed of two things: the need to complement people’s lifestyle and need to appeal to the customer’s aspirations. This results in a brand having two options when creating a branded customer experience: ‘Branding the experience’ or ‘Experiencing the brand’. Despite sounding similar, they are not. ‘Branded customer experience’ is a trend that was started by Disney. It was then adapted by various different industries. First Direct, Starbucks and Amazon all applied this service experience to their brands. All these companies have created a loyal customer base by delivering service experiences that create value for customers beyond the product or services the companies happen to sell2. Brand Channel There have been hundreds of brand experiences produced by brands and external companies, but they are different. According to Jack Morton’s ‘Best Brand Experiences Global Study’, the brands that will lead in the 21st century are going to be experience brands10. Their way of defining an experience brand is ‘a brand that invests in building and continuously improving how people experience and interact with them as a point of differentiation from competitors and a reason for consumers to become customers and advocates’10. Unique experiences are what give brands clear advantages over their competitors.

‘On a fundamental level, brands are verbs: what they do matters more than what they say’10. Global Study by Jack Morton


Branding the experience ‘Branding the Experience’ involves organisations setting out to create a new experience for target customers and then branding it accordingly. The starting point is the market and what it values3.The St-Martin’s Lane hotel in London has been branded in a way that only people who are looking for it find it; no visual signs. This does not, however, stop it from being fully booked every night. It offers a unique hotel experience that cannot be found anywhere else. The brand is entirely advertised through word-of-mouth, a technique which is said to influence 76% of consumers according to Blazingstar experimental agency6. On the other hand, a brand’s reputation can very quickly be destroyed by a negative customer experience and needs to be closely followed and monitored.

Figure4. St-Martin’s Lane hotel unbranded entrance

Experiencing the brand ‘Experiencing the brand begins with the brand and its values, turns, these into a promise for target customers and delivers the promise in a way which brings the brand alive’3. A brand which, without a doubt, constantly performs to the highest standards is Prêt A Manger, the fastest growing coffee and sandwich chain. Their slogan is ‘Passionate about food’ is reflected in the way customer service is carried out and the quality of the products sold.

Experimental marketing ‘Experiential marketing is the process of identifying and satisfying customer needs and aspirations profitably, engaging them through two way communications that bring brand personalities to life’4. It is important for brands to interact with their customers; simply talking at them does not help develop a longterm relationship. The aim of this type of marketing is to create brand loyalty and ,in turn, create brand advocates5.This is very important in an industry where the competition is fierce. ‘Experimental marketing brings a brand to life and gives it a true identity; once a consumer has engaged with the brand, he/she is left with a memorable understanding of its complex brand values’5. Live brand experiences such as ‘The T-Mobile Dance Experience’ provide an opportunity for customers to live, breathe and feel the brand5.


Chapter Two Concept Stores

Concept stores provide an experience rather than con-

venience. They provide a unique, one-off experience which cannot be found anywhere else. Concept stores are split into different categories: independent shopping spaces such as 10CorsoComo in Milan, temporary concept stores within larger establishment such as The Nike House of Innovation in Selfridges and branded concept stores such as the M&M stores in New York and more recently London. These all have different purposes, yet very similar motives. 10CorsoComo was established by a former fashion editor and has been structured into a living lifestyle magazine. It has been described as ‘the most beautiful shop in the world’ by some. Their mission statement is ‘A way to join culture and commerce, 10 Corso Como multifunctional philosophy allows to present a unique blend of art, music, design, cuisine and culture from around the world to the world’11 and is what defines them as a concept store. The ‘Nike House of Innovation’ was a pop up experimental retail space designed to mark the London 2012 Olympic Games. The store offered both digital and physical experiences alongside limited edition sports inspired lifestyle collections. By offering products with a highly anticipated demand, Nike are creating a hype for the experience and a commercial reason for people to visit. M&M World now open in five cities world-wide provide the visitors with a unique ‘retail-tainment’ experience and a feast for the senses 12. Each store is designed with its location in mind despite the products being the same. The recently inaugurated London store is home to an iconic 1963 doubledecker bus and a customised Union Jack M&M logo. Life size character’s greet the customers throughout the store. The ‘Wall Of Chocolate’ gives consumers the opportunity to pick, mix and blend their favourite M&M products together. Despite these three different types of concept stores all having the same aim of providing an experience, it is important to say that they all encourage self-promotion and the selling of their products.


