Hey team! Marketing and branding are meant to reflect the customers so that you can reach them so when a new generation emerges or major societal changes occur, their habits impact the way we do our job and market things. We are entering a new era in this industry where experiential marketing is replacing passive marketing. This change means exciting opportunities for creativity and bolder moves from brands than ever before.

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"Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn." — Benjamin Franklin

What is experiential marketing & why is it a thing?

First of all, experiential marketing means that the marketing is fully immersive. It is not about ads anymore but about creating a well-rounded experience of a brand through all the senses so that the customers can experience the world of the brand. It is also about building a relationship that goes both ways. Traditionally, marketing was a one-way relationship: look at what our product or service can do. Point on the line, no one asking for your opinion. With experiential marketing, the focus is on creating a two-way connection, allowing customers to interact with the brands so that it mimics a full-on relationship. We talk about brand identity a lot, and that is just part of it. As brands become more and more personified, they need to act like a person that you can like, dislike, or find funny to make the illusion complete.

Unsurprisingly, Gen Z is behind this trend. The industry had to adapt to their new context. With the oversaturation of information and ads everywhere, they have grown tired and insensitive to traditional ways of advertising; it is hard to connect with them this way. We also have the internet and social media becoming the place where they live, and this place allows for interactions whether you like it or not. Back in the 50s, there weren’t online reviews and videos of people showing what the product truly is. These are interactions with the brands, and they happen anyway, so we might as well lean into it.

Because of this separation through the screen, Gen Z has been left craving emotional connection; it reflects in their way of consuming just the same. They are rejecting models of ads that are all about the talk, appearances, and superficial engagement. They pick brands based on their emotional affect: are these brand authentic? Do we share the same values? Do I have good memories with them?

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"Connection is why we're here; it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives." — Brené Brown

What can experiential marketing do?

When done well, experiential marketing makes a much greater impact than passive advertising. Purchases are driven by emotions, so if you can reach customers on this level, they will choose your brand.

The reason it works so well is that brands are expected to take actions to prove that they are truly invested in what they believe in. When it comes to building a brand identity, a mission, purpose, vision, and values are laid out. Simply mentioning these is not enough anymore; when a brand goes deeper into these aspects and shows them through actions, it demonstrates authenticity and builds trust.

By immersing customers in interactive and memorable environments, brands can tap into emotions, creating experiences that resonate deeply. These emotional connections make the brand more memorable and meaningful, leading to increased brand loyalty and advocacy.

Finally, experiential branding places consumers at the center of the brand story, strengthening the brand-customer relationship. By allowing consumers to actively participate and engage with the brand, it makes the experience enjoyable and engaging. This customer-centric approach drives conversions and repeat business, as consumers are more likely to remember and trust a brand they have personally interacted with. Moreover, these memorable experiences are often shared among consumers, increasing the brand’s visibility and reach. In essence, experiential branding creates lasting impressions, differentiating brands in competitive markets and fostering long-term customer loyalty.

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"People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." — Maya Angelou

What’s the key?

Storytelling is the heart of experiential branding. We believe that for experiential marketing to work, it has to be thought of as a complement to or an extension of everything else the brand has been doing. It needs to stay coherent and support the brand identity. If your brand is about body positivity, you are not going to sponsor a tractor event. It is completely irrelevant and doesn’t align with your brand, but you might install branded photobooths in the city. Know the story around your brand and use immersive marketing to draw customers fully into the brand’s universe. Through these interactions, the customer then takes part in the brand’s story, ultimately making them brand advocates as they identify with it.

How do we do it?

Now comes the fun part. We are going to get into some examples and types of experiential marketing that can be done, but it is important to keep in mind that there are no limits here. The idea is simply to think about adding ways to interact with and involve customers, and what can be added so that more senses are involved. This can be done at every single step of the customer journey: selling coffee in a store so that taste and smell are also added to the experience, adding some interactive features in an online checkout process, as well as outside of this process, like organizing and sponsoring a skate competition or installing mirrors in a city. As long as it aligns with the brand, go for it!

