Blending art into marketing
In saturated markets with slight variations in price and performance, aesthetics is the deal maker for many consumers. Corporate marketing, of course, has taken note and are increasingly turning to the art world for guidance on shapes, colors, texture and other arresting visual features. Art sources not only include traditional forms like painting, sculpture, music and architecture, but also commercial pop art and other modern deviations.
From a marketing perspective, art possesses three inherent properties - aura, resonance and exhilaration. Aura is the inimitable, unique value of a piece of art. Resonance refers to the inspiration and creative desire that is aroused when looking at art. And exhilaration alludes to the emotional appreciation for aesthetics and humanity that is gained through art.
Product design naturally is one of the principle ways where art and marketing can converge. To enhance a brand image, famous artists are being enlisted. For example, French fashion house Louis Vuitton works with world renowned artists like graffiti artist Stephen Sprouse and contemporary Japanese artist Takashi Murakami.
Through such endeavors, Louis Vuitton lures back shoppers and added a twist to its monogram, lowering its target age-group and creating a new brand value. Even everyday items are getting the art treatment. American pop artist Jeff Koons is active in designing home appliances, cosmetics, kitchenware and even the background image of internet browsers.
Retailers also are consulting well-known architects create a symbolic location that incorporates art to create not only a place to purchase goods but also where consumers can experience artistic beauty. Prada’s Epicenter stores in Tokyo, New York and Los Angeles are radical departures in fashion-store architecture to accommodate a marriage of haute couture consumption and culture. Customers are able to enjoy not only shopping but also concerts, films and art pieces as the stores have both a stage and seating. Having been hailed as sensationally art-infused stores, they have become a must-see for tourists.
Shoppers with an exceptionally excellent eye for aesthetics and creativity, so-called “artsumers” (art and consumer) are being targeted especially. The attributes of these consumers can be utilized when developing a product or designing a tailor-made product. In order to fully reflect its consumer wishes, Italian auto company Fiat reviewed over a staggering 25,000 consumer ideas to launch its “Fiat Cinquencento.”
Meanwhile, Heineken has even branched into interactive art to build brand relationships with consumers. The beer maker’s online “Green Room Session” allows users to remix their favorite songs and share the music track with friends.
The fourth way to incorporate art is to stimulate employees’ creativity and innovation outside their normal work routines. In order to enhance the organization’s creativity through art, Pixar Animation Studios established the Pixar University, an internal training program in which all employees from programmer to chef can take. They also have the liberty of choosing from 110 classes in the program, including painting, sculpture and acting, which enables them to gain creative inspiration and learn new ways to communicate with their cohorts.
Finally, in terms of reputation marketing, through sincere and heartfelt donations to the arts, companies can boost their image. Companies should provide artists the opportunities to demonstrate their artistic creativity, which will add cultural dignity to the companies’ value, and establish a reciprocal relationship between the two groups.
It is difficult to quantify the effects of art in marketing in a short period of time, but anecdotal evidence and customer reviews as well as sales figures will eventually provide enough clues. Being a true disciple of the power of art in the business environment will require long-term, consistent commitment by Korean companies. As they try to blend in art, they should strive to imprint Korea’s unique identity into designs similar to the way Korean fashion designers are carving out a distinct look that reflects aspects of Korea. For this, external and internal strategies could be employed. Artists could be consulted for advice on developing a differentiated look from the rest of the world. Meanwhile, to think outside of the box a little, people with knowledge of the arts could be recruited and given an opportunity to rise to managerial positions to take advantage of their creativity and add greater diversity in executive ranks.
* The author is a research fellow at Samsung Economic Research Institute.
by Seo Min-soo