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Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The influence of branding on event design and decorations in product launch events: research based on MAC Cosmetics



Abstract
One of the integral parts of the marketing process is the product launch event. These events are designed and executed with an aim to create memorable experiences among the attending participants with an aim to create a relationship between them and the brand. Given that such events focus on creating a relationship between the target customers and the brand, branding becomes an integral part of the product launch events. It is therefore expected to play a role in the design and choice of decoration in the product launch events. This paper aims to establish how important branding is in ensuring the effectiveness of the product launch events by having an influence on the product launch event design and the choice of decorations in such events. The study then provides an in-depth analysis of the importance of branding and the likely influence it has on product launch events. It further provides an insight on product launch events, the importance of selecting the right event design and the importance of using decorations that create a lasting impact. The research combine primary and secondary research where primary research involves the use of questionnaires which have been administered on players in the product launch events industry as well as the persons who have attended such events. The findings of the research indicate that branding does contribute to the effectiveness of product launch events. This is especially so where branding is accurately matched to the event designs with decorations emphasising on a theme that channels all the attention to the brand. The discussions of the research and the findings thereof are as outlined in the subsequent sections of this research. 


This chapter introduces product launch events and outlines the main elements of the same as well as the requirements that need to be met to ensure that product launch events create the desired impact among the audience and the target market. The concept of branding has also been briefly outlined. The effect of branding on the marketing process and corporate events has also been briefly focused on.  The chapter also introduces the research statement which is provides a glimpse into what the paper intends to examine and report on.

Events that launch products are a marketing strategy with many potential benefits. Companies today are making use of choreographed product launches to build the reputation of the base line of the company and the company itself. In order to have a successful product launch care is given to the details of the development and planning process. Allen et al., (2008) points out that the main factor that is considered when launching a product is winning of the audience’s attention. In order for this launch to be successful, marketer’s advice that the use of effective marketing tools that provide a good strategy in the design to be used.

According to Getz, (2007), one of the modern-day challenges for product launch events is the ability for a business to attract people to actually attend the events. The increasingly busy population in most markets may not easily be convinced to attend an event unless there is some big news or some sought of a draw from which they hope to cash in on. This can also be done by offering event discounts for the people who will attend the event. Discounts are known to motivate attendance from persons who may wish to make certain savings depending on the amount of discounts offered (Getz, 2007). The attendance may also be boosted by inviting key personalities in the society to give speeches during such events.

Research to determine the kind of persons adored by the target audience needs to be done with accuracy in order to ensure that attendance is inspired as intended. The product launch event also needs to be well advertised with the promise to create a memorable experience for the persons that attend it (Klein, 2000). As opposed to merely offering information about the product, the launch event should necessitate the actual use of the product where their benefits can be demonstrated and experienced by those attending the event. This is as opposed to advertisement where information on the qualities and functionality of the products is merely provided. As a general rule, the market views advertisements as statement that often contain certain exaggerations and would only trust their own experiences in relation to the benefits associated with the products (Kotler, 2003).

The choice of location for the product launch event is also crucial. As Goldblatt (2005) observes, the event needs to be in proximity to the target audience who would then easily access the launch cite and therefore be in attendance as intended. The choice of location also needs to reflect on the product. For instance, a product aimed for sale to a high class society must be launch in a high class location in order to avoid sending the wrong messages. Product events only last for a short time- in most cases, for just a day. However, the need for building the sales momentum does not last for a similarly short time.

Organisations must of necessity come up with adequate follow up strategies in order to realise the maximum benefits realisable from a launch event.  The launch event must be accompanied by prolonged marketing campaigns in order to generate the desired results from a launch event (Kotler, 2003). The traditional definition of a product launch event is the holding of ceremonies accompanied by press conferences that basically formalise the event. However, this definition is being challenged by innovating ideas in the market where the definition of a product launch event can be extended to apply to flash mobs, cyber events, street teams and so on (Jacobson, 2006).

Some of the most effective strategies in marketing that can give product launch success are the identification of the four Ps in marketing (Kotler, 2003). These are product, pricing, place and promotion. Selling the product entails having a good description of the product being launched, for this reason; the marketer of the event must have details of the product. This means the usefulness, colour, and any fact about the product. Pricing must also be considered; this is because prices of products often give competition to other similar products in the market. When launching the product, the price must attract customers and therefore give the product a competitive advantage.

Place entails the location where to best market and sell the product and therefore reach a majority of the customers (Kotler, 2003). Location will determine the best place to launch a product in order to gain most of the clients. Promotion is the marketing style that will be used in order to attract many clients and for that reason a successful launch. Therefore in order for the product launch event to be successful, these four factors must be taken into consideration.

Fundamentally, in order to have a good product launch, the event marketer must take into consideration the best design for the event. Berridge (2007) defined event design as the set of fields used for problem solving which use the user-centric properties to understand the needs of users. This is done to provide the user with solutions that will solve their problems. Design is used as a means to provide the users with change in the system or market. For this reason, design of events is the provision of solutions that clients can use to solve problems. From that view, this study draws the conclusion that when design is used in events, it is meant to give the solution to problems that are being solved by the event.

In the process of trying to solve problems, the event designer is trying to create the desired perception, behaviour and cognitive responses in the consumer (Bowdin et al., 2006). The reason being when it comes to event marketing, the designer realizes that it is important that the event creates a feeling of satisfaction in the clients. In the process, they apply perception psychological approaches to attract the clients (Getz, 2007). This is done by giving events an aesthetic value, where the eyes play the central role in marketing the products and services. For this reason product launch events must have an aesthetic value to the client.

According to Berridge (2007), the event design to be arrived at in a product launch event is supposed to be a reflection of research conducted on the target audience to determine which kind of events would satisfy them the most. This is due to the fact that events are expected to produce valuable and memorable experiences among the persons attending any events. This event design refers to the nature of activities to be undertaken during the events as well as the duration of such activities. For instance, Zeo, which had invented a sleep monitoring machine that would gather data from brain waves of people while they slept, opted to have a launch event that required the attendees to spend the night at the product launch event where the functionality and benefits of the machine could be explicitly demonstrated (Ramsborg, et al, 2008). Similarly, launch events for beauty products often include experiential sessions where those in the audience that may wish to have a first hand experience of the product are given the opportunity where they are exposed to sophisticated treatment by the company’s employees (Ramsborg, et al, 2008).

The determination of the nature of presentation and the choice of who to make the presentation is equally crucial to determine the extent to which the audience believes the information offered (Ramsborg, et al, 2008). One of the most effective approaches taken by organisations involves the use of customers who have already tested the product and have been satisfied by it. They are allowed an opportunity to recount their experiences while the company employees involved demonstrate on the functionality of such products. This enhances the effectiveness of the product launch events. The presentation styles also need to reflect on both the product and the level of understanding of the audience in question (Ramsborg, et al, 2008). The presenters need to have a thorough knowledge of the communication styles that are most effective in relaying meaning to the target audience. Where the wrong choice of communication is adopted, the product launch event is as good as failed. Moreover, the nature of the product must also be considered in designing the communication styles to be adopted. For instance, the communication adopted for launching a face cream would be definitely different from that used for launching computer software.
Similarly, event design refers to the choice of venue and sequence of events during the launch including the choice of whether or not to provide food and refreshments (Goldblatt, 2002). Given that the launch event is aimed at creating valuable and memorable experiences on the target customers, the aspects of human comfort that may not necessarily have anything to do with the product must also be considered. As Jacobson (2006) observes, trivial details such as the provision of enough sitting space could potentially lead to the failure of a well designed event. The audience that attend such an event and are forced to be on their feet till they are exhausted may not be able to fully appreciate the information being presented. The event should also be accompanied by the provision of reference materials detailing the functionality of the products that the audience can later refer to at their own convenience (Bowdin et al, 2006). This should be provided together with the contact information that the target customers would need whenever they need to any clarifications.

The elements of event design that include the choice of decoration are as outlined in the section below.   

When it comes to event creation, the designer is aware that there must be creativity in the design of the event. This means that for events to be successful the designer must come up with new ideas and concepts (Goldblatt, 2005). Such ideas and concepts are reflected in the theme of the event, look, design, decorations and the items at the event. In the process the designer will end up with a generic design, where location, site characteristics, social cultural aspects, amenities, programme, services, security and control will attract the customer (Goldblatt, 2005).

Therefore when applied to product launch, creativity of the products will translate to the initial success of the product in the market. In order to create something that will leave a lasting impression on the client, the product launch event must have an eye catching occasion (Goliath, 2006). In this, the event manager must make sure the overall process brings together the various creative disciplines of decorations and design. They must understand the experiences of design and decoration to the client, the finishing touches must be good, creative techniques should be used (Malouf, 1999). The decorations must take into consideration backdrops and props design, colours, lines, balance and flow, the centre piece and focal points of interest and the general d├ęcor of the event (Kaputa, 2008). All these aspects must be in sync for the event to attract the customer’s attention. 

Decorations can be effectively used to create the emotional backing that the events need. Colours have been acknowledged as effective instruments of mood creation and the event designers must be alive to the need to ensure that the event must of necessity be lively in order to engrave memorable experiences in the audience’s minds (Sherman, 2011). The level of interest developed among the audience is often a product of the creativity of the decorations used in the event. These decorations need to present a level of uniqueness that can only be associated with it and not a mere reflection of previous events that the audience may have had the opportunity to attend (Sherman, 2011). This is where creativity plays a role in ensuring that the products launch event remains memorable.

The decorations must however not be haphazard: they must reflect on the theme of the event and the products being launched. This focus on the theme and product must however be creatively done to avoid creating a monotonous tone that may cause the audience to get bored and therefore erode the gains made through effective designing of the other elements of the launch event.

Branding is increasingly being used for the creative design and decoration of the product launch events (Kaputa, 2008). Event marketers have come to realize the importance of branding events in order to make them creative, unique and successful. It is seen as the means to which the product and the company are recognized by the customer.

Marketers use branding since it offers the markers that clients associate companies and what they offer (Kolb, 2006). The realization is that brands give the customer a simple choice, offer quality, develop trust and reduce risks. Brand marketing builds on the company, product, use by customers and the marketing event. Therefore branding reflects the whole marketing experience. Branding an event and product entails the creation of a direction to which the activities and programs will follow. In the process, the marketer creates a single theme for the event and product that will be used to associate the product and company. According to Malouf, (1999) this central theme is created with the help of color themes, shapes, slogans, taglines, logo, trademark, exclusive element and celebrity touch. This is because everything in the event has a meaning, therefore designs and decorations used end up with a central theme.

In order to fully understand the effects branding have on the design and decorations used in product launching events, a research will be conducted. This is because this paper realizes that branding is increasingly being used in product launches. Since events main purpose is to capture the customers attention through the creation of an aesthetic aspect, this research shall look at the effects branding have on the aesthetic factor. Taking this into consideration, it has been noted that aesthetic quality has been achieved over the years through event design and decorations. Hence the effects of this branding on the product launch event design and decorations will be the main concern of the paper.

The main objective of this research is the identification of the effects and influences branding has on the decorations and design used in product launch events with a focus on drawing insights from the experiences of MAC Cosmetics. The paper also creates understanding of the concept of branding and tries to justify why branding may be necessary in ensuring the effectiveness of product launch events. The paper then explores the theories of event design and decorations in order to establish to what extent branding can influence the choice of the same. The specific objectives of this research are to analyze;
·         the importance of branding to product launch events especially when it relates to beauty products,
·         what aspects of the brand (product tangible and product intangible) are most useful to launch events of cosmetic and beauty products
·         the effects branding has on the decorations and design of product launch events as experienced at MAC Cosmetics events,
·         the effects of the branded decorations and design on the product launch events,
·         Effects of the branded product launch events on the customers
·         The use of marketing theories, to analyze the overall branding of product launches events.


This chapter highlights the importance of product launch events as well as their significance as part of the marketing process. It also explains the concept of branding and how branding adds value to the launch events. This concludes by highlighting some of the experiences of MAC cosmetics in the product launch events.

