Experiential Marketing came back with vengeance after COVID-19: Prerna Uppal

Sneha Medda
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Prerna Uppal

Prerna Uppal gives insights on how KidZania is incorporating technology into its marketing mix and giving a 'phygital' touch to the consumer experience.

As the pandemic restrictions were lifted, brands that heavily relied on experiential marketing found a fresh beginning for themselves. For KidZania, the Edutainment brand the case was similar. The edutainment sector has recently seen a boost with brands taking initiatives to engage with families, schools and kids in general. 

In conversation with Social Samosa, Prerna Uppal, Chief Partnership Officer of KidZania India talks about the brand’s marketing strategy, how the brand approaches its TG, the future of experiential marketing and more insights in this brief chat. 

Edited Excerpts: 

There's been a rise in Edutainment content in the past few years. How does KidZania leverage this aspect into its marketing model?

KidZania is all about Edutainment. As far as content goes, everything we do surrounds promoting the role-plays we have for our visitors. Using our flagship experiences, we branch off into on-ground programs that help us make viral content to draw as many families as possible. Also, we use our concept to create some engaging School Contact programs that help us take KidZania on wheels to areas in our country where kids get exposed to the power of our experience that fuels their creativity and inspires them to learn.

Further, we collaborate with our brand partners to keep our visitors excited – our recent Kinder Joy Treat Factory – “The Natoons Metaverse Safari”. Through this hybrid activation, not only kids but even young parents had fun, and learnt about animals and the values of respecting nature and all its creatures, celebrating World Animals Day.

How has brand integration played a role in KidZania's marketing mix?

Brand integrations go beyond our marketing mix and are woven into the very fabric of the KidZania concept. You go to a Kinder Joy Factory as a food engineer to understand how the brand acquired its magical chocolate treats or what goes into the making of the legendary Parle G biscuit or even experience the power of banking through IDFC FIRST bank where kids can open their account and own their very own debit card – even withdraw from IDFC FIRST Bank’s ATMs in KidZania. “Art imitates Life” because when kids work for brands they understand the accountability and responsibility that goes into bringing some of their favourite brands to life. This adds value to parents, which in turn leads to purchasing power, builds strong brand salience and families become your brand ambassadors for life. We are an ecosystem for brands where we influence the present to create strong brand equity for the future.

With KidZania's target audience group lying in the 5-15 age bracket, how difficult is it to grab their attention?

The KidZania experience is founded and grounded in the art of storytelling. The key is not to preach but to demonstrate through action with an accompanying narrative. We also ensure that our experience narratives don’t go beyond 20 – 25 minutes and our masterstroke is in creating a powerful hands-on experience where kids perform while they learn and not learn first and then perform.

You can literally smell the Parle G essence in the biscuit factory; each piece of machinery is moving and is created in such a fashion that transports you into the narrative which in turn, stimulates the imagination. Kids begin living their roles and the theory of relativity takes over – where within a span of 20 -25 mins, our visitors learn some of the most complex aspects of adult-like roles.

Experiential marketing is a key element in KidZania's marketing model. With the entire experiential marketing industry witnessing a sudden low during the pandemic, how has it revived post that?

I think it was back with a vengeance. You see, KidZania is an indoor theme park. We are giving you the thrill of a ride with your feet on the ground and your head in the clouds alongside an air-conditioned environment where it’s sanitized. Also, we have already restricted capacity built in our experiences which not only serves our goal for individual attention that ensures optimum learning but also works with the new Covid protocols of social distancing. We were the biggest gainers post-pandemic; we crossed our pre-Covid visitation numbers within the first month of reopening, and moreover, our in-bound school visitations have been phenomenal. We retained our pre-covid partnerships with 14 brand partners and signed up 6 new brands and launched them in 2022. 2023 is looking even more exciting with some great partnerships that will be unveiled soon.

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In the past, the brand has heavily engaged with influencers and bloggers. Tell us how this has helped the brand.

We still engage with the blogger community. They are our organic and natural partners. And we serve all our mommy bloggers and their children with the best experiences. This community is a loyal and strong marketing force where we are guided by our mutual love for family and learning. We are a relationship-based platform be it with our visitors, our brand partners or our bloggers.

Social media has helped to develop digital engagement-driven content for our parent community and interact with them. We have seen a strong direct connection between our marketing and our visitations making it a crucial element in our marketing plans.

What are some changing consumer patterns that you have witnessed?

We have noticed a very strong shift in the usage of digital devices with our visitors. Especially with the rise of virtual learning, meetings, and gaming during the lockdown period and now with the Metaverse coming in hot, we have begun introducing technology into so many of our upcoming new experiences.

What does KidZania's marketing plan for 2023 look like?

We look forward to having an exciting year for all our visitors with more interesting experiences on their way to being launched. Marketing will play a key role in reaching out to more families, schools and brand partners. It will be a mix of ATL mediums like OOH, Print and Radio, and Digital platforms.

experiential marketing KidZania edutainment Phygital