Chapter Three

How brands create memorable experiences

D ifferent brands use various strategies to create memorable and positive experiences

for their customers. These include: sensory marketing, psychology of shopping, product placement, exceptional customer service, clever advertising campaigns and online experiences.

Sensory Marketing Sensory marketing is a method some people might think only beauty or food brands can use but over the years many different companies have captivated people’s attention through using different senses:’The more senses an experience engages, the more effective and memorable it can be’ 13 . Until only a few years ago vision was the most utilised sense when trying to sell and promote a product. Logos and colours were what people associated with a brand. For example Apple’s symbol and the famous Cadbury’s purple. Using a sense which a customer would not automatically associate with a brand is a clever way of ensuring a memorable experience. Singapore Airlines was one of the first companies to utilise sensory marketing successfully. A first class flight with the airline provides you with an all-round sensory experience. They are most well-known for their signature aroma which is worn by the impeccably dressed airhostesses and present in the hand towels provided after dinner. Their Singapore rice chicken tickles the traveller’s taste buds before they fall asleep to the feel of their feather comforter 14 (see Appendix 6). All this, alongside the visual imagery they are exposed to prior to their flight, gives the customer a multi-sensory experience which will encourage positive word-of-mouth.


Shopping Psychology All successful brands have carried out market research on the psychology of shopping. Many things are done purposely to increase customer expenditure, or catch a customer’s attention. The use of colour, music, layout and scent are all carefully selected to ensure greater customer expenditure. A prime example of this is placing the least expensive product on the bottom self in a supermarket. People will typically reach for a product at eyesight level; a product which will be sold at a higher price. Another tactic used by food shops is to place the most convenient products - such as bread and milk - at the back of the store to tempt the customer with other products. If the customer purchases these ‘other’ products, it would be considered an im-

pulse buy. Moreover, products placed near cashiers are used to incentivise customers into making last minute purchases. Brand loyalty is important in these scenarios – customers are drawn towards products which have previously satisfied a need. Product placement is another way brands create a loyal customer base . Brands purposely target certain celebrities to wear their products as they know that consumers tend to follow people they like. Psychologically this is explained by the fact that we emulate and agree with people we like and admire because it helps us build social bonds and trust (see Appendix 6). For example, by buying a Mulberry handbag, a customer might hope to feel and re-

semble Alexa Chung, a famous fashionista frequently spotted carrying a Mulberry handbag. The same can be done by placing products at events or in films. Evian sponsors many globally recognised events, Wimbledon being one of their main ones. By providing the annual sporting event with their products and branding the site itself, they can ensure worldwide viewing via television broadcast as well as by the spectators themselves. This advertising has shown to generate subsequent website traffic, whether it be on their official site, or on their Facebook and Twitter pages. Evian’s social networking pages allow their customers keep up to date with their events, competitions and upcoming launches.

Figure 7. Evian at Wimbledon screenshoot of webpage


Customer Service A negative experience with a brand will cause negative word-of-mouth and ultimately create brand resisters. This is why most major brands invest in serious employee training to help prevent these bad experiences from occuring. Certain brands are recognised for their consistent excellent customer service. Pret-a-Manger is one of these brands. Jay Chapman, head of Communications at the company, says ‘You can’t hire someone who can make sandwiches and teach them to be happy, so we hire happy people and teach them to make sandwiches’15.Employees at the company are quickly taught to make their own decisions and motivated with worth-while incentives. The key to excellent service is to empower the staff members and turn them into brand advocates. Providing positive experiences creates customer loyalty: ‘I think loyalty is a function of trust and trust comes with a succession of positive experiences’ (See Appendix 1.1). Within concept stores it is important to hire staff who are passionate about the product and are firm believer in the brand’s philosophy. They must have a decent knowledge about the brand’s history and all it stands for (set values and beliefs).