Product launch events are an integral part of the marketing processes in the organisations. According to Monroe and Kates (2005), product launch events provide organisations with a unique opportunity to boost their brands and give their products a good start in the markets. Properly planned and executed product launch events make an accurate reflection of the brand image and contribute significantly towards brand awareness among the target customers (Raj, Walters and Rashid, 2008). The hype surrounding the events helps create memorable experiences that create a greater impression in customers’ minds than any other marketing campaigns (Shone and Parry, 2001). This is more evident where the events are designed in a manner that maximises the exposure that the attendees have to the benefits offered by the products. The promise of a successful launch event is therefore worth the resources invested in them (Shone and Parry, 2001). However, the events are equally risky. The campaigns surrounding such events draw attention of the consumers to them, and this makes any mistakes significantly visible (Raj, Walters and Rashid, 2008). Any miscalculation in terms of brand image projection, or a reflection of a poorly organised event is likely to negatively affect the organisations and their products over prolonged lengths of time and it may therefore lead to poor product performance in the markets (Raj, Walters and Rashid, 2008). The cost of erasing the negative perceptions from the target customers may be enormous, and often beyond the capacity of most organisations (Monroe and Kates, 2005). Product launch events must therefore be organised with tact and precision in order to ensure their value is realised.

As Silvers (2003) records, product launch events and branding are an integral part of the marketing process. Marketing basically have to do with the process of getting target consumers to demand for the products in question (Kotler, 2009). Marketing can broadly defined as the process of determining which products can be of interest to consumers and the strategy to use to not only generate demand for the products, but also to ensure that such products can be accessed by the target consumers with relative ease (Kotler, 2009). It therefore relates the value building for both customers and the organizations. Some of the main elements to be considered in the marketing process include product, place, promotion and price (Stanton, 1981). The element of product refers to the tangible and intangible goods that are to be offered to their customers. The products are typically created in response to certain customer needs (Schmitt, 2003). Mastery of the features of products on offer and the utility they are expected to give to the target consumers is integral to the marketing process (Schmitt, 2003). Place refers to the physical location of the products and is often synonymous with the distribution channels used by an organization. Pricing outlines the pricing strategy embraced by organizations (Schmitt, 2003). An organization may either choose to price their products higher in apparent reference to the superior quality of their products; or they may choose to price in the same range as their competitors (either slightly lower or at the same price levels) (Pike, 2008). Promotion on the other hand refers to the communications made to stimulate demand for the products. The promotion mix involves personal selling, advertising, public relations, and sales promotions (Pike, 2008).

Knowledge of the various elements of the marketing mix is useful in shaping the design of product launch events (Goldblatt, 2005). Strategic marketing theories demand that the organisations take consideration of a number of factors. To start with, the organisations must gather information in order to establish the prevailing needs in the market (Kotler, 2003). This gathered information is useful in ascertaining what marketing approaches would be most effective. Secondly, consideration of the aim of the marketing exercise should be made (Kotler, 2003). In the case of product launch events, the objective of the marketing exercise would be to ensure good attendance of the event especially by the target customers (Goldblatt, 2005). The targeting of customers must be strategic and different approaches taken to reach out to them. The same applies to the choice of marketing media used to publicise the events. These must take into consideration their level of effectiveness among the target customers. For instance, some of the MAC cosmetics events that targeted the young consumers made use of the social media and was largely successful (Jaykwaywes, 2011). The choice of message when promoting the events must also be strategic and able to inspire those encountering the message to attend the events. It must make a promise that is strong enough to create some level of curiosity. The events must however be designed to meet the created levels of expectations to avoid turning them into items of negative publicity for the organisations (Goldblatt, 2005). Focus on the customers as well as the brand image to be projected is crucial for the success of such events. Considerations of ‘place’ allows event organizers to take due consideration to the ability of the target customers to access the launch venue with relative ease (Tum, Norton and Nevan Wright, 2005). The choice of venue should also widely reflect on the preferences of the target customers and this necessitates the conduct of an intensive marketing research. Pricing is often used to attract customers to product launch events (Goldblatt, 2002). The prices in such events may be priced lower in order to provide the motivation for customers to attend such events. As Berridge (2007) observes, consideration of the promotion mix gives product launch event organizers the opportunity to consider the promotion tools that would best suit the event. The use of advertising can be done to promote awareness of the launch events in order to get customers to meet the event (Berridge, 2007). The event organizers could then make provisions for personal selling in order to get the attendees to purchase the products while demonstrating the product use and their benefits (Van der Wagen, 2006). Product refers to the tangible and intangible goods on offer. The features of the products and the benefits expected to be passed on to customers must be highlighted to prompt customers to use them ((Pike, 2008)). Knowledge of the product life cycle is also crucial in designing such events. As Allen (2010) observes, most product launch events are conducted at the market introduction stage of the product life cycle. At this stage, consumers have to be prompted to consume the products. The launch events should therefore be designed in a manner that emphasizes the functionality of the products (Monroe and Kates, 2005). According to Yeoman, et al(2003) these events may also be conducted after the introduction of the products where products may be launched after undergoing a re-designing process where the new features should be highlighted effectively in order to get customers to consume the products.  

Branding has variously been described in by many scholars as the identity of a given organisation or a product (Gregory, 2003). It’s the medium through which a product or an organisation can be identified. It could take the form of symbol, sign, name, or slogan and describes how the product or organisation in question relates to its target customers (Gregory, 2003). The brand experience may therefore be described as the experiential function resulting from all points of contact with the brand in question (Gregory, 2003). This brand experience leads to the generation of the brand image which is psychological and includes the mental constructions of the brand based on the information gathered about the brand and the expectations that the market has on it. According to Kotler (2006), organisations therefore strive to align the market’s expectations with the brand experience in order to highlight the unique qualities of its products and therefore build the desired brand image. A brand is therefore the most central part of any marketing event including product launch events.

 A brand image differs from the brand identity in the sense that whereas the image refers to the perception of the consumers towards the brand, the brand identity refers to the producers perception of the benefits, qualities and values that they wish to portray while marketing their products (Olins, 2004). It refers to how a producer would wish their goods to be perceived and therefore influences the choice of brand names and symbols as well as the communication styles to be adopted while marketing the brand (Fan, 2002). This is of high relevance when it comes to marketing events such as new product launch events that organisations undertake from time to time.

A successful brand management process often results in the alignment of the brand image and the brand identity (Schmidt and Ludlow, 2002). Organisations need to conduct constant enquiries in the market to ascertain the success of their brand management exercise with a view to making requisite corrective measures whenever need arises. Before a brand can be well established in any organisation, the internal processes and the human resources need to be aligned to it in a process known as brand orientation (Fan, 2002). This process is part of the brand management process which refers to the process of creating and maintaining a brand.

The brand management process should always result in the offering of products and services that are relevant to the target market. As Holt (2004) observes, the brand management process is always aimed at pushing the brand to a point of brand recognition. This is the point at which the brand becomes widely known in the market. However, marketers rarely stop at the brand recognition point and continue their campaign to the point at which the brand enjoys overwhelming positive sentiments in a given market (Klein, 2000). This is the point at which the brand achieves brand franchise. According to recent research, brand owners strive at creating a positive brand image due to the fact that consumers tend to prefer purchasing products whose prices have been adjusted to accommodate a brand premium (Birkin, 1994). This means that where similar products are priced slightly differently with the branded ones being a little more expensive, an average consumer would purchase the branded one despite the price differentials.

A brand should be memorable and consumers should be able to recognise it at any point and in different situations. This is called brand awareness. Where brand awareness exists, customers are able to associate brands with the products that the brand is related to and the recognition of their needs that are supposed to be satisfied through the brand in question (Neumeier, 2004). Studies indicate that over 95% of the purchases made are done on the basis of brand awareness (Miller, 2004). This implies that consumers only consider products whose brands they are aware of. A brand must also be clear on what it stands for in relation to the characteristics and value it wishes to offer to its customers: it should have a clear brand promise. For instance, a brand could stand for quality, trust, performance, or even unreliability. It is also possible for individual products under a larger parent brand to offer distinct brand promises. For instance, a cosmetic organisation that mainly stands for quality could have a product under it whose brand promise is a smoother skin or strong smooth hair (Van der Wagen, 2002). 

Organisations that operate on a global scale also have the option of creating global brands which reflect the same values and qualities across national and regional boundaries (Fan, 2002). Brands such as MAC Cosmetics, Coca Cola, Nike, Face-book, Apple and Toyota are good examples of this. This enables such brands to gain worldwide recognition with relative ease and in a manner that allows them the economies of scale as far as brand management is concerned. It also enables organisations to tap into the increasing growth of globalisation on an international scale where expansion is easier for organisations that have already created a global brand (Dowling, 1994; Barich and Kotler, 1991). However, caution must be taken to ensure that the global brands factor in cultural differences in modifying their brands to suit the cultural contexts of the different countries. Aspects such as the language of use, style of communication and statutory requirements must be looked into if a global brand is to remain successful on a global scale (Fan, 2002). Brands can also be local where the products are mainly distributed on a relatively small and restricted geographical area.

Ambient brands on the other hand take advantage of social needs and values to promote the sale of its products (Fan, 2002). This may be through participation in social events and social movements whose slogans are then adopted to be representative of the products in question. These brands more often than not originate from the consumers who, in recognition of the alignment of the corporations to their needs, brand their products as such and opt to prioritise them over other products when making purchase decisions (Goliath, 2006). Brand names come in different styles as outlined below: they can either be acronyms such as IBM; descriptive where the names describe the benefit of the products such as Airbus; Alliteration and rhymes where words that easily stick in people’s minds due to the fun in mentioning them such as Dunkin’s Donuts; Geographical brand names; personification brand names which are coined from mythical characters such as Nike; Use of the founder’s names as is the case with Disney; use of foreign words; evocative names that create clear relevant images such as Amazon; and Neologisms which are brand names that are creatively coined from nothing such as Kodak (Aggrawal, 1996).

The use of multi-brands is also quite effective when used creatively in a market. This entails the running of several brands that have deliberately been set up to compete against each other in the market. The end result is that each of the competing brands gains on its own market share and therefore pre-empts the risk of entry by other organisations hence stabilising the parent company’s hold of the market (Aggrawal, 1996). In the US, Proctor & Gamble run at least 10 detergent brands. Similar approach is taken by the giant soft drink company, Coca Cola which runs various competing soft drink brands that effectively compete against each other to guarantee Coca Cola the largest market share globally (Aggrawal, 1996). MAC Cosmetics also offers several brands of beauty products across more than 10 countries where some of the brands are seen as competing with each other to grow the overall market share of the corporation (MAC Cosmetics, 2010).

The importance of branding to businesses is beyond question as per the view of most business researchers. This is due to the direct relationship between branding and the customer experience. According to Goliath (2006), branding does affect the experiences of the customer with the product and the company. He asserts that these experiences occur in five different types. The first experience the customer will have is the sense experience, where brand affects their sensory perception. This is followed by the experience associated with affect and emotions, creative and cognition, behavior and lifestyles and the last relate to experiences (Goliath, 2006; Berridge, 2007). Therefore branding has an overall effect on the customer’s senses, emotions, cognition, behavior and relations. It is for these reasons that marketers use branding to manipulate the perception of the customer of the product.

Branding is also used to build the corporate image, reputation and products. This has been studied intensively by (Dowling, 1994; Barich & Kotler, 1991). In these reviews branding has been seen to evoke associations of products and their attributes by the customer. The customer will always associate the branded product with benefits, companies, people, values and programmes. Other studies by Keller and Aaker, (1998) in have shown that when branding is used, the product is associated with a willing, able and reliable company. Through this MAC cosmetics has been able to establish itself as a leader in the beauty market, building an empire that runs into millions (MAC cosmetics, 2010). Therefore branding of products is simply the creation of a perception in the customer that will lead them to always associate certain values, attributes, themes, relationships and benefits with the products. For this reason any type of product branding aims at the creation of perceptions, experiences and associative behaviours in customers. If these characteristics are not realized then the branding was not successful. According to Jarujet, et al (2009), the brand identity that MAC Cosmetics intend to create is based on their organisation’s objectives which are two fold: it intends to remain the deliverer of trusted creativity in the long run while staying ahead of fashion and trends in the short run.  

