According to modern-day business concepts, social media marketing has become the most effective form of marketing. This is true to a great extent, but it is important to note that the majority of customers still prefer personal experience before making a purchase.
In fact, they even want to experience a product or service before even buying it. That is why experiential marketing holds unprecedented importance in the contemporary marketing world.
What is experiential marketing? Why is it important for businesses? What are its benefits? Let’s find out the answers.
What is Experiential Marketing? Experiential Marketing Definition
Experiential marketing, in simplest words, is a type of marketing in which a business provides its potential customers with real-life experiences of its products, services, or brand. The primary objectives of experiential marketing are
- Building understanding
- Create awareness
- Increase product or service sales
This form of marketing uses engaging and interactive tactics to establish immersive and unforgettable experiences, facilitating the brand to:
- Convey its value proposition and core principles to customers.
- Build enduring relationships with customers.
Experiential marketing has become a key strategy for major brands with substantial budgets for marketing. Prominent players in various sectors, such as Nike, Volkswagen, and Sprite, are actively embracing this approach.
Almost 1/3rd (29%) of businesses use experiential marketing for their products, services, or brand awareness. Similarly, experiential events generate an impressive conversion rate of 12.7%.
Why Experiential Marketing is Important for Businesses?
For starters, experiential marketing has the highest success ratio (38%) among other marketing strategies. Also, experiential marketing boosts sales for 65% of brand owners.
Here is why experiential marketing is important for businesses.
a) Experiential Marketing Goes Beyond Traditional Advertising
Experiential marketing is important for businesses as it goes beyond traditional advertising by creating immersive, memorable experiences for consumers.
This approach engages customers on a personal level, nurturing emotional connections with the brand. It allows individuals to interact with products or services firsthand to build trust and loyalty, influencing purchasing decisions.
b) Experiential Marketing is Distinguishable
In a saturated market, where consumers are bombarded with information, experiential marketing sets a brand apart.
It provides a tangible and sensory experience that leaves a lasting impression, making the brand more memorable and shareable.
The positive emotions associated with these experiences often lead to word-of-mouth promotion, strengthening the brand’s reach and impact.
c) Experiential Marketing Gives Pre-Purchase Product Experience
Experiential marketing allows businesses to showcase product features in real-life scenarios, addressing potential concerns and building confidence in the brand’s offerings.
This form of marketing also fosters a sense of community, bringing like-minded individuals together through shared experiences.
- It is important to note that experiential marketing and event marketing are two distinguishable terms. Let us clear the difference between these two before we move forward.
What is the Difference between Event Marketing and Experiential Marketing?
Event marketing and experiential marketing have a lot of similarities, but they are different in various aspects. Here is how:
1) Experiential Marketing goes Beyond Events
Experiential marketing goes beyond events, including online engagement, personalized strategies, and advertising campaigns. For example, have a look at this experiential campaign from Coca-Cola.
2) Customer Engagement and Communication
Event marketing focuses on conveying a brand’s objectives to the audience through promotional events. In contrast, experiential marketing prioritizes two-way communication. It allows customers not only to absorb the brand’s perspective but also to respond and engage.
3) Collective Vs. Subjective Experience
Event marketing creates a collective experience, treating all customers as a general audience and neglecting subjectivity. In contrast, experiential marketing offers individualized and subjective experiences to each customer.
4) The objective of both Marketing Approaches differ
The primary goal of event marketing is to promote an activity, service, or product under the brand’s umbrella. Experiential marketing aims to enhance the brand’s image among various stakeholders.
Let’s take an example to understand the difference between both.
Brand ‘A’ and brand ‘B’ each strategized the introduction of their latest smartphones to the market. Brand ‘A’ structured an elaborative product launch, inviting customers, competitors, and media representatives to the event.
The brand unveiled the new product, highlighting its features, and concluded the event with expressions of gratitude toward the company’s director and associates.
