Consumers have made it clear that, for the most part, commercials just don’t do it for them anymore. They can fast-forward through TV spots with their DVR, avoid commercials altogether with Netflix and Amazon Video, and use ad blockers to keep ads from popping up on their laptops and mobile screens.
So, what’s a marketing exec gotta do to connect with these elusive quarries? It turns out the best way to reach consumers in an emotional and engaging way is to create experiences that they actually want to be a part of.
Better Experiences for Consumers and Brands
The goal of experiential marketing is to create lasting impressions on consumers that they want to share with others and that, ultimately, lead to brand loyalty. You’re not advertising a product — you’re letting consumers see and feel what their lives would be like with it. You’re creating an association between your brand and those positive vibes.
A Freeman Global Brand Experience Study reports that a third of CMOs plan to devote 21-50 percent of their budget to experiential marketing efforts over the next several years. If the same efforts aren’t already a big part of your brand’s marketing strategy, then they should be, and these three benefits are the main reasons why:
Lasting Connections With Consumers
Many of the largest brands have already begun building lasting connections with their consumers through experiential marketing, and the best strategies are those that extend beyond shopping. For example, American Express’s AI tennis game at the 2017 U.S. Open let eventgoers enhance their experience while associating American Express with something besides tickets and souvenir purchases.
Similarly, the NFL uses experiential marketing to make sure ticketholders get their money’s worth in and out of the stadium, especially for big-money events like the Super Bowl. For example, the 2017 Super Bowl in Houston became a city-wide experience, from touchpoints at the stadium to projection shows and Super Bowl-themed decorations at Houston’s Discovery Green Park.
As part of the marketing team responsible for the endeavor, bluemedia helped buildings throughout the city display similar Super Bowl themes. R.J. Orr, executive vice president, notes that “Each asset was designed to keep fans, players, guests of the NFL, and even Houston’s own residents excited about the game ahead.” For consumers, it was an experience that began before the event and lasted long afterward.
More Data in the Moment
When it comes to any form of marketing, knowledge really is power, which is why collecting and analyzing consumer data has become a top priority for most businesses. Marketers need data about consumers to know where and how to reach them most effectively. Product developers need data to know which products appeal most to consumers. Business leaders need data to steer the direction of their companies.
Big data is also an integral part of experiential marketing. Experiential marketing gives consumers the chance to learn about products and brands while also enjoying the experience. And those consumers are willing to exchange personal info as the admission price to an event or experience they want to attend.
For Sue Duris, director of marketing and customer experience at M4 Communications, that data is essential to experiential marketing’s ROI. She believes “Big data is providing the tools to deliver real-time data and actionable insights, which enable brands to be more agile to make changes to messaging, create more value, and increase consumer engagement on the spot.”
An Active Understanding of Your Product
One of marketing’s main goals is to educate consumers about a product, and that only works if the consumer is engaged. Most people go out of their way to avoid commercials, yet most will also go out of their way for a new experience. That’s why experiential marketing works so well. Tie your brand or product to a fun experience, like a live event, and consumers are more likely to get the message.
In fact, about 65% of consumers say that live events and product demonstrations helped them fully understand a product better than any commercial or other method could. MasterCard and Swarovski have capitalized on that fact with a virtual shopping experience that gives customers the chance to see what Swarovski’s luxury décor items would look like in a home setting — and to purchase them while within the virtual environment.
Brett Hyman, NVE Experience Agency president, says luxury brands and other sectors are using experiential marketing to transform the customer experience: “Well-executed experiential activations turn consumers from passive viewers to active participants.”
Experiential marketing has the ability to transform and elevate the connections that brands build with their consumers, and that’s becoming increasingly important as consumers demand more personalization. With the benefits mentioned above and the many more that experiential marketing offers, it won’t be long before every industry catches up.