Experiential marketing (also called engagement marketing, event marketing) is a type of marketing strategy based on direct engagement of the customer with the brand. In other words, the customer is invited to be a part of the evolution of a brand, to know it from the start and see its’ development in time. Ideally, to be part of this progress of the brand and help it grow in the “good” direction. A relevant definition is the one given by CMO a few years ago: “Experience marketing is a mutually beneficial interaction between customer and brand in an authentically branded engagement.” Another one, very simple and coming directly from the name, is that it creates experiences for the customers.
This type of marketing is not something new. It has existed for as long as marketeers have been around. One can say it has existed since the first World Fair, held in 1791 in Prague . During this world fair industrialists, inventors and creators of all types designed massive exhibitions of their inventions and shared them with the public. This type of event (event marketing, as it was called for a long time) opened the chance for customers to interact with the creators in a unique, informative and entertaining manner. The engagement rate was much higher than usual, as the customers had the change to interact directly with the creators and their products, thus having an authentic and emotional relation with both, and having the feeling of being part of the process.
For many years, experiential marketing has been, to quote again CMO, the “red-headed stepchild of the marketing world”. It was only done by a few companies, and generally in case the budget allowed it, after doing everything else. Hooking the customers to one’s brand was not a scope in itself. The main scope was to increase sales, and classic marketing tools were enough to help with this.
With the development of technology and the Internet of things in the last 20 years or so, the age of the customer has gained more and more ground. People have started to be more demanding, to ask for more personalized products and services, while brands have started to understand the importance of their customers’ demands. The world has changed, people have adapted to it and have begun asking for more from it, so it was only natural that brands and agencies adapt as well (some of them, at least).
Experiential marketing has been proven in the last years to build a stronger connection between brand and its customers. According to a report by The Event Marketing Institute and Mosaic, 70% of users at an experiential marketing event become more regular customers after taking part in that event, 98% feel more inclined to purchase after attending a brand activation, and 74% of event attendees declare that they have a more positive opinion on the company / brand / product / service promoted at that event.
There are plenty of methods to design unique experiences for a brands' consumers, from the "classical" online communities to different branded events / experiences, depending on the brands' goals. When talking about experiences, all of them have generally had more impact than the classical marketing campaigns, online or offline. The more creative the team behind such a campaign, the higher the impact.
One nice example of experiential marketing that has had a good outcome is Misereor The Social Swipe, a campaign designed by German NGO Misereor with the scope of increasing charity donations by taking advantage of today's habits of paying everything by credit card:
If you want more similar examples, just take a look at the following well-thought and inspired campaigns and events: Google Impact Challenge Bay Area, Refinery29’s 29 Rooms, Lean Cuisine: #WeighThis, Coca Cola’s Skyfall Promotion, T Mobile’s Angry Brids, Samsung LANdry, SNCF Europe is just next door, and continue your search from them. These are just a few of the amazing ideas based on our increasing need for experiences, rather then possessions.
It looks like the world is slowly changing again, going from Having to Being, to avoiding the accumulation of products in favor of unique experiences. It seems to me that we should all follow this trend, as it should bring us more happiness on the long run than the simple accumulation of products that we use once or twice and then forget about their existence...
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