unique experience is very importantwhen decided what specific brands I use in the future’. 62% Strongly Agree 10 Global Study by Jack Morton

Advertising ‘Thirty six percent of youngsters believe good advertising has the power to cool a brand17’. There are so many ways brands can advertise; from multi-million pound advertising campaigns to free advertising on social media websites such as Facebook and Twittercompanies can adapt according to their budget. It is important to find the right balance to appeal to the largest and most relevant audience possible. Interactive billboards and clever television adverts are forms of advertising which allow for positive interaction with the brand. A successful video campaign can go viral and be exposed to millions of people within a matter of hours. T-Mobile might not have come up with the idea themselves first, but their flash mob Liverpool St Station video became a worldwide hit and set a trend for competitors. Although these advertisements may not directly increase sales; they provide a long chain of word-of-mouth and potential new brand advocates. Evian’s roller baby campaign has become the most viewed ad on the web ever according to the Guinness World Records18. The advert was released in the unconventional manner: online (via YouTube) before appearing on our big screens18. It was also voted one of the most effective adverts ever; preceding an increase in both sales and market share19.


Figure 9. The Evian Rollerbabies Campaign


Chapter Four Starbucks

Case Study

Like the water industry, the coffee industry is one which is highly competitive. Some may won-

der how Starbucks have managed to transform the commodity of coffee into a £3 splurge. Despite being one of the world’s most successful brands of all time, the brand is eagerly looking for new ways to expand and interact with their customers20. Howard Schultz, CEO, stresses that Starbucks isn’t about the coffee, ‘it’s about the experience’20. He refers to it as ‘the third place’ outside of home and work, somewhere people can go to relax, listen to music and read the papers20. Over the years it has had to adapt to the needs of their ‘Moderately upscale, moderately hip and youngish urban professionals’20 audience by providing wireless internet access (Wifi) in all of their stores. This has benefits for both the brand and the consumers; longer visits mean more drinks are purchased. The personal touches they add, such as writing customer’s names on the recognisable white cups, are things customers appreciate. Their signature winter drinks are always hugely awaited by the ‘Starbuckians’ who associate ‘gingerbread lattes’ with the arrival of Christmas. They are the number one brand on Facebook (thirty-three million), the most tweeted brand on twitter and have millions of engaged loyalty members31. What Starbucks has done really well is turn regular coffee drinkers, into loyal Starbucks coffee drinkers. Research shows (see Appendix 1) that people in the modern world say ‘Shall we get a Starbucks’ rather than ‘Shall we get a coffee’. This is similar to people referring to searching something on the internet as‘Googling information’. Starbucks the brand has become a noun just like Google the company has become a verb.

Figure 10. The Experience Economy


Chapter Five Evian

‘Evian did not have to

prove it was the best bottled water in the world- it was’ 30. Marc Gobe

Evian remains a leader in the

bottled water industry21 (see Appendix 3).Their key slogan and message is ‘Live Young’ and this comes across very strongly in their campaigns. It is a message conveyed for all age brackets. Water is a necessity for a healthy lifestyle whether you are a pregnant woman drinking for two, a young child on to go, an adult with an active lifestyle or a senior who doesn’t detect thirst so quickly22, drinking a minimum of 1l a day is a good habit to have. ‘In 1878, the French Medical Academy officially recognized Evian Natural Mineral Water’s favourable effects on human health23’. Many French mothers give Evian water to their babies because of the favourable health benefits it has (see Appendix 1). Market research on bottled water products and brand loyalty was carried out through a survey and focus group. Results concluded that Evian is a highly

