Experiential marketing is essential to any modern branding strategy. It provides customers with the meaningful interactions and personalized experiences they crave. In other words, it allows consumers to be a part of your brand and can cultivate loyalty and influence buying decisions. And when done correctly, EM can even help you generate additional attention both in the media and online.
How Can Experiential Marketing Help Retail Businesses?
Unlike online or traditional marketing efforts that take time to build brand awareness, experiential marketing (EM) is a uniquely fast and effective way to connect with customers through face-to-face experiences. It engages all the senses and ignites emotions to create lasting memories that, in turn, drive brand loyalty.
EM invites customers to meet brands in person rather than force them into the role of observer. Radio, newspaper, and TV ads are crafted in the hopes that a message will resonate with audience members. But EM is an interactive experience that can have a substantially more significant influence on customers. They get to know a brand, its character, and the people behind it.
Why It Works
Consumer behaviors are changing, a fact we can attribute in part to social media. People today see a meaningful and happy life as one focused on experiences they can share online.
To illustrate, a Harris Group study shows more than 70% of millennials prefer to spend money on experiences rather than material goods. And they’re happy to pay to participate in exciting, memorable events that range from parties and food festivals to concerts and fine arts shows.
Giving Customers What They Want
EM fulfills modern consumer needs by giving them opportunities to create content that can be posted to popular platforms. Sampling makeup in a retail store, for instance, provides plenty of photo opportunities. In the meantime, brands garner free advertising from the frenzy of social media sharing that ensues.
EM also helps consumers feel included, like they’re part of a brand’s extended family. Finally, it improves brand value in a way that trying to influence customers from a remote position cannot match.
A Few Statistics
EM delivers a desired human touch, and statistics confirm its power. A study from the Event Marketing Institute finds 72% of consumers see brands from a positive perspective when they provide quality event opportunities. That same study also shows 74% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a brand after attending marketing events.
Real-Life Retail Examples
Brands ranging in size from large to small understand live events are critical to their company’s success. Orvis, for example, is an apparel and gear company that also sells outdoor activity classes. L.L. Bean offers similar educational classes in addition to camping trips. Both witness a surge in sales immediately before and after each of their events, realizing as much as a 30% increase in profits.
The success of these two brands demonstrates EM may be even more powerful than influencer marketing. EM brings everyone – customers and influencers alike – together in one place. It eliminates the need to manage influencer giveaways and outreach. Experiential events also eschew long analytical hours needed to determine if an influencer partnership benefitted the brand.
Crafting a Vibrant Landscape for Consumers
EM can benefit more than traditional clothing retailers. A wine purveyor in New York City has created a wine-themed playground that adults can enjoy as they sip on rosé variations from across the world. Pantone, which provides a color standardization system for industries like printing and graphic design, created a pop-up cafe in Monaco. The small menu features food in Pantone’s signature colors and has proven to be a hit with all who visit.
The point is that companies can create a new buzz on social media, and similarly connect with customers, by implementing well-planned experiential marketing strategies. These occasions can bring a brand to life. And marketing managers have a whole catalog of appealing events to choose from, including:
- Educational classes
- Food and beverage tastings
- Pop-up shops
- Community Events
- Event series, like a book club
- Trade shows
- In-store experiences
The Benefits of EM for Retailers
EM is a great way to drive word-of-mouth marketing. Event attendees often talk about their experiences with friends, and as mentioned earlier, they’re sure to post photos on social media. This chatter helps generate interest in your brand and the products you promoted at the event.
Offline events also provide an opportunity to receive immediate customer data and feedback. You can see first-hand how consumers interact with your services and products as well as ask real-time questions to understand how you might improve future offerings. Events additionally provide a chance to gather customer information that can be used for later marketing campaigns, such as direct email.
Build a Sense of Community
The engagement loop created by an offline event helps build a sense of customer community. We already know consumers want to feel like they’re part of a brand. A strong sense of community helps reinforce the loyalty that experiential marketing jumpstarts. Crafting an audience around your brand also keeps consumers engaged between events and unites people who share similar interests.
A crowded market can make it difficult for any brand to rise above the competition. EM provides a break from the ordinary and nabs the attention of consumers. Nearly every brand has a digital marketing strategy, but few capitalize on the power of EM. When you harness this power and use memorable events to position your brand as edgy and creative, you find a real opportunity to scale.
Gain Media Attention
Launching a bold EM initiative can effectively grab the media’s attention, meaning you’ll gain coveted press coverage for your event. Media outlets are eager to cover big and daring events because they appeal to audiences. The bolder your campaign is, the better your chances of earning coverage.
Why Your Brand Needs EM
Researchers estimated in 2017 that nearly one-third of all Internet users would choose to use some type of ad blocker within the next five years. This means online advertising may become even more problematic, and it’s already tough because the market is so crowded. Brands must therefore start thinking outside of the box now, before their marketing campaigns hit a dead-end.
Improves Customer Acquisition
We’ve already established that experiential campaigns and in-store events are more efficient, and far more rewarding, than a standard Google ads campaign. That’s because these events stick in customers’ minds and generate something even more important than word-of-mouth promotion: customer acquisition. And this happens much more quickly than the traditional sales funnel required with digital advertising.
Increases Purchase Intent
Studies confirm that EM can increase customer purchase intention. People are profoundly influenced by emotional, associative, and sensory experiences and are more likely to rate a product or service as “positive” following a branding event.
It’s important to understand that value resides in more than the functional benefits of a product. It also exists in the hedonic elements surrounding a product, and companies that successfully manage these aspects can achieve a great competitive advantage. In other words, crafting a unique and engaging marketing experience can influence a customer’s intent to purchase.
Creates More Value for Consumers
EM is a great way to build value for consumers. It allows customers to see how products can be used to the greatest advantage, and with this comes increased desirability. Television shopping networks have capitalized on this concept beautifully for many decades. They demonstrate the positive impacts a product can have on a person’s life, and that product suddenly becomes irresistible. EM can have the same effect.
What EM Is Not
A quick online search will reveal any number of definitions for EM, but we prefer to think of it as a marketing strategy that deeply engages customers with a brand. This does not mean, however, EM is just another term for experience marketing. EM refers to interactions that occur in an offline settering, whereas experience marketing covers the entire customer experience, whether that occurs online or not.
A Synonym for Event Marketing
It’s equally important to understand EM is more than event marketing. Events like trade shows, conferences, and in-store sampling are individual channels of EM each used to achieve a specific goal.
EM encompasses the many elements that go into planning and executing these events with success. This means that experiential marketing, if done correctly, considers the expectations of event participants as well as current consumer behaviors. It is a much broader initiative that ultimately aims to humanize brands.
A Solution That Can Be Developed Without Effort
If EM could be quickly and easily implemented, more companies might include it in their annual marketing plans. But EM is not a silver bullet. It is comprised of real-time, one-on-one interactions that give consumers an inside look into a brand’s character. This means every element must be carefully considered with the right strategy, people, and process.
The time and effort you invest in EM will be highly rewarding. It provides an exciting way to meet the people buying and using your products. But these campaigns, as you likely noticed, also require a strong command of event planning. That’s where we come in, with our ability to ensure every detail is accounted for and executed. Contact King Sixteen today and plan your next event with a team of dedicated professionals.