The branding of events is a common practice in event development within the advertisement and marketing community. According to Allen et al (2008), branding provides the basis on which every activity in the event is to be tailored on. This is due to the fact that branding is used to direct the emotions created during the events towards the desired goal- that of generating revenue through the sale of the products being launched and subsequent customer loyalty that would lead to enhanced market share (Wernick, 1991). Product launch events, like most corporate events provide a mild semblance of a ceremony where the attendants of such events are treated to a series of gratifying entertainment and presentations that are aimed at sustaining their attention and interest in the events going on (Water4fish, 2011). This attention is further enhanced by the presence of decoration which not only comprise of the decorations on the walls through banners and paintings, but also those on the furniture and the floor. As Baines and Gaynor (2006) observe, the decorations and the design of the event need to be consistent with the branding of the organisation or product in order to draw lasting impression on the target audience.

There are many leading event planners and companies who use branding in the corporate events. These organisations include the following: Brand events UK, coca cola, Kodak, beauty industry like MAC cosmetics and Edinburgh international festival Kolb, (Getz, 2007). These event planners and organizations use branding to launch products like soft drinks, cars, festivals, fashion and other items. It should be realized that branding of events and products is not limited but broadly covers any product produced in the market. Researchers categorise product launch events as one of the crucial steps in the marketing process (Getz, 2007). It is considered to be just as important as the rest of the marketing processes and the determination of the marketing mix due to its potential to give the product a befitting head start in the market (Barnes and Gaynor, 2006). It is therefore conducted, not with the simple goal of celebration and declaring that a new product is on sale in the market, but with the intention of drawing as many consumers as possible to embrace and purchase the products.

Product launch events therefore need to be creatively designed in a manner that not only intrigues the target consumers but also draws attention to the central part of the product: the Brand (Brand Events, 2011). The importance of making the brand visible during such an event can therefore not be overemphasised. Event design also needs to largely reflect on the benefits advocated for by the brand. For instance, in a launch event where beauty products are to be launched, and the brand emphasises the enhancement of elegance among the consumers, the decorations and the physical design of the venue should be done in such a way that any observers would be able to appreciate the elegance in not only the products but also in the event itself (Ramsborg et all, 2008).

Events must not be viewed as simply sessions where product- related activities are carried out but as the grand opportunity to present the target customers with the unique opportunity that would enable them to fully appreciate their brand and the products being launched (Robinson, Wale and Dickson, 2010). Thorough preparations therefore need to be made in order to project the message that the organisation desires to project using the event. The planning process stretches from the determination of the event timing, procedure of events, design of the event as well as the determination of the decorations to be included in the event (Tum, Norton and Wright, 2005). The underlying factor is to attract as much attention as possible while remaining careful to maintain focus on the qualities of the products being launched. The choice of persons to invite for the event as well as the manner in which the event proceedings are propagated to the general public is also important (Goldblatt, 2010). Most organisations ensure that their launch proceedings are aired live on mass media or captured during news highlights to ensure maximum exposure to the public (Tum, Norton and Wright, 2005). This may either be on national or international media outlets. 

Other events in which branding could be useful includes events such as corporate anniversaries, awareness programs, food and wine festivals, and product re-launches among others (Wood and Brotherton, 2008). For instance, the use of branding in events such as the food and wine festivals draws the customers’ attention to the unique look and feel of the foods in question. This often leads to the stimulation of demand by way of persuading customers who previously didn’t consume such foods to start doing so, and in so doing, contribute to the good performance of the foods in the market. Examples of such food and wine festivals are the Abergavenny food festival and the Ludlow marches Food and Drink festival (Goldblatt, 2010). Each of these events showcases food and drink products that are associated with the respective regions. This is because the festivals’ organizers have been able to create certain tastes, colours, designs, logos, trademarks of foods and drinks that are displayed in these festivals (Matthews, 2008). In the process customers have over time associated foods and drinks from these regions with the related designs used when marketing. In addition to this the customer is given a feeling of quality and standard from the consumption of such foods and drinks that are launched by these festivals. Through the identification of certain colours, lines and design types, the customer is conditioned to associate these with the products and quality products.

According to Berridge (2007) branding of events presents the marketer a chance to give the customers a unique experience. Experience is seen as the key player in the influence of the purchasing power of the customer. Through branding, the marketer is able to give the customer the motivation and satisfaction that can be realized from the products (Kotler, 2009). For example in the leisure business the experience of the customer can be created through branded products that depict quality service and good relations with the companies. The idea behind leisure branding is the creation of aesthetic perception. In this context, the event manager will launch a holiday or leisure product through scenic views, catchy slogans and bright colours.
Like many researches have shown, branding has an effect on the senses of the customer. It is able to evoke emotions that are associated with the product. According to Monroe, CMP and CSEP, (2006) the association that the customer has is created though the design of the event. A branded event often has a central theme that directs the overall look and perception of the event. A good example is the Edinburgh city which is associated with the festival look, for this reason, themes behind the events are based on festivity (Silvers, 2003). Colour tones, architecture and trademarks are given a festival look.

The use of the brand as the underlying base for decoration allows the event planners to factor in a myriad of matching and contrasting colours as well as other settings that enable them appreciate the cultural context in which they are operating (Monroe, CMP, and CSEP, 2006). This is in accordance with the underlying maxim that requires organisations to tailor their branding to suit the unique circumstances of the locals which include culture among other factors. The factoring in of the thematic outlook of the event to the cultural context enhances the acceptability of the brand among the people in question leading to the enhancement of a strong performance of the products in the market (Yeoman, et al, 2003).

According to Robinson, Wale and Dickson, (2010) branding gives the event the culture of the people targeted. For example, food and wine that comes from Ludlow is associated with the culture of the people in that area. This is because the event organizers use cultural colours, themes, shapes and objects in the design of the event. In the process customers who identify a certain colour, object or shape in the market, will straight away associate it with the culture. Customers will associate a product launched in this house with the designer decorations and ornaments used during the fashion launch (Mustonen, 2011). This is because the fashion house has been seen to have different themes for each season. The customer is then drawn to new designs, fashionable labels, quality clothes, and perfumes from that season. By making each show unique event designers give the customer an unforgettable experience Wood and Brotherton, (2008). They work on the customer’s senses that will make them always associate certain themes to the product. In the end, the product will sell as unique and different due to the associated feelings created in the client. Branding of the event and the product creates the feeling of authenticity in the customer. Each branding aspect used in the event makes the customer feel like they are having quality and value products from the company. Since brands aims at uniquely creating colours and designs that will represent the product, the process ends up creating a common colour scheme and decorations. For this reason branding creates ‘hot images’ through the use of colours, design and decorations.

The most notable events by MAC Cosmetics that can be used to illustrate the impact of branding on the design and decoration choice for product launch events are the wonder woman launch and the company’s product line launch in Los Angeles. In the case of Wonder Woman, the choice of term was very strategic (Harvery, 2011). 

It was aimed at portraying its products as having the ability to bring out the hero in every woman and therefore appeal to the women who adores a sense of courage, confidence and charisma to identify with the product (Harvery, 2011). The outstanding pictures in the decorations were therefore those of a heroic woman together with pictures depicting her conquest in overcoming her adversaries with an amazing combination of colours that were not only warm, but also exciting and a portrayal of sheer genius. This experience was designed for sheer excitement and the number of guests was restricted in order to allow the attending guests to experience the thrills of the products to the fullest. The company also provided enough make up artists who were both courteous and helpful thereby further enriching the experiences of those in attendance (Jaykaywes, 2011). As can be learned from the success of this event, event design must be approached with creativity and with the intended brand personality in mind in order for the event to be not only memorable but also relevant to the products being launched.

A second experience can be observed from the event conducted by MAC Cosmetics in Los Angeles. With the intention of creating an exciting event that carried with it some measure of ‘shock value’, MAC Cosmetics chose to host a party at a studio, Milk studios (Dubin, 2011). The choice of the venue was in itself a portrayal of excitement as studios are always associated with thrill and excitement. The company went further to invite a popular music band, the cult punk band (Dubin, 2011). The band would adorn themselves in costumes whose design and colouring were in line with the colour themes that would reflect on the brand personality intended by MAC Cosmetics. The two events portray the success that can be achieved when product launch event designs and choice of decorations are selected with creativity and a clear focus on the brand image to be projected.








This chapter explains the process that was used in the collection of data for the research as well as the approach to data analysis that was taken to come up with the results and recommendations listed in the subsequent chapters of this paper. The philosophical paradigms used in the research have also been expounded on in order to give a reflection on the level of objectivity with which the findings and recommendations should be regarded. The research made use of both primary and secondary research where the primary research was done through interviews with players in the event management industry. Professionals in the industry were viewed as the most reliable sources of the information sought after. On the other hand, secondary research was done through analysis of previous works in related subjects as reflected in various books, academic journals, professional and company websites, and other relevant literature.

According to Kumar (2005), research is the systematic investigation of the field of knowledge to generate facts and answers to research questions. The main question was derived from the topic of the paper: What are the effects and influences of branding on decorations and design of the MAC cosmetics product launching events?
This research topic was comprehensively broken down in order to generate the supporting elements which were in form of the research questions outlined below:
·                     What is the importance of branding on product launch events?
·                     What are the effects of branding on the decorations and design of product launch events?
·                     What are the effects of the branded decorations and design on the product launch events?
·                     The effects of the branded product launch event on the customer?

4.3. Research philosophy
The study made use of various research paradigms; ontology and epistemology issues in order to establish the beliefs, assumptions, perceptions, concepts and considerations of the research. In order to reduce the effects of perceptions and assumptions that are made by the researcher, the research should have a philosophical condition (Easterby-smith et al., 2008). The first condition that is satisfied to reduce these perceptions is ontology. This has been seen as the study of ‘being’ that is based on social sciences that is used to describe knowledge and reality on what knowledge looks like and what makes it up. According to Blaikie, (1993) when research is based on ‘ontology’, a research approach should be able to define the views of the researcher based on either subjective or objective reality. For this reason, the researcher should identify any assumptions that may create biased, wrong conclusions on the research (Easterby-smith et al., 2008).

Therefore the following assumptions were made for this research;
·              There exist effects of branding on the design of events for product launch, which greatly affect the product launch.
·              For this reason products like MAC cosmetics are associated with happiness beauty, joy, youthfulness and dreams coming true.
·              These effects are either negative or positive and are reflected on the experiences of the customer with the products.
·              Branding intentionally manipulates the perception and senses of the customer in order to motivate them to buy the products.

In addition to these, there exist perceptions that are under the influence of the researcher’s culture, religion, language, politics and relationships (Eriksson and Kovalainen, 2008). These perceptions and assumptions can be identified by the philosophical conditions of axiology. According to Graham, (2004) axiology is the study of values that are patterned by choices made by people. Based on this condition, the researcher observes that this research has no personal values, social cultural influences or perceptions that will affect the manner in which knowledge generation and the overall research will be carried out (Flowers, 2009). The research bears no political, religious or value biasness, perceptions or assumptions drawn from the researcher’s view.

Finally the research tries to develop a philosophical research, where all knowledge is argued and formed on. According to Eriksson and Kovalainen, (2008), this means that the research process must make use of appropriate research methods. Therefore the research method will satisfy this condition if they are reliable, valid and proven over time. This research meets this condition by using interviews as the dominant research method. For consistency the research questions to be answered were based on the objectives of the research, and find out the effects branding has on products like MAC cosmetics in the market.

