In the age of social media, experiential marketing can make your brand go viral. It’s what will truly catch the eyes of movers, shakers, and influencers to put your brand on the map.
A recent study found that more than 3 in 4 millennials (78%) would choose to spend money on experience or event rather than on buying something desirable, and 55% of millennials say they’re spending more on events and live experiences than ever before (Harris Group).
Although the statistic sounds like bad news for retail brands (primarily focused on selling products vs. experiences), it’s actually opened up an innovative new way of marketing products through community events, pop-up shops, and in-person classes.
What is Experiential Marketing?
Experiential marketing is a type of marketing that directly engages or immerses a target audience in a live event. Also referred to as “live marketing,” “participation marketing,” or sometimes “brand activation,” experiential marketing gets your customers involved in your brand or product and lets them experience it in real time.
Here’s a good example of how experiential marketing works:
At SXSW a few years back, the A&E show Bates Motel put on an experiential marketing event in a real-life Austin-area hotel.
They rebranded the entire hotel: festival-goers could “check in,” talk to staff and even stay the night. The rooms featured elements from the TV show, and posters of missing characters covered the walls. The experience allowed people to truly feel what Bates Motel was all about. In the end, the event brought thousands of press mentions and even more exposure to the show, which was just heading into its third season.
Why is Experiential Marketing Successful?
What is it about experiential marketing that makes it so successful? Obviously, events like the Bates Motel campaign require vast amounts of resources. Why would showrunners be willing to invest so much in a short-lived marketing event? There are a few factors that make experiential marketing stand out from other strategies:
Experiential Marketing draws in media, bloggers, and all those who want to share the best content with their followers. This exposure translates to more awareness for the brand.
Nike Launches Exclusive Air Max 270 Pop-Up Stores in Paris Suburbs: (www.highsnobiety.com)
This particular Nike pop-up in Paris (featured above) was hosted by an affiliate of the French rap group, PNL, and actor, Lucas, in March 2018 for one afternoon to promote Nike’s new line of Air Max 270 colorways.
These events can turn participants into veritable word-of-mouth marketers for the brand. When participants post photos on Instagram or Facebook, when they text a friend to stop by and see it for themselves, or when they talk about the experience over the water cooler the next day, they’re passing that brand name on to others and further adding exposure.
Experiential marketing is not just a marketing message shouted from the rooftops, but instead a two-way conversation – something the consumer can see, hear, touch and feel. It allows the consumer to really understand a brand inside and out and even become a part of that brand.
Image: Aloha Beach Club
Examples of Top Brands Using Experiential Marketing:
There are tons of great experiential marketing companies out there. The best events are not just one-time events that come and go, they’re campaigns that keep on giving.
A good example is the Outpost – an experiential marketing pop-up put on by The Participation Agency. Located in El Paso, Texas, the Outpost is a rest stop designed for touring bands that come through the area. It’s stocked with curated brands and products designed just for musicians and their on-the-road needs. For band members who have to use bare-bones gas stations and rest stops for months on end, the Outpost is a welcome sight – and one they’ll share heavily on social media.
Every year, Target hosts their overwhelmingly popular private shopping event “Back to College” for incoming college freshmen. Throughout the months of August and September, the company will bus in 155,000 students from 66 different universities and colleges to their local Target store. Inside the event, there are DJs playing while students browse hundreds of top beauty products, late night snacks, designer threads, and school supplies during the off-campus excursions. Target also raffles off coupons and prizes including a year’s supply of pizza, a Sony 32” television, and Target Gift Cards.
Also known as “The Millennials’ Estee Lauder”, Glossier teamed up with the famous Rhea’s Cafe in the Mission District for one month to host their first pop-up makeup store in San Francisco.The entire cafe was remodeled to welcome the beauty line with a fresh coat of light pink paint and chic new furniture to appeal to Glossier’s youthful audience.
Another great example is JetBlue’s “Icebreaker” challenge in New York a few years ago. To celebrate its new direct flight from NYC to Palm Springs, Florida, the airline froze summer accessories in large ice blocks. Passersby could stop, chip away at the ice with whatever tools they had on them, and claim any prize they could get out of the ice. There were even free plane tickets in there!
Disney’s Doc McStuffin check-up campaign is also a good example. This event allowed kids to play doctor on various stuffed animals. While waiting for their turn, they played with Doc McStuffin themed toys and books, and even received a free Doc gift. When all was said and done, the event exposed the Doc McStuffin TV show to nearly 8,000 more children (and their parents).
In 2016, the company opened a temporary store in SoHo called Harry’s Bartershop, allowing consumers to “barter” their razor blades (including competing brands like Gillette), in exchange for Harry’s new razors and shaving products.
Last summer, Dirty Lemon (famous for being one of the first brands to sell their products exclusively via text message) opened up “The Drug Store”, an alcohol-free bar in Nolita, NYC.
Modeled after a 1920s soda shop, the bar scheme helped to drive new customers, build brand awareness, and educate thirsty shoppers on the health benefits of their famous low-calorie beverage.
Athleisure brand Lululemon regularly hosts free yoga and fitness classes in many of its stores across the globe.
Each year, Backpacker Magazine hosts “Get Out More”, an event featuring more than 45 outdoor equipment retailers and speakers, who share their latest outdoor experiences and expert gear tips.
You get the gist: the key to great experiential marketing is finding something to both entertain and involve consumers, so that they share your brand and remember their experience.
Your goal is to create brand advocates: people excited to do business with you and share it with the world.
Are you ready to elevate your brand through the power of experiential marketing? Wizard Studios can make it happen!
This content was originally published here.