Experiential marketing is the art and science of connecting consumers with a brand by immersing them in a unique, exciting and memorable experience. When done properly, interactive engagements should positively change brand perception, drive sales, build loyal following and increase brand awareness.
More often than not, brand experiences are directed at millennials – digital natives that possess the ability to commoditise and augment brand experiences through social media. For this reason, it is essential that brand experiences are designed with digital sharing in mind.
One example of successful experiential marketing is Alcatel’s ‘Boom Taxi’ campaign – an interactive virtual reality experience within a branded black cab which played upon current hype surrounding virtual reality and elevated the brand from the everyday high-street phone retailer to fun, fashion-forward and millennial-focussed events around the country. With its iridescent wrap, VR content and branded hashtag, the Boom Taxi was an incredibly shareable piece of social theatre, perfectly suited to posting on visual platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram.
However, the success of experiential marketing doesn’t stop at digital. In the long run, experiential campaigns can reach a huge extension of their direct audience through word-of-mouth marketing. Statistics reveal that people who take part in a positive brand experience are likely to tell around 17 peers about it (Experiential Marketing: A practical guide to interactive brand experiences, S. Smilansky, 2009) who are then likely to pass on news of their friend’s experience to another 1.5 people. This is why experiential campaigns have proven themselves effective at delivering a greater longterm ROI.
Perhaps most significantly, experiential marketing is credited with creating more brand advocates than any other method. This is because consumer experiences allow brands to stand out by virtue of their own personality, appealing to those who identify with the story and values of the brand. As well brand advocacy, experiential marketing allows target audiences to experience brands voluntarily, in a positive environment and on their own terms, instead of getting bombarded by unwanted ads. Fundamentally, experiential marketing allows a two-way communication between a brand and its audience, which is undoubtedly what successful marketing in the 21st century requires.