Give tours of your company
In experiments, people were up to 85% more likely to recommend and 32% more likely to buy a company’s products after a tour. Tours must be educational and enjoyable.
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Probably one of the most compelling moments of the movie Charlie and the chocolate factory is when Willy Wonka gives a tour of the factory.
And many companies give tours in real life. Some even do virtual tours.
But what effect do they have?
Do they change what people think of the brand? Do they increase sales?
Let’s look at what this scientific study in the Journal of Consumer Behaviour found.
P.S.: Enjoy this Macallan Whisky 360° tour on YouTube for some inspiration (especially if you like listening to a soothing Scottish accent)
Company tours boost purchase intentions and word of mouth
Channels: Marketing strategy | Brand strategy
For: B2C. Can be tested for B2B
Research date: July 2022
Give customers or potential customers a tour of your company (e.g. your history, how you make products or deliver your services).
The tour must be educational and fun. Give interesting information that people are unlikely to know and teach something new.
Try to focus on people that aren’t yet familiar with you for maximum effect.
Pro tip: You can also experiment with interactive videos or VR tours that work at scale, but do so carefully. They were not tested in this research.
People who take company tours are more likely to buy and spread positive word of mouth about the company. The tour must be educational and enjoyable for the effect to work properly. Boring tours won’t cut it.
In an experiment, incoming students that went on a very educational tour of their university (explaining the campus, corporate partners, future plans, challenges, opportunities, and more) said they were:
85% more likely to talk about and recommend the university than those that didn’t take a tour
69% more likely to recommend it than those that took a tour that wasn’t very educational or interesting (only information about the campus)
In another experiment, researchers surveyed people before or after they took a brewery tour and compared answers. Those that already took the tour said they were:
24% more likely to recommend the brand compared to those that hadn’t taken the tour yet
32% more to buy the brand
The effect is strongest for new customers that aren’t very familiar with a company. It’s weaker for loyal customers that already know the brand well.
The effect’s strength changes based on how familiar people already are with a brand
🧠 Why it works
Company tours are experiences that teach us a lot about a company’s products in an interactive and immersive way.
This boosts our knowledge and enjoyment of the brand.
The effect is stronger when we aren’t very familiar with a company because we learn more from the tour, and this gives a strong feeling of satisfaction and enjoyment
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This study focused on B2C. Researchers in the past looked into the positive effects of tours in B2B, but these were not extensively tested. Tours should work in a B2B setting too, but the effects may be different.
The researchers did not test the effect of virtual tours such as videos or VR. It’s unclear whether they have the same or a similar effect.
The experiments measured word of mouth and purchase intentions but not actual behavior. This means the results are still valid but not as solid.
🏢 Companies using this
“World of Coca-Cola” in Atlanta has attracted more than 24 million visitors.
The Macallan distillery in Scotland has in person tours but has also experimented with VR tours and even a 4D experience in Grand Central Station in New York.
Other notable examples include Harley Davidson's “Steel Toe” tour, Steinway & Sons' piano factory tour, and The Heineken Experience in Amsterdam.
In 2021 more than 500 companies offered in-person tours to the public in the US alone.
⚡ Steps to implement
Make a cost-benefit analysis of what a tour would cost you (e.g. planning, staffing) and decide whether it’s worth the advantages (more sales and word of mouth), counting the number of people it will reach.
Make your tour as interesting as possible. For example, craft compelling stories from your history or teach how your product is made and how it’s different from others. Include the people that create or deliver your product to make it feel personal and human.
Experiment with taking things further to see if you can benefit from this effect more at scale. For example:
Film a VR version of a physical tour
Tell stories about what your employees do on your social media channels
Repurpose material from your employer branding if you have it - such as what it’s like to work at your company or the founder’s story
🔍 Study type
Field experiment (with 226 incoming students of a large European university) and market observation (survey of 131 people who took a brewery tour)
“Pulling back the curtain”: Company tours as a customer education tool and effects on pro‐brand behaviors. Journal of Consumer Behaviour (July 2022).
Xiaochi Sun. Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Thomas Foscht. University of Graz
René Hubert Kerschbaumer. University of Graz
Andreas B. Eisingerich. Imperial College London
Remember: This is a new scientific discovery. In the future it will probably be better understood and could even be proven wrong (that’s how science works). It may also not be generalizable to your situation. If it’s a risky change, always test it on a small scale before rolling it out widely.
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