There exist many research paradigms that are used in research approach. One of these is the positivist approach which is based on the testing of the hypothesis of the research by drawing from theory. According to Flowers, (2003), this means the use of deductive testing of the observed reality; this type of approach basis research on the truth, reasons and valid facts. When applied to this research the assumption that would be derived is that what happens in product launch events can only be revealed through the use of scientific methods of measurement. It therefore emphasises the use of verifiable data through the use of statistically proven methodologies with the aim of establishing a relationship between given sets of realities (Eaterby-Smith, Thorpe and Jackson, 2008).

The Interpretivist approach according to Hatch and Cunliffe, (2006), is the approach where research is based on the experiences, expectations and memories of people. Using this approach the research will base assumptions on the experience of the person. This however makes the research significantly biased since reality and facts will be derived from the perceptions of the person. The interpretivist paradigm also acknowledges the importance of constant research in order to capture changing perceptions in the market occasioned by the influence of societal changes on peoples’ perspectives on various phenomena (Chia, 2002). This philosophical approach therefore emphasises the analysis of not only the perceptions of the interviews but also the environmental factors that may possibly lead them to hold the kind of views that they hold (James and Vinnicombe, 2002). The most common influences on perceptions are occupation, socio-cultural values, and current events in the market. The realist approach on the other hand acknowledges the existence of subjectivism and objectivism and therefore comes across as an amalgamation of both the positivist approach and the interpretivist approach (James and Vinnicombe, 2002). It acknowledges the influence of people’s perceptions while also accepting that realities exist that do not necessarily reflect on the perceptions that the people hold (James and Vinnicombe, 2002). It focuses more on explanation rather than prediction and it acknowledges the existence of realities that are yet to be proven; unlike the positivist approach (Chia, 2002). Therefore, this research made use of the realist approach in order to ensure a more comprehensive approach. This is due to the fact that the bulk of the interviews are likely to be a reflection of personal opinions of the respective respondents. These responses are expected to be analysed in light of established realities from relevant academic findings in order to come up with reliable findings and recommendations in the study.

The data sources used in this study were both primary and secondary sources. Primary data was collected using interviews that were conducted on professional event managers who provided information based on their wealth of experience in the field. Secondary data was collected through in-depth analysis of previous studies as reflected in academic journals, books, and websites for product launch events. These analyses were useful in the data analysis and the provision of reliable recommendations.  

Interviews were conducted due to their ability to ensure a better understanding of the interviewee responses through the presentation of the opportunity to seek immediate clarifications. Kvale (1996) stated that to have a qualitative interview, the research must cover the factual as well as the level of meaning. A one on one interaction gives the interviewer a chance to gain interpretation of the information given by the interviewee. The converse is also true where the interviewee is able to get immediate clarifications on the questions asked (Kvale, 1996). This minimises the negative effect that would be associated with the situations where there is a misunderstanding as to what information the interviewer seeks from the interviewee.

This understanding is achieved through the interpretation of verbal as well as non-verbal language. Non-verbal language is often left out in other modes of data collection. Verbal language to be observed in this research will involve the choice of words, connotations and tones that are used in speech to signify some meaning (Kvale, 1996). This will give the interviewer a chance to make interpretation of the answers they are given by the interviewee. Elements such emotions and passion can never be adequately expressed by use of words. Non verbal communication therefore enables the researcher to understand the level of importance that the interviewees attach to various ideas enabling the researcher to have a more meaningful approach to recording his/her findings and recommendations (Durham and Kellner, 2005). The non-verbal language are seen from the bodily actions, facial and hand gestures and the position of the body of the interviewee. The interviewer will have a constructed questionnaire that will be used during the interview process. While respecting the view that interviews are strongly influenced by the personalities of both the researcher and the interviewee and how they connect with each other, the use of a questionnaire ensures that the core content of the interview essentially remains the same (Kvale, 1996). This provides the researcher with ease of analysis and interpretation due to the fact that every interviewee gets to respond to similar questions.

The research conditions identified in this proposal indicate that the validity and reliability of data collected in research is influenced by the choice of the methods used. This research is by nature qualitative in that it seeks to derive meaning from data obtained. The use of interviews as the primary method of data collection is valuable in this research based on this research’s opinion that:
·                     They provided a platform for the researcher to obtain enriched data; the researcher freely interacted with respondents and make interpretations based on respondents’ direct responses as well as indirect responses that may be hard to collect through other methods such as questionnaires.
·                     They also offered flexibility through use of open ended questions in which respondents could give additional information useful to the research.
·                     It ensured lower default rates due to the fact that the researcher was in constant communication with targeted respondents and the interview schedules and venues were mutually agreed upon by both the researcher and the interviewees.  

4.6. Population
The research focused on event management organisations whose range of services had at any point involved managing events for MAC Cosmetics product launches and other marketing campaign events as well as a selected number of clients who’ve attended some launch events. These organisations include Brand Events, Event Designer and Creative, and Water4fish. Employees of MAC Cosmetics especially those commonly involved in marketing were also interviewed. The total population size was therefore about 2000 employees and a couple of thousands of events’ attendants.

The research factored in the resources and time available to the researcher in determining the sample size to be considered for the research. Despite the absoluteness associated with research on entire populations, sampling becomes the best alternative in order to ensure that studies are carried out within the scope and resources available (Eriksson and Kovalainen, 2008). The population size of over 2000 would be impossible to interview in the time available and this necessitated the designing of a sample whose views would be assumed to be representative of the entire population. Scholars define a sample as a representative portion of the whole.
The rationale for sampling is based on the belief that samples bear characteristics that are similar to the population and can therefore be studied in order to draw inferences applicable to the rest of the population (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2007). Although this assumption is arguable, it is generally considered that larger samples are more reflective of the whole than smaller samples (Eriksson and Kovalainen, 2008). A researcher therefore needs to ensure that the sample arrived at is the largest one possible for the set of time and resources available for the study. This is especially true with subjects greatly influenced by personal perceptions where individuals are believed to hold unique views on the matters in question. However, circumstances often necessitate the use of samples and care must therefore be taken to ensure that the samples picked are, to the best knowledge of the researcher, representative of the whole (Kvale, 1996). 

The sample size picked for this study was 150 respondents who included 50 customers and 100 players in the event management industry. The number of employees to be interviewed per organisation is 25 (twenty five). Of the 25, 10 would be managerial level staff, while the rest would staff members normally involved in management and running of marketing events including product launch events. This sample size, in the opinion of the researcher, would be adequate in determining the answers to the research questions with relative reliability. 

The determination of the specific candidates for interviews is the function of the sampling process (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2007). Various sampling methods are used in research including random sampling and judgmental sampling among others.  Random sampling is one of the most common methods of sampling used by scholars. In this method, the samples are selected arbitrarily from the population:  without any order or the use of any formula (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2007). This method is the preferred method where there is a high level of homogeneity among the members of the given population. On the other hand, judgmental sampling is suitable for populations with little or no level of homogeneity. Under this method, the researcher determines the respondents based on his own perception of the sample’s characteristics and their ability to reflect the overall views of the population (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2007). In so doing, the researcher must take into account the common mitigating factors such as the environment and the experiences of the persons to be interviewed.

For instance, employees of different organisations are likely to have different experiences and therefore different perceptions and the researcher may need to take this into consideration (Kvale, 1996). Judgmental sampling reduces the risk of a research’s findings being dominated by a segment of population with unique experiences which are significantly different from those of the other members of the population (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2007). This research combines random sampling and judgmental sampling. Judgemental sampling was used to determine the number of interviewees to be considered from each of the organisations based on the perceived relevance of their experience to the research and in determining the ranks of employees to be interviewed in every organisation. Once these numbers were determined, the determination of the particular persons to be interviewed was determined randomly.
    
The importance of data analysis and interpretation in any research cannot be overemphasised. Data analysis allows for presentation of the collected data in a manner that reflects on the various theories and perceptions prevailing in relation to the research subject (Easterby-Smith, Thorpe and Jackson, 2008). Palatability of any information in a research is key concern to any researcher as it determines the kind of value that such a study would contribute to the existing body of knowledge. In other words, it determines the usability of any research findings. Data analysis can either be qualitative or quantitative. Quantitative analysis mainly deals with statistics and figures while and are instrumental in establishing statistical relationship between various variables (Easterby-Smith, Thorpe and Jackson, 2008). Qualitative analysis on the other hand emphasises on interpretations, perceptions and generating explanations (Easterby-Smith, Thorpe and Jackson, 2008). In this research, both qualitative and quantitative data analysis methods were used. The data has been presented using various visual aids for ease of reference and clarity of the information presented.

The first ethical consideration is maintenance of the integrity of the interviewees, through the attainment of consent and maintenance of confidentiality (Kvale, 1996). The commitment to protect the anonymity of the interviewees was done in writing in a bid to reiterate the researcher’s commitment and to encourage the interviewees to freely discuss the issues relevant to the research. Identity was not required during the interview, and the interviews were conducted at the convenience of the interviewee in terms of time and venue. The respondents were also promised that if they so wished, they would be furnished with the research findings for their own use and record.
The right of the respondents to refrain from answering various sections of the questionnaires must also be respected. This right was respected and the researcher refrained from coercion in securing cooperation from prospective interviewees and from insisting on obtaining answers for questions that the interviewees were reluctant to answer. The research also refrained from reporting sensitive information that could potentially compromise the image of the organisations represented by these interviewees.

This research had to contend with a number of challenges. First among these was the unavailability of interviewees after the schedules had already been fixed. Such challenges may have been occasioned by changing commitments to their times, and in some cases the target interviewees would just develop cold feet. Where commitments were the issue, alternative appointments were fixed at their convenience and where the interviewee became uncooperative, the researcher endeavoured to find a replacement in the shortest time possible in order to maintain the sample size. However, despite these efforts, only about 92 of the targeted 100 interviewees were actually interviewed. This deviation is in the opinion of the researcher minimal and is not expected to adversely affect the integrity of the findings.

The research also suffered a drawback in relation to the availability of relevant secondary material of an academic nature that would give a theoretical backing to the findings of the study. The bulk of resources in this field tend to concentrate on branding and its importance to the marketing process but they seldom discuss the subject in light of event management. The bulk of resources available in this regard are drawn from event management organisations whose primary goal is to highlight the importance of creativity and originality in event management and do not necessarily go into the theoretical frameworks that would add immense value to this research. This limitation forms the basis for some of the recommendations in subsequent sections of this study. 

The questionnaire that will guide the course of the interviews takes the following format, as seen in appendix I.


This section presents the findings of the primary research that was conducted using interviews that were conducted on event management professionals and MAC Cosmetics employees. It provides both a qualitative and quantitative representation of the findings in order to promote clarity. The results have been presented in both pros and through the use of visual aids to enable the readers grasp the content at a glance and with relative accuracy. As mentioned above, the results are based on the data collected from 92 interviewees as opposed to the 100 interviewees intended at the beginning of the research. A sample script of some of the results of the questionnaire surveys as reflected by the responses of a MAC employee involved in product launch event management; and a player in the event management industry. The results from the questionnaires are largely reflective of the results of the questionnaire surveys. The results were as outlined in the sections below:

The determination of the length of experience was sought in order to create a picture of the level of information that the interviewees may be in possession of and the relevance thereof. The wealth of experience is as tabulated below:
Table 1: length of experience
Length of experience
No. of interviewees
Percentage
Less than one year
18
20%
1-2 years
17
18%
2-5 years
12
13%
5-10 years
25
27%
Over 10 years
20
22%


51% of the interviewees had less than 5 years experience while the rest had over 5 years experience with 5 having been in the industry for about 25 years and 3 registering a 30 years wealth of experience. The fact that the majority of the interviewees have relatively little experience may be both advantageous and disadvantageous. The disadvantage may be in the fact that their level of experience may not be adequate for them to establish cause-effect relationship in the factors critical to this research. However, this statistic may be indicative of an inflow of valuable ideas into the industry that may help contribute to the effectiveness of the marketing process which include product launch effects.