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"Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today." — Robert McKee

Physical Spaces

Implementing experiential marketing in physical spaces starts by designing spaces that really reflect the brand’s vibe. Everything from the layout and décor to the lighting and music has to say something about the brand. Every details that goes into the space that a brand inhabit whether it is a store or a booth at a festival should be taught in a way that is either engaging or immersive. Physical space offer an advantage that digital space don’t have; it can access the five senses. Make sure there are plenty of touchpoints where customers can get hands-on with your products, like interactive displays or sensory experiences like taste testing and scent stations.

Turning a physical space into a community hub is another great idea. Hosting events, workshops, or pop-up shops where people can connect with each other and the brand. This helps build a sense of belonging and makes the experience more memorable. Personalization is key—tailor the environment and activities to what the customers like, offering customized recommendations or unique products.

  • IKEA Sleepover: IKEA hosted a sleepover event in one of their stores, where participants could enjoy a night of comfort, relaxation, and fun activities, all while experiencing IKEA’s products firsthand. This event not only showcased their products but also created a unique and memorable experience for attendees. Participants shared their experiences on social media, generating buzz and enhancing IKEA’s brand image.

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Virtual Spaces

Brands are increasingly leveraging virtual spaces to create immersive experiences through apps, games, and emerging technologies like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). By integrating these technologies, brands can enhance in-person experiences and offer customers virtual engagement that goes beyond physical limitations. This approach allows consumers to dive into new and exciting worlds from the comfort of their own homes, combining storytelling with advanced technology to create memorable and emotionally resonant interactions.

AR enriches the physical world by adding digital overlays, providing users with additional information and engaging content as they interact with products. This can include interactive product demos or virtual try-ons that make the shopping experience more personalized and fun. Meanwhile, VR transports users to entirely virtual environments, offering unique ways to experience products and services. By engaging different senses with light, color, and sound, these virtual experiences evoke feelings of wonder and surprise, creating a deeper connection between consumers and the brand.

  • Travis Scott x Fortnite Concert: The virtual concert held within the Fortnite game allowed players to attend an immersive, interactive concert. This event blended entertainment and branding seamlessly, offering a unique experience that resonated with millions of gamers worldwide. The concert was a massive success, attracting millions of viewers and generating significant media coverage.

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Crowdsourcing Campaigns

Crowdsourcing offers brands a dynamic way to engage their audience by involving them directly in the creation and decision-making processes. This approach creates a sense of community and ownership among consumers, making them feel more connected to the brand.

By launching crowdsourcing campaigns, brands can gather ideas, feedback, and suggestions from their audience, actively involving them in product development and marketing strategies. This collaborative approach not only enhances consumer engagement but also drives innovation and creativity within the brand.

Lay's "Do Us a Flavor" Campaign

  • Lay's invited consumers to create and submit their own flavor ideas for a new potato chip. The campaign encouraged participants to think outside the box and suggest innovative flavors. Consumers submitted their ideas online, and Lay's selected a few finalists to produce and sell in stores. The public then voted for their favorite flavor. The campaign generated significant buzz and engagement, with millions of flavor submissions. It also resulted in increased sales and brand visibility as people bought the new flavors to try them and vote.

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Gamification is a great way to implement experiential marketing because it taps into people's natural desire for play and competition, making brand interactions more enjoyable and memorable. It is simply about incorporating game elements into a marketing campaigns, like point systems, leaderboards, and rewards, to create a sense of achievement and motivate engagement.

McDonald's Monopoly Game

  • McDonald's Monopoly game is a classic example of gamification in marketing. Customers receive game pieces with their food purchases that they can collect and use to win various prizes, including free food, cash, and even cars. Customers collect Monopoly game pieces that correspond to properties on the Monopoly board. By completing sets of properties, they can win prizes based on the game's rules. The Monopoly game has been incredibly successful for McDonald's, driving customer engagement, repeat visits, and excitement around their menu offerings.

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We personally love this new era of marketing as we are all about disrupting traditions and moving away from anything boring and predictable.

Want to join us?

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