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What's the Deal with Experiential Marketing?

Experience Experiential Marketing

“Experiential marketing.”

You’ve probably heard that term before, right?

“Yet another form of marketing,” you may be thinking.

But wait! Before you scoff and close this tab, let us give you a comprehensive breakdown as to what this form of advertising entails. We promise, it’s a fun one!

Experiential marketing, or engagement marketing, is a marketing strategy that directly engages consumers and encourages them to participate in a brand experience. At its core, this form of marketing is based on creating memorable and innovative customer experiences that are aimed to create and cultivate deep connections between the consumers and the brand. Using participatory, hands-on and tangible branding material allows brands to show not just what the company offers, but what it stands for.

Typically, in traditional marketing, consumers are viewed as passive receivers of a company’s message. However, in experiential marketing, a brand integrates and involves the consumer directly, providing them a window into the evolution and progression of an advertising campaign. Through this process, brand loyalty and relationships are forged.

Experiential marketing sounds a bit like event marketing, right? This makes sense– experiential campaigns do tend to be more event-centric. However, there are also times when they have no affiliation with a specific event. An event-centric campaign is dedicated less to the type of the event (like a festival, concert, conference, etc) and is more concerned about the interactions that occur between the brand and the consumer.

Don’t Doubt It

“Ok, and? Is it effective?”

Yes. 100%.

Experiential marketing is extremely effective due to the fact that humans are emotional beings. When a brand seeks to connect with us emotionally, not only do we have a higher tendency to buy the product or service in question, but we transform into loyal customers, too. By involving your audiences and consumers with the story, they feel connected and appreciated, as opposed to feeling as though they are being sold to. This results in a significant difference in relation to how they perceive your brand.

Additionally, the collection and analysis of consumer data is critical for business. Marketers and advertisers need data about consumers to understand where they should reach their target audiences, as well as how they should go about reaching them effectively. Therefore, Big Data is an integral part of experiential marketing. Experiential marketing gives consumers the chance to learn about products and brands while simultaneously enjoying the experience; those consumers are willing to exchange their personal information as the admission price to an event that they desire to attend.

Data is essential to experiential marketing’s return on investment. Big Data provides tools that enable the delivery of real-time data and actionable insights, in turn allowing brands to be more agile when it comes to making changes to messages, creating greater value and increasing immediate consumer engagement.

One of marketing’s main goals is to educate consumers about a certain product or service. This is something that we already know. However, this only truly works when the consumer is engaged. Many go out of their way to avoid commercials, yet most will also go out of their way to experience something novel and exciting. By tying your brand to an immersive ad fun experience, consumers are more likely to receive the message that you are seeking to convey. 65% of consumers say that live events and product demonstrations helped them fully grasp a product better than any commercial or other method ever could.

Therefore, this marketing experience is crucial for a brand that desires to convert their consumers from passive viewers to proactive participants.

Case Study Time

Time for some examples, perhaps?

Overall, experiential marketing could include pop-up stores, co-branding, solo experiences, product demonstrations, product sampling, tours, conferences and classes/workshops.

For example, Apple’s Genius Bar exhibits a product demonstration experience whenever Apple's technical staff helps customers learn how to use its products. This approach will not work for retailers such as Walmart who sell electronics, for Apple has positioned the in-store experience and their Genius Bar appointments as being crucial for its premium brand strategy.

Snapchat took a unique approach to launching their high-tech sunglasses in 2016. Instead of following traditional methods of marketing (such as publishing new online store pages), the brand placed cartoon-esque on-brand, yellow vending machines outside of their headquarters in Venice Beach. Hundreds of individuals lined up for hours to virtually try on and buy a pair of these sunglasses. This experience was also bolstered by the usage of augmented reality at the kiosk. Following in-theme with the app, the machine would vanish and move to a different location every 24 hours. Audiences had to check the website for clues as to where the machine would magically appear next. This experience exhibited limited availability and barriers to purchase, therefore making consumers desire something they couldn’t have. Utilizing this captivating strategy inherently allowed the “hype” around this product to skyrocket.

Chipotle and other brands are claiming territory and launching their own experiences within the Metaverse. On April 7, 2022, for National Burrito Day, Chipotle launched a Burrito Builder game on Roblox that enabled players to earn an in-game currency. The first 10,000 players to roll a burrito earned the equivalent of a free entree in the Chipotle app. Therefore, Chipotle is playing to their younger audience and their interests in online gaming while simultaneously creating an association with new technology that allows their brand to appear “fresh.” Connecting virtual experiences to the real-world, in general, is an up-and-coming strategy for brand activations.

In the Grand Scheme of Things

Ultimately, experiential marketing has the ability to transform and elevate the connections that brands build with their consumers; this is becoming increasingly more imperative as consumers demand for more personalization. Marketing and advertising campaigns should boast integrated qualities that unify all of their chosen platforms and executions into a cohesive message. Experiential marketing helps aid in just that. Overall, experiential marketing increases brand awareness for consumers, leading into purchase consideration for some. By immersing your consumers into your brand, you will be able to remain top-of-mind for audiences that choose to participate.

It won’t be long before every industry catches up and chooses to employ this marketing tactic. The Ward Group knows a thing or two about spreading a brand’s message, so pairing your experiential marketing with our media expertise will enable your business to rise above your competition. Contact us today and begin your advertising journey!

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