The responsibility levels of the interviewees were as tabulated below:
Table 2: Responsibility levels
Responsibility level
No. of interviewees
%age
First level supervisor
18
20%
Manager
19
20%
non managerial staff
55
60%

The third questioned focused on finding out how frequently the interviews made use of branding in beauty and cosmetic product marketing. Over 90% answered to the affirmative while a dismal 10% pledged to have had no experience with branding in product launch events. The dissenting opinion was based on the argument that branding was an unnecessary component of the product launch events and that focusing on product features and making the launch event experiences enjoyable and memorable would suffice. 

The most crucial elements of launch events that have the greatest bearing on their effectiveness from the preparers perspectives included: the design of the event; the theme as portrayed in the choice of decoration; the choice of location of the event; and the pricing of the products at the event.

The respondents were also emphatic on the fact that branding helps improve the effectiveness of product launch events. 85% of the respondents acknowledged the fact that branding generally served to help focus the attention of the attendants towards the brand and what the brand stands for. This, in their opinion, played a crucial role in creating a relationship between their target customers and the brand. Only a dismal 15% of the respondents were of the opinion that branding has no effect or a negative effect on the effectiveness of such events.

The question on how branding influences the design of the events and the choice of decoration was answered as follows. Respondents suggested various ways in which branding influence the design of the events. The most common influence in design is the choice of set of activities that are to comprise the launch event. Depending on the type of product and the brand image to be projected, the timing, duration of the event, and the experiences the attendants are to be put through would depend on the organiser’s perception on their effectiveness in enhancing the brand. In relation to the choice of decoration, branding was hailed for influencing the choice of colour themes, decoration types, and positioning of such decorations.

The respondents were also emphatic that it was crucial that every marketers wholly understand the concepts of branding in order to ensure that they would be in a position to put the concepts into good use in order to maximise the effects of such events.  

Product tangible attributes are qualities that can be directly attributed to the products and are often a physical feature associated with them. Such attributes may include durability for equipment, printing speed and colouring quality for printing machines, horsepower for vehicles, taste in the case of different foods, and scent in the case of perfumes. On the other hand, product intangible attributes refer to perceptions that are created in the consumers’ minds towards a given product. Such feelings involve the feeling of security, assurance of fashion consciousness of the user, simplicity of purchase and consumption, and historical inferences among others. When questioned on the preference for product attributes, whether tangible or intangible, about 80% of the respondents were in favour of product intangible attributes in marketing beauty and cosmetic products. While acknowledging the importance of having well designed products that meet the desires of the target customers, the interviewees drew from their experience to determine that proper branding using product intangible attributes worked better for cosmetic and beauty products. In their opinion, the users of such products tend to be moved by the psychological feelings that are built around the products such as those of ‘fun’ and ‘fashion’. The minority view favoured product tangible attributes arguing that irrespective of the image created around a product, it would always boil down to the features of the products which the consumers find likable. This view was however countered by the proponents of product intangible attributes who held the view that when branding is done effectively; the consumer’s tastes and preferences tend to be bent on conforming to the product features in question. Marketing is in most cases about demand creation and this often results in persuading consumers to consume products they probably would never have consumed in the absence of effective marketing campaigns.

The intangible attributes can either be considered before or after the branding experience. The difference between the two timings depends on the origination of such attributes. The opinion of the interviewees was almost uniformly divided between the two options with 51% being of the view that intangible attributes should be considered before the branding experience. In their opinion, the producers of the product are best placed in identifying the product features before hand and therefore be in a better position to generate the intangible attributes that would help sell these products in the market. This model may also at time involve modification of the product features and the packaging design in order to ensure that the attributes are not a contradiction of the product features. Proponents of this approach take the view that branding is so central to the organisation’s marketing programs that it cannot be left to the stakeholders who have little knowledge of the organisation’s generic strategies. On the other hand, generation of intangible attributes after the branding experience involves making enquiries on the impact of the product in question among the customers. Proponents of this approach take the view that considering the perceptions in the market enables the creation of a brand that easily resonates with the market and therefore more likely to succeed in propelling the performance of the products in the market. The experience that was quoted by MAC Cosmetics employees and those that have managed their events stated that the company tends to create the attributes prior to the branding experience and this informs their product designs and packaging thereby making the company’s products remains consistent with their generic strategies.

The attributes that are seen to be beneficial to beauty and cosmetic products over the long term are varied and may include high quality, upscale, and hip. The interviewees’ opinion on these attributes and the choices of the most beneficial ones was equally varied. The attribute that was most advocated for as a performance catalyst over the long term is high quality. However, this was with an unconvincing majority where the opinion was almost equally divided among the three intangible attributes.  The opinions were as tabulated and presented below:

Brand attribute
No. of interviewees
%age
High Quality
33
   35%
Upscale
29

 32%
Hip
30

 33%


 Those in favour of ‘high quality’ were of the opinion that the need for trusted quality in the market rarely changes and the products that are able to identify themselves with this attribute tend to win in the long term. Those in favour of the ‘hip’ were of the opinion that customers make purchasing decisions in response to specific needs and therefore in the long run tend to choose products that are associated with those needs. On the other hand, those who advocated for ‘upscale’ tended to argue that human beings generally tend to aim at bettering their lives and will always want to be viewed as such by identifying with products that enable them improve their social image even when they are yet to reach the desired social status.

The interviewees were then asked to choose the most commonly used brand personalities during the launch of cosmetic and beauty products. The personalities were Sincerity, Excitement, Competence, Sophistication, and Ruggedness. Of these personalities, a combination of Excitement, Sincerity, and Competence received the highest number of endorsements.  An overwhelming majority of the respondents (over 90%) agreed that brand personalities bore great relevance in determining the event design and the choice of decorations during the product launch events.

There tended to be a consensus towards emphasis of decorations and colour schemes that were in line with the brand personality. So was the design of the event. For instance, excitement could be portrayed by avoiding the traditional formal arrangements normally used during events and replaced by a creative sitting arrangement and presentation styles that put the audience into a party mood. The feeling created later tends to resonate with the product and therefore contribute to the brand image in subsequent times. Portrayal of sincerity was voiced as useful as it makes the audience understand that the products actually possess the qualities possessed and that the marketing exercise is not an exercised riddled with unreasonable amounts of exaggeration. Portrayal of competence on the other hand gives the audience the assurance that the products are of merchantable quality and therefore not likely to adversely affect the users. According to most interviewees, the factoring in of these brand personalities in the designing of the event is crucial as it ensures the audience have the intended attitude towards the event and the products. The choice of decorations and event design also helps shape the expectations of the audience. These expectations are aligned to the goings on in the event and ends up in a situation that the audience get an exciting encounter that is not only very satisfying, but also memorable and unique.

Various customer experiences are created during the product launch events including Sense experiences, Feel experiences, Think experiences, Act experiences, and Relate experiences. The interviewees were asked draw from their experience in event management and rank the extent to which these experiences are invoked and their responses were recorded as contained in the table below:

Customer Experiences
Impact levels
Column1
Column2
Column3
Column4

Very High
High
Neutral
Low
Very Low
Sense experiences; sensory
30
23
15
18
6
Feel experiences; affect and emotions
40
42
5
3
2
Think experiences; creative and cognitive
20
32
20
15
5
Act experiences; lifestyles and behaviour
15
20
12
25
20
Relate experiences; connect with similar group
35
42
8
5
2
From the statistics above, there is strong evidence that event design and decoration has a significant role to play in bringing about the desired experiences among the audience. In the case of sensory experiences, over 58% polled high and very high. Similarly, the polling for Feel, Think, Act and Relate experiences were high at 89%, 57%, 38%, and 84% respectively. For clarity, the figure below illustrates the interviewees’ opinion on the level of impact that product launch events can have on various customer experiences using the figures submitted for high and very high impact levels:
In general the interviewees stated that the bulk of their event design and choice of decorations is determined by the brand. This is due to the fact that it is the branding that provides the basis for the entire event. This enables them to remain focused on projecting the products and the company as they should. A manager in one of the event management organisations remarked that in the absence of branding, product launch events could simply be equated to social gatherings with no serious agenda. There was a general consensus on the importance of branding in product launch events. This was based on the argument that branding gives a deeper meaning to the products and the organisations and enables the customers to relate to the products in a manner that goes beyond the tangible benefits derived from the product. It is this brand experience that inspires loyalty and shields the products from losing out their market share in the face of stiff competition. Use of the brand in the event also enhances brand awareness and consequently leads to higher success rates of the products in the market.

The experiences from customers who’ve attended product launch events confirmed that event design bore great significance in making their experiences memorable. Of great significance was the kind of treatment accorded to them during the launch events as well as the choice of level of exposure to the products. A sizeable number (60%) were also greatly impressed by the availability of price discounts for the products bought during the events.

The respondents were almost unanimous (90%) on the relationship between good use of branding and the creation of long lasting brand awareness in their minds. They admitted that where the events design and decorations focussed accurately on the brand image, such brand images were mastered with relative ease.
To confirm the value of launch events to organisations, interviewees were asked to state whether they would remain loyal to the brands whose product launches they had attended. An analysis of the results showed that those who had confirmed to have immensely enjoyed the events almost unanimously answered to the affirmative. These findings provide the justification for the interest accorded such events by most organisations.


This chapter discusses the results contained in the previous chapter and tends to draw a relationship between the findings and known theoretical concepts relating to the subject of the study. In this section, the results have been framed in a manner that enables a direct linkage to the research questions and therefore aims to answer the questions using the findings above. It also provides a glimpse into two of the product launch events conducted by MAC Cosmetics in the recent past and goes on to relate the exercises with the concepts experienced in this study. It also provides an in-depth analysis of some of the concepts alluded to in the previous chapter by the application of analysis of relevant secondary sources.

The results of this study bring out a strong backing for the use of branding in event design and the choice of decorations during product launch events for beauty and cosmetic products. It is important to acknowledge that product launch events are part and parcel of the marketing strategy of the organisations and not isolated events that are conducted arbitrarily (Mustonen, 2011). The processes that are associated with good marketing strategies are therefore applicable to holding effective product launch events. According to Keller and Aaker (2008), branding is a core component of any marketing process and provides the basis for any marketing activity. When considering the importance of branding to the product launch events, it is important to consider the elements of the brand that are most important for beauty and cosmetic products (Depack, 2008). The findings of this study are consistent with previous research into the brand experience of cosmetic products. These findings tend to favour intangible attributes over tangible attributes (Barnes and Gaynor, 2006). Intangible attributes refer to the emotions and feelings that the product is associated with as a result of its brand awareness campaigns (Goliath, 2006). It is therefore purely psychological. Such associations as joy, fulfilment, class, and the like are not measurable but can be of immense value to a company when their products can be directly associated with them. Tangible attributes on the other hand refer to features that are found within the products (Goliath, 2006). These include things like scent in the case of cosmetic products. They are part and parcel of the product design. Depack (2008) however cautions that the preference for product intangible attributes should never be misconstrued to mean that product features are irrelevant. Studies into the perceptions of consumers reveal that the functionality of products is the most important factor for making purchasing decisions for most consumers (Aaker and Jacobson, 2001). However, in the face of increased competition where products are being introduced into the market at an alarming rate, the product features are in many cases duplicated. The end result is that most cosmetic products are either similar or have very close substitutes and that reduces the competitive edge that any product can command by simply highlighting the product tangible attributes (Barnes and Gaynor, 2006). This is where the value of branding sets in. Branding enables organisations to create certain feelings and emotions around their product in a manner that is not easily replicated by competitors (Girvin, 2011). It becomes the strongest tool through which organisations can enhance customer loyalty and therefore maintain a steady performance despite the presence of close substitutes in the market (Girvin, 2011).


As with any other marketing process, brand creation needs to take into account the brand attributes that tend to create the highest impact in the market. According to Ailawadi, Lehmann and Neslin (2003), scholars have been non-committal on the attributes that influence the market most especially in relation to cosmetic products. This lack of an emphatic answer may be attributed to the constantly changing socio-cultural factors in the affected markets that cause societies to value different attributes at a given time. However, a significant number of scholars hold the view that in the long run, consumers appreciate consistent high quality that is not prone to degradation in the face of constant innovations and changes in the market (Holt, 2004).  Other important attributes have been noted as upscale and hip.

