What is Experiential Marketing?
Experiential marketing is all about bringing a brand to life. In other words, adopting an experiential strategy means providing branded experiences that allow consumers to interact and engage with a brand in ways that can’t be achieved through traditional marketing avenues. This could mean something as simple as taking a photo to share on Instagram or as immersive as enjoying a branded VR experience. A successful experiential campaign should also reflect a brand’s values and central message, as well as provide long-lasting value to participating customers.
To illustrate the effectiveness of experiential marketing, Epsilon concluded that 80% of consumers will be more likely to make a purchase from a brand if they offer personalized experiences and 83% of people believe that experiences are a fundamental part of who we are as a global culture, according to a study conducted by Momentum Worldwide.
While experiential marketing can come in many forms, to create the most memorable and valuable branded experiences possible for a consumer, brands often turn to the magic of live events to provide that necessary spark. As event organisers, these events will often come together in a form similar to the experiences you create for your regular non-branded events.
Classes, workshops, and product showcases are all considered experiential marketing events. Yet, the most common way we think of experiential events are usually as either one-off events, such as Apple’s famous keynote, or can be part of a larger ongoing campaign, such as Stan’s Los Pollos Hermanos pop-up in Sydney to celebrate the release of Breaking Bad on the platform.
Before you finally dive into your experiential campaign, make sure you have clearly defined goals from the outset as well as establish KPIs to measure success to ensure the most bang for your buck at the end of the day!
To help give you a better idea of experiential marketing, check out some amazing examples that show you the endless possibilities of experiential marketing events:
Lovecraft Country Drive-in
Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, HBO held an event for the books as they took over Paramount Drive-In Theater in Los Angeles by transporting 500 guests into the 1950s setting straight out of its hit show, Lovecraft Country. The incredible set up included contactless concession stands, masked actors, a Lovecraft Country FM radio broadcast, and a fake Lovecraft Tourism Bureau business.
The Budweiser Beer Garage
As part of the 2016 SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas, an American beer brand, Budweiser, created a fully immersive experience to bring together hundreds of guests to celebrate the beer brand. The pop-up’s main attraction was a 4-D Immersive Reality Budweiser Brewery Tour, designed to give attendees a multi-sensory experience that combined sight, smell, hearing, and vision to immerse them into the Budweiser beer brewing process.
Women’s Health ‘Secret Sweats’ Series
In partnership with Clinique, Women’s Health Magazine launched a series of pop-up fitness events that saw 30 people participate in a high-intensity 45-minute workout, held in a secret Sydney location. The workout was held by a secret trainer straight from New York City.
House of Flamin Haute
Snack brand, Cheetos, dipped its orange-dusted fingertips into the fashion world by debuting a Guy Fieri-esque flame collection at New York Fashion Week. The Cheetos fashion show included not only a runway show, but a style bar experience complete with Cheetos-rimmed cocktails. Hundreds of people were waitlisted before the doors were opened, which even included a few celebrity VIPs.
Glenfiddich Whiskey Wanderer
Award-winning Scotch whiskey brand, Glenfiddich, created the first-ever luxury whiskey lounge on wheels when they transformed a Leyland Double Decker from 1972 to include a full-service bar, hydraulic pop-up roof alongside a glinting copper stag on the front. Bringing the single malt whiskey journey to life, the Whiskey Wanderer bus tour included stops along its journey for intimate tastings, selected food pairings, and chats about all things whiskey.
Netflix’s ‘The Irishman’ Little Italy Takeover
Working with the local businesses, Netflix took over eight blocks of New York City’s Little Italy neighborhood and transformed the area into the year of 1975 depicted in ‘The Irishman’ to celebrate the film’s release. Visitors and residents could use a Jimmy Hoffa password to score free food, sit in vintage Cadillacs and engage with the film’s characters through vintage phone booths. Netflix even went so far as to create custom ‘Irishman’ newspapers to round out the activation.
Where Is It Heading?
Experiential marketing was certainly booming prior to the pandemic, but with various lockdowns happening all over the world as well as the ban on in-person events taking place, the 2021 outlook is decidedly uncertain. Despite this, there are a few trends taking shape that should help inform your decision-making when it comes to experiential marketing events in the future.
Virtual events will continue to grow
Remember when virtual events used to be PowerPoint presentations? We’ve come a long way since then and we now regularly see virtual events taking place in studio-like settings with high production values alongside interactive tech. Expect these types of events to become even more present in our lives as well as the type of tech we see used (think virtual reality and augmented reality).
Hybrid events are new normal
Considered the way forward by many event organisers, it’s definitely best to start planning for a hybrid event future. Expect experiential marketing events to include hybrid elements (blending virtual and in-person) as a way of involving more event attendees to participate at a much lower cost.
Expect new forms of audience interactivity
Throughout the pandemic, gaming usage and viewership spiked, which led brands to take advantage of platforms such as Fortnite and League of Legends to host virtual events. We’ll still see current forms of audience interactivity, such as live chats, virtual breakout rooms, and polling, but expect brands to follow suit in capitalizing on the massive audience that these gaming platforms offer.
Have more questions on how Humanitix can help you host your next event? Feel free to speak with a human at Humanix!
Em Meller lives and works in Sydney, Australia on the unceded lands of the Gadigal people. Her work has appeared in places like The Lifted Brow, Cordite, and Going Down Swinging. She has studied creative writing at the University of Technology, Sydney, and at Oxford University.