regarded brand and participants had were happy to purchase Evian products on the basis of their previous and positive experience with the products. The following paragraphs highlight the most useful and relevant data. When asked ‘What factors do you consider important when selecting a bottle?’ over 80% of participants responded with ‘The brand’. Following this question participants were asked ‘assuming every bottled water was the same which one would you purchase and why?’ close to 50% responded ‘Evian’. Finally 80% of participants answered ‘Evian’ when asked ‘What water brand do you consider the most prestigious?’ (see Appendix 3). This proves that Evian products are affordable; yet, buying into the brand might suggest indulgence, as it portrays a luxurious image. Paying for a product which is available free at home was a concern discussed in one of the focus groups. It was apparent that the majority of the focus group bought water bottles for convenience and mainly when commuting (see Appendix 1.1). This was backed up further with the survey results; where 92% of people answered ‘Convenience’ when asked the main rea-


son for buying bottled water. Other products were used for explanation purposes. For instance, tap water was compared to supermarket petrol, whilst branded water was compared to buying your petrol from a petrol station, such as Esso, or Total – both were said to be somewhat equivalent to Evian (see Appendix 1.1). Indicating, once more, that consumers categorise Evian as an upmarket product in the water industry. Evian was established over a century ago. The source of their water was discovered in the 18th Century. Originally used as a remedy for curing kidney stones (see Appendix 7), it was not until the beginning of the 20th Century that Evian became a recognised commercial brand. Over the years, Evian has had to adapt to numerous environmental issues; reducing the weight of their bottles and utilising recycled plastic – in hope of reducing energy consumption (see Appendix 7) being two of them. Evian has already proved its ability to lead and bring innovation to the industry, whilst adapting to the ever-changing world of branding.

‘Perhaps one of the reasons Evian’s brand is so differentiated is due to their unique brand communication effort’24. In recent years, Evian has brought into the worldwide phenomenon of the ‘Roller Babies’ campaign. Shortly afterwards, Evian launched their “Let Baby Dance” campaign. This particular campaign is still on-going; it allows consumers to film themselves, before being placed over a virtual baby t-shirt24. The video can be found at: The video is adjustable – anyone with a camera or a webcam can participate. Moreover, the campaign’s video has become the longest video ever produced and currently stands at 10 hours 32 minutes and 32 seconds (last accessed: 14:44 03/01/2013). Any branded merchandise (along with the ringtone) in the video can be purchased, showing that Evian has the ability to sell products other than water. Campaigns are more and more being advertised via social media. Another way Evian differentiates itself from its competitors is by releasing Limited Edition bottles, on an annual basis24. These are usually collaborations with fashion designers; the most recent one being Diane Von Furstenberg, in 2012. By doing so, Evian targets the high end fashionable market.

Figure 11. Evian Designer Bottled 2008-2012


Elias Fayad - Evian’ zone director for the Middle East says :

‘Our water is untouched by man and perfected by nature, so we attempt to give the bottle an artistic expression’ 24.


Research conducted by Razorfish (2009) showed that ‘97% of people questioned said digital brand experience influences whether, or not, they make a purchase’ 31. Currently, Evian’s presence is mainly online. Therefore, it is important that Evian ensures their official website and social media pages appropriately reflect their philosophy (set of values and beliefs) and brand image. Just like their products, their online presence should ‘transcend the concept of purity as well as capture the imagination and loyalty of the health-minded youth generation’31. Evian absorbed this data and reciprocated by launching temporary “pop-up” stores (flat-pack store platforms) – persuading and pulling in new customers, as well as their current loyal target markets with interactive, user-friendly activities and experiences. Here are some examples: • Evian launched a temporary (3 week) “pop-up” spa launched during New York Fashion Week - allowing passers-by to receive unique water-based treatments25. • In January 2012, Londoners were subjected to a sensory pop-up Alpine chalet. This allowed them to understand the essence of Evian. The themed chalet included husky dogs, snow-melt cocktails and a range of alpine treats. Pre-booking was required to attend; controlling the possibility of overcrowding. This was completed via the official Evian Facebook page26.