Product launch events are aimed at serving one crucial purpose: that of marketing a new product to the audience and therefore enable smooth introduction into the market (Ali, 2011). The aim is therefore to draw the attention of the audience to the products while creating memorable experiences that would enable the audience to identify with the products thereafter. Recent research findings indicate that successful product launching contributes immensely to good performance of the given products in the market (Landmark Event Services Inc., 2011). A good product launch event has been described as one which creates unique experiences for the audience while remaining focused on the product and the brand personality that the company wishes to have the audience identify with the product (Bowdin et all, 2006). Brand personality has variously been described as a set of core values that characterise a brand and are expressed in form of human personality traits (Aaker, 1997). Such traits include being friendly, innovative, exciting, rugged, sophisticated, competent, and sincere among others. Brand personality provides the avenue through which consumers have a relationship with the brand (Aaker, 1997). Research into consumer purchasing behaviour reveal that an average consumer tends to purchase products whose brand personality is likeable or acceptable to them (Ailawadi, Lehmann and Neslie, 2003). The reflection of brand personality during the launch events may therefore form a strong basis for the success or failure of such an event. According to recent research findings, most consumers of beauty and cosmetic products tend to prefer brand personalities that border on being friendly, exciting, and sincere (Sherman, 2011). A personality generally associated with joy, fun and personal fulfilment. The launch event therefore needs to select a design and decoration scheme that helps create a semblance of such personalities.

Brand personality is therefore critical in event design and decoration. Event design involves a number of elements such as the choice of location, the interior design of the event venue and even the sitting arrangement to be embraced during the event (Matthews, 2008). It also involves the choice of entertainment and food to be served during the event. Event design may also encompass the decision on the timing and length of the event as well and generally everything that goes on during the event (Easy Stretch, 2011). These designs must always be done in a manner that enhances the brand personality in order to ensure the effectiveness of the product launch event. For instance, the traditional formal settings normally associated with corporate events may be a wrong model to choose for an organisation that intends to portray an exciting personality. Similarly, the use of rude and uncaring employees may get in the way of an organisation bent on portraying a sincere and competent personality for its products. These considerations are crucial in any product launch event.

The influence of branding on event design and decoration is beyond question. This may be illustrated through the reflection of the MAC Cosmetic’s launch of the MAC Wonder Woman cosmetic line (Harvery, 2011). The choice of the term ‘Wonder Woman’ was strategic. It was aimed at portraying its products as having the ability to bring out the hero in every woman and therefore appeal to the women who adores a sense of courage, confidence and charisma to identify with the product (Harvery, 2011). The outstanding pictures in the decorations were therefore those of a heroic woman together with pictures depicting her conquest in overcoming her adversaries with an amazing combination of colours that were not only warm, but also exciting and a portrayal of sheer genius. Some of the pictures are as portrayed in appendix II. This experience was designed for sheer excitement and the number of guests was restricted in order to allow the attending guests to experience the thrills of the products to the fullest. The company also provided enough make up artists who were both courteous and helpful thereby further enriching the experiences of those in attendance (Jaykaywes, 2011). As can be learned from the success of this event, event design must be approached with creativity and with the intended brand personality in mind in order for the event to be not only memorable but also relevant to the products being launched.

A second experience can be observed from the event conducted by MAC Cosmetics in Los Angeles. With the intention of creating an exciting event that carried with it some measure of ‘shock value’, MAC Cosmetics chose to host a party at a studio, Milk studios (Dubin, 2011). The choice of the venue was in itself a portrayal of excitement as studios are always associated with thrill and excitement. The company went further to invite a popular music band, the cult punk band (Dubin, 2011). The band would adorn themselves in costumes whose design and colouring were in line with the colour themes that would reflect on the brand personality intended by MAC Cosmetics. As can be seen from the experience of MAC Cosmetics, there is no limit to the level of creativity that event managers can exercise in order to bring about a successful product launch event that not only excites the audience, but also helps to permanently engrave the brand awareness into them.

The event design and decorations creates a number of experiences for the audience. These experiences include sense experiences (sensory), feel experiences (affections and emotions), think experiences (creative and cognitive), act experiences (lifestyles and behaviour), and relate experiences (connect with similar group) (Getz, 2007). The kind of experience is mostly dependent on the types of activities being engaged in during the event. For instance, an event that involves the audience being exposed to the products through make up may score highly on the creation of sense experiences. Think experiences can ideally be created where the event involves certain exciting puzzles which the audience may be challenged to solve and obtain a reward if successful (Getz, 2007). Care should be taken when designing such activities in order to ensure that the experience is very enjoyable to the participating audience. The incentive must also be substantial in order to motivate them to take part in the exercise. Similarly, feel experiences can be brought about through the choice of pictures, decorations and entertainment during the event. The most important thing in event design is to focus on the kind of experiences that would be most desirable for the products being launched and then design the activities in a manner that aims to bring out the desired experiences (Risk management for meetings and events, 2007). The kind of experience that the organisation wants to create during product launch events should be consistent with the brand personality being projected during the event. For cosmetic products, researchers are of the view that feel experiences tend to be more effective than other experiences (Jacobson, 2011). However, events should not overtly concentrate on creating one kind of experience. The approach popularly advocated for by scholars involves creation of a set of experiences in order to accommodate the different personalities in the audience.

Branding is therefore central to any product launch event its influence must be emphasised in order to ensure that the launch process is successful. A good product launch event can only serve the purpose of exciting the audience and does little to ensure that such an audience identify with and remain loyal to the company brand and their products. It is therefore tantamount to the proverbial shot in the dark. The conclusion drawn by Goldbatt (2005) summarises the essence of this study. He states that “Having a basis that guides the event design and decoration enables event managers to channel the attention of the audience to the brand and therefore raise the brand awareness”. Research has shown that consumers generally tend to buy products associated with the brands they are aware of at any given time. This is the premise on which the emphasis of using the brand as a basis for event design and choice of decorations is based.


This chapter contains a brief summary of the contents of the study. It outlines the understanding of product launch events and branding before relating the two concepts and explaining why branding has an impact on the event design and on the choice for decorations during product launch events. The chapter also makes recommendations for future research based on the inadequacies observed in the course of conducting this research.

Product launch events are part and parcel of the marketing process. They involve the organisation of a set of activities aimed at creating memorable experiences to the audience in order to inspire them to remain loyal to the brand and to consume the products being launched. The importance of product launch events to the marketing process cannot be overemphasised. This is why organisations must ensure they come up with an appropriate design for the event that can ensure that the audience’s experiences are memorable, but also that the audience’s attention is focused on the brand. The most basic but crucial point in organising a product launch event is the attraction of the audience. Without the audience, no event can take place. Getting an audience to attend a product launch event is increasingly challenging in the wake of all the pressures that the average consumer is exposed to in the modern world. The organisers of the events must therefore creatively consider how to ensure attendance by engaging in awareness campaigns, organising draws for the event, or even offering special discounts on the products for those who will be available for the actual event.
The use of celebrities or key personalities to pull the crowds should also be considered. This option should however be exercised only after adequate research on the kind of personalities that one’s target audience may would prefer. The product launch event should be different from marketing campaigns in that it must allow the audience to experience the products in a manner that would inspire them to continue using the said products.

Event design is one of the most crucial elements of any product launch event. The event design to be arrived at in a product launch event is supposed to be a reflection of research conducted on the target audience to determine which kind of events would satisfy them the most. This is due to the fact that events are expected to produce valuable and memorable experiences among the persons attending any events. This event design refers to the nature of activities to be undertaken during the events as well as the duration of such activities. For instance, Zeo, which had invented a sleep monitoring machine that would gather data from brain waves of people while they slept, opted to have a launch event that required the attendees to spend the night at the product launch event where the functionality and benefits of the machine could be explicitly demonstrated. Similarly, launch events for beauty products often include experiential sessions where those in the audience that may wish to have a first hand experience of the product are given the opportunity where they are exposed to sophisticated treatment by the company’s employees.

The determination of the nature of presentation and the choice of who to make the presentation is equally crucial to determine the extent to which the audience believes the information offered. One of the most effective approaches taken by organisations involves the use of customers who have already tested the product and have been satisfied by it. They are allowed an opportunity to recount their experiences while the company employees involved demonstrate on the functionality of such products. This enhances the effectiveness of the product launch events. The presentation styles also need to reflect on both the product and the level of understanding of the audience in question. The presenters need to have a thorough knowledge of the communication styles that are most effective in relaying meaning to the target audience. Where the wrong choice of communication is adopted, the product launch event is as good as failed. Moreover, the nature of the product must also be considered in designing the communication styles to be adopted. For instance, the communication adopted for launching a face cream would be definitely different from that used for launching computer software.

Similarly, event design refers to the choice of venue and sequence of events during the launch including the choice of whether or not to provide food and refreshments. Given that the launch event is aimed at creating valuable and memorable experiences on the target customers, the aspects of human comfort that may not necessarily have anything to do with the product must also be considered. Trivial details such as the provision of enough sitting space could potentially lead to the failure of a well designed event. The audience that attend such an event and are forced to be on their feet till they are exhausted may not be able to fully appreciate the information being presented. The event should also be accompanied by the provision of reference materials detailing the functionality of the products that the audience can later refer to at their own convenience. This should be provided together with the contact information that the target customers would need whenever they need to any clarifications.

In order to fully understand the influence that branding has on event design and the choice of decorations in product launch events, it is important to recap the essentials of branding. Branding can be defined as an identity that is assigned to a product or an organisation based on the perceptions it creates in the minds of the market players. Brands are identified using symbols, names, slogans or even signs. The interaction with a brand is referred to as the brand experience which results in the creation of a brand image. Brand image is the mental constructions of the brand based on information gathered and personal experiences of the customer. The brand provides the basis for the creation of a psychological relationship between the customer and the products. Where a strong relationship exists, the clients remain loyal to the company’s products and are not swayed by the presence of substitutes that often tend to be availed in lower prices or with additional features. The main aim of any branding exercise is therefore to generate customer loyalty. In oft times, there exist differences in brand perceptions between the organisation and the consumers. The consumers’ perception towards the brand is known as the brand image while the company’s perception is the brand identity. The aim of marketing campaigns is to try and harmonise the two in order to align the expectations of the consumers with the benefits the products are able to provide or just to ensure that differences in perceptions do not affect the product performance negatively. This is part of the brand management process. Brand management refers to the process by which brands are created and maintained. The aim of any brand management process is to ensure that the brand reaches the point of brand recognition. This the point at which the brand is known by virtually all the consumers in the market. The aim of this emphasis is based on the premise that consumers only tend to opt for products whose brands they are already aware of. Brand awareness refers to a situation where consumers are in a position to recognise a brand irrespective of the prevailing circumstances at any given point. Making consumers aware of a brand is therefore one of the acknowledged ways of ensuring the success of products in the market. Brand image also insulates organisations from the hazards of stiff competition that may push prices downwards. This is due to the influence of the brand premium where consumers tend to prefer purchasing products from a recognised brand despite the price differences. This is what is referred to as the brand premium. Brands must also be clear on the brand promise. The customers must be clear on what a brand stands for in order to gain the requisite levels of brand awareness.

This research sought to find out the influence that branding has on product launch event design and the choice of decorations during such events. The study mainly dwelt on primary research through interviews with various players in the event management field. The study recorded an overwhelming endorsement of the fact that branding greatly influences the event design and choice of decoration during events. This was consistent with previous studies that confirm that the use of branding in product launch events is critical to the success of such events. One of the most critical elements of brand in product launch events is the brand personality. Brand personality can be described as a set of core values that characterise a brand and are expressed in form of human personality traits. Such traits include being friendly, innovative, exciting, rugged, sophisticated, competent, and sincere among others. Brand personality provides the avenue through which consumers have a relationship with the brand. This is based on the premise that humans tend to relate better to traits that are similar to their own and can therefore only be loyal to personalities that are either compatible with their aspirations or those that are acceptable to them. The reflection of brand personality during the launch events may therefore form a strong basis for the success or failure of such an event. According to recent research findings, most consumers of beauty and cosmetic products tend to prefer brand personalities that border on being friendly, exciting, and sincere. A personality generally associated with joy, fun and personal fulfilment is good for cosmetic products.