On the other hand, brand ‘B’ opted for a different approach by organizing a product launch event that focused on experiential marketing. During this event, all company employees wore matching T-shirts, actively engaged with customer queries, and sought feedback on recent product purchases. The event also included a meet-and-greet lunch for all attendees.
- Brand ‘A’ embraced event marketing, while brand ‘B’ pursued an experiential marketing strategy.
Types of Experiential Marketing Campaigns—Experiential Marketing Strategies
There are four different types of experiential marketing campaigns.
1. Event Marketing
Event marketing is a widely accepted strategy for experiential marketing. The concept focuses on generating awareness for a specific event and requires an active marketing strategy to do that.
The goal is to maximize the outreach, ensuring that a broad audience is informed about the event with accurate information.
In order to engage the potential participants, it is important to provide essential details such as the nature of the event, its attendees, expectations, and the enjoyable experiences it offers.
2. Pop-up Shops
Pop-up events are everywhere today, from pop-up clothing stores to restaurants. They are a fun way to catch people off guard and create brand awareness.
Pop-up shops offer a unique chance to engage potential customers with entertaining product demonstrations, either for free or at a low cost.
These temporary stores allow creativity and experimentation with storefronts, merchandising, and product offerings. Limited edition products at pop-up shops can attract more people seeking exclusive opportunities.
3. Guerilla Marketing Campaigns
Guerrilla marketing campaigns are surprising and attention-grabbing events aimed at engaging people through unconventional methods. These campaigns work best when they offer benefits, prizes, or challenges for participants.
Despite their seemingly spontaneous nature, effective guerrilla marketing requires careful planning. The success of such marketing campaigns allows for their repetition if the right opportunities and target audience are identified.
For instance, when targeting a college campus, the product or service should align with the preferences and affordability of the age group present. The key is to strategically choose when and where to execute these events for maximum impact.
4. Brand Activation
Brand activation is a key aspect of marketing that involves establishing a personalized connection between the brand and the customer. It plays a crucial role in showcasing a product in an appealing manner to the public.
This strategy is vital for any experiential marketing approach and can be successfully implemented by businesses of all sizes.
Benefits of Experiential Marketing
The best thing about experiential marketing is that it benefits multiple stakeholders, including customers, brands, and even employees. Here is how.
Benefits of Experiential Marketing for Businesses/Brands
1. Boosts Brand Awareness
Boosting overall brand awareness is a significant challenge for any brand. Increased public awareness increases the likelihood of the brand name sticking in consumers’ minds when making a purchase.
Utilizing experiential marketing events to enhance brand awareness not only creates a unique opportunity but also increases the chances of immediate customer purchases.
2. Targeted Marketing
Another benefit of experiential marketing is that it helps target a specific audience that already has an interest in attending a brand’s event or experiential activity. It further helps the brands to approach their customers with ease.
3. Improves Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty
Building a loyal customer base is crucial for business success. To maintain a market presence, a brand must not only attract its target audience but also foster a sales-friendly environment, ensuring customer satisfaction and repeat purchases.
Loyal customers play a key role in effective word-of-mouth advertising, as they are more inclined to recommend the brand to others.
It is important to note that customer loyalty comes after customer satisfaction, and experiential marketing plays a vital role in that.
91% of customers said that they feel more optimistic regarding service, product, or brand after participating in a brand experience. Similarly, 40% of customers admitted that experiential marketing is a key factor in making them loyal to a certain brand.
4. Improves Engagement
Experiential marketing focuses on enhancing engagement by creating enjoyable interactions with the brand and encouraging customers to explore its offerings.
This approach effectively
- Showcases the benefits of products or services,
- Addresses customer needs, and,
- Promotes a positive relationship between the customer and the brand through enjoyable experiences
Benefits of Experiential Marketing for Customers
1. Improved Customer Support
Companies choosing experiential marketing prioritize their customers. It ultimately increases the chances of receiving prompt customer assistance from these brands.
2. Facilitates Swift Decision-Making
The ability to make quick judgments is enhanced as customers possess prior knowledge of the brand’s experience.
