Where for most car sellers a test drive is nothing more than a drive around the block, Jaguar Land Rover offers customers and potential customers across the world a “personal learning and loyalty experience” in one of their Jaguar Land Rover Experience Centers. In Altuïtion’s fifth Virtual 9+ Experience World Tour (www.vxworldtour.com) John Lloyd, one of the program’s early architects, explained how this iconic brand has built its marketing plan around rich and memorable Guest experiences.
Lloyd, who introduced himself as an “experience marketing practitioner, not an academic,” first took the online audience with him to the early 1990s, when he was working as a marketing professional for the local Land Rover National Sales Company in Johannesburg, South Africa. There, the team took the first steps in developing what we now call a retail experience. Customers and potential customers were no longer to be seen as a “customer” but as a “Guest”, there to enjoy and be won over by a truly memorable experience with the product they were to drive. In Lloyd’s point of view, the sale should be the logical outcome of a fantastic Guest and product experience, without it being necessary to “push.” Part of this approach involved the design of a comfortable Guest Lounge, the monthly organization of a “braai” on Friday afternoons, and the construction of a “Dynamic Display Area”—“tracks” carefully laid out with obstacles where Guests could experience the Land Rover. driving qualities themselves. This approach proved extremely successful and planted the seeds of the next step.
Lloyd’s ideas on the power of a superior customer experience matured further when writing his MBA thesis (Warwick) and through reading Pine and Gilmore’s era-defining “The Experience Economy.” Lloyd then gradually detailed his thesis into a thorough brand experience document and was able to use this convince the Jaguar Land Rover directors that it would be useful to franchise a select number of off-road driving specialists and invest in 25-hectare, off-road tracks that could be used to enable “Guests” (specifically not “customers”!) to experience the unique driving qualities of the latest Land Rover products in an attractive, relaxed learning environment.
Main Role in the Performance
In his presentation, Lloyd then took the online audience deep into the methodology and operating standards behind the development of the Land Rover Experience platform and its gradual international roll-out. The starting points included connecting as far as possible with the knowledge and working methods of the franchised driving specialists (including responsibility for regional marketing), emphasizing knowledge sharing (but in a competitive setting), and ongoing data analysis. Illustrated by images from “safari-like” Guest trips through challenging terrains and impressive landscapes, it became apparent as the program matured that the emphasis was shifting more and more towards how involved and engaged the participants become. According to Lloyd, this is because it creates the highest-impact and memorable experiences. He compared this with a participative theatre performance: “The more we give our ‘Guests’ the main role in the production, the greater the impact and the more unforgettable the memories,” stated Lloyd. The decor and settings also play an important role in that performance, like the props and scene settings in any theatre production: The Land Rover Experience platform makes a conscious choice for unique places (including forests, castles and Formular One race circuits) to provide the experience with an additional emotional dimension.
After twenty years of pioneering, Lloyd retired in 2019. At that point, 65 experience operations were running internationally, with over a million people participating actively every year in the program developed by the Jaguar Land Rover Experience team. At the end of his presentation, Lloyd offered strong figures showing the program’s contribution to Jaguar Land Rover’s bottom line and business case, before closing with what he called the “gold spot” in customer communications: Small adjustments that provide people with a personalized experience that matches their individual needs—an experience they will literally never forget. If “the experience is the marketing” applies anywhere, it’s here. Or in Lloyd’s words: “Experiences are the most powerful physical expression of the Brand.”