It has also been established that product intangible attributes tend to be more effective in creating lasting relationships with customers than product tangible attributes. Intangible attributes refer to the emotions and feelings that the product is associated with as a result of its brand awareness campaigns. It is therefore purely psychological. Such associations as joy, fulfilment, class, and the like are not measurable but can be of immense value to a company when their products can be directly associated with them. Tangible attributes on the other hand refer to features that are found within the products. These include things like scent in the case of cosmetic products.
Having established the importance of branding in any marketing process, of which product launch events are an integral part of, it follows that branding must play a crucial role in the design of such events. Branding provides the basis through which any product launch events must be designed. Without the use of branding, these events only amount to enjoyment forums for the audience who may not take actions that are of value to the company after the event. It is important that the design of the event and the decorations settled on bring out the desired brand personality. This enables the audience to identify with the products long after the product launch event.

This research acknowledges that studies on the influence of branding are lacking and recommends further study into the same. The bulk of studies aimed at creating a relationship between the two phenomena only tend to use inferences whose main basis is the strategic importance of the branding process to organisations’ generic strategies and the strategic marketing process. The branding process forms the basis for marketing processes including the product launch process. The implication of this fact is that branding is expected to have a significant influence on these events. The sentiments of the interviewees in the project and the secondary data reviewed also tend to confirm the same. However, little effort has been made to quantify the value of the use of branding in such processes. In general, the success or failure of a product launch event may be due to a number of factors other than the use of branding. It is therefore expected that scepticism exist on the accuracy of the presumptions quoted in the sections above. Such a study would involve high levels of sophistication it would be a necessary venture in order to put any prevailing doubts to rest.


For more theory and case studies on: http://expertresearchers.blogspot.com/

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2)      Background
a)                  For how long have you been in the event organization industry?
o Less than one year
o One year to less than two years
o Two years to less than five years
o Five years to less than ten years
o Ten years or more  
b)                  Which of the following best describes your position in the organization?
o First level supervisor
o Manager/ supervisor above first level
o Not a manager / supervisor
c)                  Do you make use of branding in beauty and cosmetic product marketing and in product launch events?
     o Yes                  o No
i)                                If yes, how often
o Once or twice in my career,
o Occasionally
o All the times
ii)                              If no, explain why
………………………………………………………………………………………………….
…………………………………………………………………………………………………..
d)                 From your own perspective, which are the most crucial elements of an effective product launch event? Please list the first three in order of importance
…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………………………………………………………………………..
e)                  From you experience, does branding affect the effectiveness of product launch events?
 o Yes                  o No
Please explain …………………………………………………………………………………………………..
f)                   In what ways does branding affect the event design and choice of decorations at product launch events?
………………………………………………………………………………………………….………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….………………………………………………………………………………..
g)                  How crucial is the understanding of the concept of branding to the product launch events?
…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………………………………………………………………………..
h)                  In branding which of the following brand positions are mostly used in your organization?
o Product tangible attribute, (e.g. horsepower in cars, scent in perfumes, taste in food)
o Product intangible attributes, (e.g. user imagery, history, experiences, purchase and consumption imagery)
Explain …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
i)                    Are the intangible attributes considered before or after the branding experience?
i)                                If before, explain
………………………………………………………………………………………………….
…………………………………………………………………………………………………..
ii)                              If after, explain ………………………………………………………………………………
…………………………………………………………………………………………………..

j)                    Which attributes in a brand have you found to benefit the beauty and cosmetic product launch over a long time?
o High quality,
o Upscale, 
o Hip,
Explain………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
3)      Which of the following one or combination of brand personalities do you use when launching beauty and cosmetic products?
o Sincerity,   
o Excitement,
o Competence,
o Sophistication,
o Ruggedness,
4)                  How do the personalities identified affect the decision of beauty and cosmetic products event design and decoration, is it of strategic or tactical importance, explain?
………………………………………………………………………………………………….
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
5)                  To what extent in your experience does the event design and decorations affect the creation of the following experiences in customers in the beauty and cosmetic industry? (1-very low, 2-low, 3-neutral, 4- high, 5-very high)

1
2
3
4
5
Sense experiences; sensory





Feel experiences; affect and emotions





Think experiences; creative and cognitive





Act experiences; lifestyles and behavior





Relate experiences; connect with similar group






a.                   Therefore in your experience, are decorations and beauty and cosmetic event designs determined by branding, explain?
………………………………………………………………………………………………….
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
b.                  To what extent does branding have an impact on the beauty and cosmetic product launch and the image of the company in general, explain?
………………………………………………………………………………………………….
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
6)      Would you say that the launch events attended left a lasting impression on you?
Yes o                         No o
Please explain...................................................................................................................
7)      What component of the events impressed you the most? (Please rate in order of influence)

5
4
3
2
1
The location of the events





events' timing





interior designs





decoration colour themes





level of service during the events





the suitability of products





price discounts at the events






8)      Please explain briefly what impressed you most about the events attended (list three factors)
............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
9)      Was the use of branding easily recognisable in the event?
............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
10)  Would you say that branding was central to the product launch event attended?
............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
11)  Would you say that the events contributed to your brand awareness of the organisations and their products?
Yes    o                            No   o
Please explain...................................................................................................................
12)  Based on your experience at the product launch events, would you continue consuming the products displayed? 
Yes    o                            No   o
Please explain...................................................................................................................

 
 
 
Source: http://thebohemiandiva.wordpress.com/2011/02/10/event-m-a-c-cosmetics-pre-launch-of-the-wonder-woman-spring-line/


  

Source: http://www.temptalia.com/mac-cosmetics-the-originals-official-launch-information-product-photos




Appendix IV: Questionnaire results: MAC employee 1  
     o Yes                  o No
2)      Background
a)                  For how long have you been in the event organization industry?
o   Less than one year
o   One year to less than two years
o   Two years to less than five years
o   Five years to less than ten years
o Ten years or more            
b)                  Which of the following best describes your position in the organization?
o         First level supervisor
o       Manager/ supervisor above first level
o Not a manager / supervisor
c)                  Do you make use of branding in beauty and cosmetic product marketing and in product launch events?
     o   Yes                  o   No
i)                                If yes, how often
o   Once or twice in my career,
o   Occasionally
o   All the times
ii)                              If no, explain why
N/A…………………………………………………………………………………………

d)                 From your own perspective, which are the most crucial elements of an effective product launch event? Please list the first three in order of importance
1.      The design of the events
2.      The choice of location on where to hold the events
3.      The use of correctly branded decoration
e)                  From you experience, does branding affect the effectiveness of product launch events?
 o   Yes                  o   No
Please explain Statistics collected among the customers that had initially attended the launch event indicated that the over 60% ended up being loyal customers making regular purchases of the products.
f)                   In what ways does branding affect the event design and choice of decorations at product launch events?
The events must be conducted in line with the brand image the company intends to project. The choice of activities to be part of the event as well as the theme projected by the decorations must be aligned to the brand image to be projected.
g)                  How crucial is the understanding of the concept of branding to the product launch events?
The knowledge of branding is critical
h)                  In branding which of the following brand positions are mostly used in your organization?
o    Product tangible attribute, (e.g. horsepower in cars, scent in perfumes, taste in food)
o Product intangible attributes, (e.g. user imagery, history, experiences, purchase and consumption imagery)
Explain
Cosmetics are mainly used by clients who want to feel good about themselves and this makes the clients easy to convince using an imagery of what the products could be d for them. E.g. wonder-woman
i)                    Are the intangible attributes considered before or after the branding experience?
i)                                If before, explain
The product intangible attributes can not be derived directly from the products and can therefore not be created from experiences with the products
ii)                              If after, explain ………………………………………………………………………………
…………………………………………………………………………………………………..
j)                    Which attributes in a brand have you found to benefit the beauty and cosmetic product launch over a long time?
o    High quality,
o Upscale, 
o    Hip,
Explain
Most cosmetics clients use the products out of their need to want to be associated with a higher social status.
3)      Which of the following one or combination of brand personalities do you use when launching beauty and cosmetic products?
o   Sincerity,  
o Excitement,
o   Competence,
o Sophistication,
o   Ruggedness,
4)      How do the personalities identified affect the decision of beauty and cosmetic products event design and decoration, is it of strategic or tactical importance, explain?
The brand personalities are of a strategic importance- and to a little extent, of technical importance
The themes and activity schedules must be able to reflect on the brand personalities to be projected.

5)      To what extent in your experience does the event design and decorations affect the creation of the following experiences in customers in the beauty and cosmetic industry? (1-very low, 2-low, 3-neutral, 4- high, 5-very high)

1
2
3
4
5
Sense experiences; sensory




Feel experiences; affect and emotions




Think experiences; creative and cognitive




Act experiences; lifestyles and behaviour




Relate experiences; connect with similar group





a)                  Therefore from your experience, are decorations and beauty and cosmetic event designs determined by branding, explain?
Yes
b)                  To what extent does branding have an impact on the beauty and cosmetic product launch and the image of the company in general, explain?
Branding is central to the product launch events and a key determinant to the success of the same
6)      Would you say that the launch events attended left a lasting impression on you?
Yes o                         No o
Please explain...................................................................................................................
7)      What component of the events impressed you the most? (Please rate in order of influence)

5
4
3
2
1
The location of the events





events' timing





interior designs





decoration colour themes





level of service during the events





the suitability of products





price discounts at the events






8)      Please explain briefly what impressed you most about the events attended (list three factors)
............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
9)      Was the use of branding easily recognisable in the event?
............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
10)  Would you say that branding was central to the product launch event attended?
............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
11)  Would you say that the events contributed to your brand awareness of the organisations and their products?
Yes    o                            No   o
Please explain...................................................................................................................
12)  Based on your experience at the product launch events, would you continue consuming the products displayed? 
Yes    o                            No   o
Please explain...................................................................................................................
Thank you





Appendix V: Questionnaire: MAC employee 2  
     o Yes                  o No
2.      Background
b)                  For how long have you been in the event organization industry?
o   Less than one year
o   One year to less than two years
o   Two years to less than five years
o    Five years to less than ten years
o   Ten years or more            
c)                  Which of the following best describes your position in the organization?
o       First level supervisor
o         Manager/ supervisor above first level
o Not a manager / supervisor
d)                 Do you make use of branding in beauty and cosmetic product marketing and in product launch events?
     o   Yes                  o   No
i)                                If yes, how often
o   Once or twice in my career,
o   Occasionally
o   All the times
ii)                              If no, explain why
N/A…………………………………………………………………………………………

e)                  From your own perspective, which are the most crucial elements of an effective product launch event? Please list the first three in order of importance
1.      Branding
2.      The design of the events
3.      The choice of location on where to hold the events
f)                   From you experience, does branding affect the effectiveness of product launch events?
 o   Yes                  o   No
Please explain
Where branding is done effectively during the launch, we experience a surge in sales of our products.
g)                  In what ways does branding affect the event design and choice of decorations at product launch events?
The theme must reflect on the brand
The colours must be company colours
The mood created should portray the brand personality
h)                  How crucial is the understanding of the concept of branding to the product launch events?
Very critical
i)                    In branding which of the following brand positions are mostly used in your organization?
o    Product tangible attribute, (e.g. horsepower in cars, scent in perfumes, taste in food)
o Product intangible attributes, (e.g. user imagery, history, experiences, purchase and consumption imagery)
Explain
The products we offer appeal more to the imagery with people often desiring to feel good about themselves and the products
j)                    Are the intangible attributes considered before or after the branding experience?
i)                                If before, explain
………………………………………………………………………………
…………………………………………………………………………………………………..
ii)                              If after, explain ………………………………………………………………………………
…………………………………………………………………………………………………..
k)                  Which attributes in a brand have you found to benefit the beauty and cosmetic product launch over a long time?
o    High quality,
o Upscale, 
o    Hip,
Explain
Looks and class go hand in hand and cosmetics serve this purpose for most people.
2.      Which of the following one or combination of brand personalities do you use when launching beauty and cosmetic products?
o   Sincerity,  
o Excitement,
o    Competence,
o Sophistication,
o   Ruggedness,
3.                  How do the personalities identified affect the decision of beauty and cosmetic products event design and decoration, is it of strategic or tactical importance, explain?
N/A