Benefits of Experiential Marketing for Employees
1. Timely Customer Responses Facilitate Immediate Adjustments
Staff members can promptly access customer feedback, enabling them to make swift modifications to products or services.
2. Establishing a Direct Connection with Clientele
Employees can engage directly with customers, which helps in deeper analysis and continuous improvement of their services or products.
How to Create an Effective Experiential Marketing Campaign?
There are different ways to build an effective experiential marketing campaign, but here are some pointers to consider.
a) Determine Your Target Audience
Before planning your campaign, identify your target audience based on age groups, needs, and interests. Focus on appealing to those most likely to develop an interest in your brand, as it’s impossible to appeal to everyone.
b) Set Goals
Establish clear goals for your experiential campaign to guide your efforts. Whether it’s creating brand awareness or driving sales, having defined goals helps in focusing energy and determining the level of effort required.
c) Create Memorable Experiences
Stand out to your target audience by being unique and fun. Creating memorable experiences increases the likelihood that your brand will be remembered, nurturing future interest and potential purchases.
d) Coordinate a Multi-Channel Campaign
For successful experiential marketing, use multiple channels such as various media sources, social media, and in-person appearances. Employ an integrated marketing strategy to ensure brand consistency across all platforms, generating interest and connecting with the public.
Examples of Experiential Marketing
Here are some of the best examples of experiential marketing.
1. Buffer and Ahrefs (Co-branding)
Tim Soulo, the Chief Marketing Officer of Ahrefs, collaborated with Brian Peters of Buffer to discuss effective methods for driving website traffic through evergreen content (SEO) and social media marketing in a live online broadcast.
Conducted on the YouTube platform, attendees had the opportunity to engage with the presenters through the chat feature and make use of the provided resources and presentation slides.
Lesson for marketers
Co-branding is only effective when two businesses are not competing with each other.
2. Calvin Klein, Pet Shop Boys, Palace Skateboards, Joan Collins, and Willem Dafoe
Engaging in experiential marketing involves creating memorable experiences. In this unique collaboration, iconic brands and personalities from the past—CK One, Pet Shop Boys, Willem Dafoe, and Joan Collins are combined with a contemporary skateboarding brand named Palace.
The promotional effort is shown on the official websites and social media platforms of Calvin Klein, Palace, and Pet Shop Boys. CK One, originally launched by Calvin Klein in the 1990s with the tagline “a memory comes with a scent,” is reintroduced in a more compact bottle.
Each participating brand seeks to capitalize on this collaboration to achieve its individual marketing objectives.
Lesson for marketers
In order to pull off such a risky but highly rewarding campaign, it is important to have a strong brand and big marketing.
3. IKEA Big Sleepover
In an effort to showcase their bedroom collection and establish a genuine connection with customers, IKEA initiated an experiential marketing initiative titled ‘The Big Sleepover.’
This campaign invited 100 contest winners to stay at their Lakeside store. Sleep experts guided participants in selecting the most suitable mattress within the store.
To improve the overall experience, additional elements of enjoyment were incorporated, including massages, cake and milk, manicures, and the presence of a local reality star who entertained participants with bedtime stories.
Lesson for marketers
The campaign creatively utilized physical space, expert guidance, and multisensory elements to create a memorable brand experience for the customers.
Experiential marketing is a vital marketing strategy, offering real-life interactions with products or services to
- Build understanding
- Create awareness, and
- Increase sales
Brands like Nike, Volkswagen, and Sprite are actively adopting experiential marketing. It surpasses traditional advertising by nurturing personal engagement, making brands more memorable and shareable.
Notably, experiential marketing differs from event marketing, providing individualized experiences. It is
- Essential for boosting brand awareness
- Targeting specific audiences
- Improving customer satisfaction, and
- Fostering customer loyalty
Successful campaigns involve pop-up shops, guerrilla marketing, and brand activation, benefitting customers, brands, and employees as well.