Figure 13. Evian Alpine Experience, Southbank, London

• Singapore was the first city to host an Evian pop-up store. The store encompassed a game involving bottles labelled with the day of the week. Participants had the chance of winning prizes such “Let’s Baby Dance” t-shirts and fully paid trips to the Evian Spa in Tokyo, Japan27. • Los Angeles hosted an ‘Evian style’ workout with fitness expert Jackie Warner. Before the workout, Evian products were distributed with the fitness kit28. • In January 2013, London is launching ’31 Ways to Live Young’, Evian’s newest campaign. The campaign is a month-long. Commuters travelling across Canada Wharf and Finsbury Square will experience the artificial snowfall, generated from giant snow cannons29.



Conclusion To conclude, you may think that Evian have explored all different forms of marketing and customer

branding. They have managed to build a stable online presence, whilst continuously launching viral campaigns, as well as hosting events on a regular basis for their growing customer base. Competent management and clever brand development have allowed them to reach and remain at the top end of their industry. Evian’s main concern is their audience’s current and future expectations. What is required from Evian, to maintain their ongoing profitable venture? Evian know they need to keep ahead of their game. The research gathered in this paper could suggest, as their next step in their customer branding strategy, the need for a unique Evian concept store - an Alpine retreat. Evian’s customer base is more loyal and ready than ever before. 61.5% of people who were asked if they would visit a water themed concept stores answered ‘Yes’ (See Appendix 2). Further research should be carried out to establish visitor expectations – essentially the location of the retreat and it’s content. Evian have constantly demonstrated ingenuity and initiative; no other water brand has established a lasting concept store to date. Therefore, Evian could introduce this groundbreaking idea to the public, before their competitors. To ensure Evian is portrayed alongside its set of values, beliefs and organisational objectives, the data gathered in this research paper will be applied to the design of the retreat. Thorough brand analysis will facilitate the creation of a pure, clean and refreshing space.

Holding a Starbucks mug says something about you – a water bottle should, too. ‘The water brand you chose to drink became a statement about who you are’31. Evian have the passion and know-how to turn water buying and drinking bottled water from a rational need into an emotional experience.


The Retreat. Coming soon.




2 3 4 5 Shaz Smilanksky, Experiemental Marketing (2009), p.19 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 LIPPINCOTT leading design and brand strategy consultancy. 15 16 17 Joeri van den Bergh, How Cool brands stay hot:branding to generation Y (2011), p.75 18 19 20 Jonathan M. Tisch, Chocolates on the pillow aren’t enough, Reinventing the Customer Experience (2007) ,p.224 21 Mintel Report May 2012 Bottled Water Executive Summary 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 Experiencing the brand- Branding the experience, Shaun Smith Vice President of Forum, February 2001 31 Anne Hellman, Joel Desgrippes and Marc Gobe on the Emotional Brand Experience (2007) .120-121 32


Images & Graphs Figure 1. Water Figure 2. Mintel, Excutive Summary, Bottled Water May 2012 Figure 3. Mintel/based on SymphonyIRI Group InfoScan ,Bottled Water May 2012 Figure 4. St-Martins Lane Hotel Figure 5. (Page 6) 10 10 Corso Como Philippa Rivet own photo Figure 6. (Page 6) Nike House of Innoation Figure 7. (Page 6) M&M World Figure8. Wimbledon Figure 9. Starbucks Experience Figure 10. Roller Baby Campaign Figure 11. Designer water bottles Figure 12. (Page 14) Evian Moutains Figure 13. Evian Alpine Experience 305147759523091.62870.168421829862352&type=3&theater Figure 14 (Page 16) Keep Calm and Live Young 641&set=pb.168421829862352.-2207520000.1357560939&type=3&theater Figure 15 (Page 18) 349.29930.168421829862352&type=3&theater




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Project Research  

Customer experience is fast becoming a key driver in a company’s ability to differentiate itself from its competitors: In the competitive bo...