4.                  To what extent in your experience does the event design and decorations affect the creation of the following experiences in customers in the beauty and cosmetic industry? (1-very low, 2-low, 3-neutral, 4- high, 5-very high)

1
2
3
4
5
Sense experiences; sensory




Feel experiences; affect and emotions




Think experiences; creative and cognitive




Act experiences; lifestyles and behaviour




Relate experiences; connect with similar group





4.1.            Therefore from your experience, are decorations and beauty and cosmetic event designs determined by branding, explain?
Yes
4.2.            To what extent does branding have an impact on the beauty and cosmetic product launch and the image of the company in general, explain?
Branding affects how the company is perceived and it therefore has a great bearing on how the product is received in the market  
5.      Would you say that the launch events attended left a lasting impression on you?
Yes o                         No o
Please explain...................................................................................................................
6.      What component of the events impressed you the most? (Please rate in order of influence)

5
4
3
2
1
The location of the events





events' timing





interior designs





decoration colour themes





level of service during the events





the suitability of products





price discounts at the events






7.      Please explain briefly what impressed you most about the events attended (list three factors)
............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
8.      Was the use of branding easily recognisable in the event?
............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
9.      Would you say that branding was central to the product launch event attended?
............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
10.  Would you say that the events contributed to your brand awareness of the organisations and their products?
Yes    o                            No   o
Please explain...................................................................................................................
11.  Based on your experience at the product launch events, would you continue consuming the products displayed? 
Yes    o                            No   o
Please explain...................................................................................................................
Thank you




Appendix VI: Questionnaire: MAC employee 2  
Are you a player in the event management industry or an employee of MAC Cosmetics? If yes, go to (2), of no, go to (6)
     o Yes                  o No
Background
11.1.        For how long have you been in the event organization industry?
o   Less than one year
o   One year to less than two years
o   Two years to less than five years
o    Five years to less than ten years
o   Ten years or more            
11.2.        Which of the following best describes your position in the organization?
o       First level supervisor
o         Manager/ supervisor above first level
o Not a manager / supervisor
11.3.        Do you make use of branding in beauty and cosmetic product marketing and in product launch events?
     o   Yes                  o   No
11.3.1.  If yes, how often
o   Once or twice in my career,
o   Occasionally
o   All the times
11.3.2.  If no, explain why
N/A…………………………………………………………………………………………

11.4.        From your own perspective, which are the most crucial elements of an effective product launch event? Please list the first three in order of importance
11.4.1.1.1.1.1.  Branding
11.4.1.1.1.1.2.  The design of the events
11.4.1.1.1.1.3.  The choice of location on where to hold the events
11.5.        From you experience, does branding affect the effectiveness of product launch events?
 o   Yes                  o   No
Please explain
Where branding is done effectively during the launch, we experience a surge in sales of our products.
11.6.        In what ways does branding affect the event design and choice of decorations at product launch events?
The theme must reflect on the brand
The colours must be company colours
The mood created should portray the brand personality
11.7.        How crucial is the understanding of the concept of branding to the product launch events?
Very critical
11.8.        In branding which of the following brand positions are mostly used in your organization?
o    Product tangible attribute, (e.g. horsepower in cars, scent in perfumes, taste in food)
o Product intangible attributes, (e.g. user imagery, history, experiences, purchase and consumption imagery)
Explain
The products we offer appeal more to the imagery with people often desiring to feel good about themselves and the products
11.9.        Are the intangible attributes considered before or after the branding experience?
11.9.1.  If before, explain
………………………………………………………………………………
…………………………………………………………………………………………………..
11.9.2.  If after, explain ………………………………………………………………………………
…………………………………………………………………………………………………..
11.10.    Which attributes in a brand have you found to benefit the beauty and cosmetic product launch over a long time?
o    High quality,
o Upscale, 
o    Hip,
Explain
Looks and class go hand in hand and cosmetics serve this purpose for most people.
12.  Which of the following one or combination of brand personalities do you use when launching beauty and cosmetic products?
o   Sincerity,  
o Excitement,
o    Competence,
o Sophistication,
o   Ruggedness,
13.              How do the personalities identified affect the decision of beauty and cosmetic products event design and decoration, is it of strategic or tactical importance, explain?
N/A

14.              To what extent in your experience does the event design and decorations affect the creation of the following experiences in customers in the beauty and cosmetic industry? (1-very low, 2-low, 3-neutral, 4- high, 5-very high)

1
2
3
4
5
Sense experiences; sensory




Feel experiences; affect and emotions




Think experiences; creative and cognitive




Act experiences; lifestyles and behaviour




Relate experiences; connect with similar group





14.1.        Therefore from your experience, are decorations and beauty and cosmetic event designs determined by branding, explain?
Yes
14.2.        To what extent does branding have an impact on the beauty and cosmetic product launch and the image of the company in general, explain?
Branding affects how the company is perceived and it therefore has a great bearing on how the product is received in the market  
15.  Would you say that the launch events attended left a lasting impression on you?
Yes o                         No o
Please explain...................................................................................................................
16.  What component of the events impressed you the most? (Please rate in order of influence)

5
4
3
2
1
The location of the events





events' timing





interior designs





decoration colour themes





level of service during the events





the suitability of products





price discounts at the events






17.  Please explain briefly what impressed you most about the events attended (list three factors)
............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
18.  Was the use of branding easily recognisable in the event?
............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
19.  Would you say that branding was central to the product launch event attended?
............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
20.  Would you say that the events contributed to your brand awareness of the organisations and their products?
Yes    o                            No   o
Please explain...................................................................................................................
21.  Based on your experience at the product launch events, would you continue consuming the products displayed? 
Yes    o                            No   o
Please explain...................................................................................................................
Thank you




Questions for event organisers at MAC
1.      What event designs have been used most frequently and how effective were they in encouraging sales during and after the events? Which other designs have been under consideration and why were they not settled upon?
2.      What improvements to event designs (if any) would you propose? Why?
3.      How do you determine the target audience for the events? In your opinion, was this targeting accurate? If not, what improvements would you propose?
4.      What limitations have you faced when determining the appropriate targets for the product launch events?
5.      In which ways does the target groups arrived at affect the event designs? And what challenges have been faced in the designing of such events?
6.      Does the company follow up after the events to establish how effective such events were? In which ways? How effective were the follow-up tools and what improvements (if any) would you suggest?
7.      Does creativity in product launch events improve their impact? How?
8.      Does the company factor in branding in the design of product launch events? How?
9.      In your opinion, does this focus on branding lead to the effectiveness of the product launch events at MAC?
Questions for managers at MAC 
1.      What marketing theories are prevalent in the product launch events at MAC?
2.      What other approaches to marketing are embraced by MAC in addition to the use of product launch events?
3.      What brand image does MAC intend to project about their products?
4.      To what extent is the market aware of the MAC brand and how does this impact on the company’s market share?
5.      How important is the product-launch events to Brand awareness campaigns at MAC?
6.      What attributes of a brand do you think are most relevant to the consumers of cosmetic products and to what extent do you think MAC lives up to these expectations?
7.      What measures did you take to ensure good attendance of your events?


Question: What event designs have been used most frequently and how effective were they in encouraging sales during and after the events? Which other designs have been under consideration and why were they not settled upon?
Answer: We embrace different event designs depending on the products and the target market. For example, where we are targeting the young vibrant population, we can opt to place the events in an evening party setting.
The main design that we are yet to implement that we are considering seriously is the application of solutions in public places where booths are placed for all interested to access the services. So far, we have been hosting a predetermined list of guests.
Question: What improvements to event designs (if any) would you propose? Why?
Answer:  None that I can think of at the moment
Question: How do you determine the target audience for the events? In your opinion, was this targeting accurate? If not, what improvements would you propose?
Answer: The target audience is determined by the product and the persons who the products would serve best. We also tend to concentrate on attracting role models to our events and use their endorsements to ensure higher volumes of sales. Our targeting has been very accurate and it has been the reason behind the success of our events. However, it was a little challenging to get the contacts of the persons needed.
Question: What limitations have you faced when determining the appropriate targets for the product launch events?
Answer: whereas the targeting may have been accurate, we tend to have challenges in getting the targeted audience to attend especially where we lack their personal contacts or where they are out of reach for one reason or another.
Question: In which ways does the target groups arrived at affect the event designs? And what challenges have been faced in the designing of such events?
Answer: Most of our events have always been in common places that are accessible to most people through private and public means. Accessing our events has been quite easy for the target audience.
Question: Does the company follow up after the events to establish how effective such events were? In which ways? How effective were the follow-up tools and what improvements (if any) would you suggest?
The company conducts follows ups after the product launch events to ascertain their effectiveness. We do it in a number of ways: firstly, we monitor sales and find out if there were any noticeable changes in sales volumes from the time the events were launched. Secondly, we provide those who’d attended the events with special references to enable us track how frequently they buy out products.
These follow up tools have been fairly attractive although ways of improving them should be sought.
Question: Does creativity in product launch events improve their impact? How?
Yes. Creativity creates a big impact in events.
It helps provide an element of surprise and these surprises go a long way in making the events memorable.
Question: Does the company factor in branding in the design of product launch events? How?
Yes. The company bears in mind the brand at all times
Branding is used in decoration and the creation of an event them in order to reflect on the brand personality.
Question: In your opinion, does this focus on branding lead to the effectiveness of the product launch events at MAC?
Yes. We attribute the success of our product launch events to the accurate application of branding in the design and decoration.


Question: What marketing theories are prevalent in the product launch events at MAC?
Answer: At MAC we believe in consumer orientation where our focus is mainly aimed at delivering quality that satisfies changing consumer preferences from time to time. The product launch events are therefore designed with the preferences of our customers in mind with an aim to ensure they get pleasant experiences. 
We also ensure that our services and pricing remain competitive at all times in order to compete effectively; and especially during events in order to create a team of advocates for our products in the market.
Question: What other approaches to marketing are embraced by MAC in addition to the use of product launch events?
Answer: We also use advertisements through mass media and print media. Internet marketing is also used widely. We also do direct marketing through our highly skilled sales representatives.
Question: What brand image does MAC intend to project about their products?
Answer: Our main aim is to present our products are reliable and high quality products that are not only capable of producing physical benefits but also capable of uplifting the spirits of the users. In other words, an attempt to create a happy mood
Question: To what extent is the market aware of the MAC brand and how does this impact on the company’s market share?
Answer: The MAC brand is well known globally and this makes it easier for us to market our products with relative success. We have been consolidating our market share in recent months and are on the verge of creating strategies to make use of our strong brand to increase the market share. 
Question: How important is the product-launch events to Brand awareness campaigns at MAC?
Answer: We consider the product launch events as central to our brand awareness campaigns. The creation of unique experiences during product launch events helps in building unique relationships between our brand and the clientele in attendance.
Question: What attributes of a brand do you think are most relevant to the consumers of cosmetic products and to what extent do you think MAC lives up to these expectations?
Intangible attributes
With them, clients tend to be more loyal than with tangible attributes where one can easily switch to competitors’ products
Question: What measures did you take to ensure good attendance of your events?
Answer: Our product launch events are well publicised and those invited are notified well in advance. We also provide periodic reminders prior to the events to ensure that it is not forgotten. In some cases, we invite persons who are greatly revered by the target audience in order to attract them to the events. So far, our events are very well attended.






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