How online shopping can keep business active during the pandemic
Published On: 29th August 2019
“Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience.”
That is according to educational theorist David Kolb [i], whose experiential learning theory is arguably the theory most closely linked to experiential marketing.
That is because when a brand invites a consumer into their world or, in other words, an experiential event, they are effectively asking them to step inside, experience the surroundings, learn from what’s around them and, hopefully, as a result, take a positive perspective of the brand home with them.
And that is the power of experiential marketing. Consumers learning about the brand through an experience which may result, further down the line, in brand loyalty, brand advocacy or product sales.
From creative sampling to big-budget live productions, experiential marketing allows a brand to affect the way consumers identify with them. It is an extension of the brand, enabling consumers to get to know them on a deeper level through real, tangible experiences.
And if this really hits home, besides enabling brands to create their own original content for various platforms, such events can even encourage consumers to share their own personal experiences on social media, turning a brand’s audience into brand ambassadors – both a highly valuable and cost-effective asset.
Done correctly, experiential marketing is a very effective tool.
Research has found that 74% [ii] of consumers say that they have a better opinion of a brand after engaging with branded event experiences.
Whether it’s along the digital journey or through in-store customer service, consumers associate brands with how they make them feel – and an experiential event is the perfect opportunity for brands to make consumers feel good about themselves by offering them a memorable experience.
According to the theory of effective learning [iii], we “draw upon previous experience to understand and evaluate the present, so as to shape future action and formulate new knowledge.”
Experiential marketing is a tool to initiate this learning cycle. The importance for brands, therefore, to create a memorable experience that will leave a lasting impression in the consumer’s mind, which will help them shape future habits, is clear.
This is why more and more brands are choosing to bring to life their campaigns through experiential events and experiences, despite us living in an age where digital marketing holds sway and one in which high-street shops continue to close in numbers as the process of making a physical purchase instore becomes a less common occurrence.
Consumers are overwhelmed with information at every turn, meaning brands in the digital age often struggle to create significant impressions. Experiential marketing campaigns offer them the chance to cut through this noise.
For the brand that approaches experiential marketing the right way, the rewards are there to be reaped: generation of unique content, earned media, an opportunity to grow relationships through future digital interactions, the creation of an emotional engagement, building brand affinity and loyalty, inspiring consumers to be customers and brand advocates… The list goes on.
It’s no surprise then that 80% [iv] of marketers are said to consider live events to be critical to their brand’s success, while 65% [v] of brands state that their experiential marketing efforts lead to direct sales.
From the side of the consumer, according to research, 73% [vi] of people who take part in experiential marketing are more likely to purchase from the brand involved, while 74% [vii] of people surveyed have gone on to tell five people about a product after attending an experiential event.
This is not to say that experiential marketing equals an easy win for brands, far from it. Just as a memorable event will leave a lasting impression in the consumer’s mind, so too will a poorly-executed event result in a negative perception of the brand that may be tough to shift.
And like in the digital world, as the market gets more saturated, as is already the case, consumers will become more inundated with events to choose from in which they can spend their free time at. Brands will have a tougher job of appealing to their target audience, meaning a quickly thrashed out pop-up will no longer suffice.
That said, interest is not going to wane any time soon, particularly as long as Gen Z and the millennials are around. Both generations place a greater emphasis on experiences over material wealth, with 72% [viii] of millennials saying that they prefer to spend their cash on experiences.
The key to continuing to meet these desires and needs, as with any area of business, is to adapt, innovate and stay relevant.
So experiential events that push boundaries and can transport consumers to new worlds yet to be reached – whether that’s by embracing multi-sensory approaches, investing in new technology or simply creating the more spectacular – will ultimately remain successful.
Growing numbers of marketers are, unsurprisingly, allocating more and more budget to experiential marketing these days as they ask themselves the question, ‘Why buy a billboard when we can immerse consumers in our brand?’
They’ve come to realise that, much like in the worlds of sport and music where experiencing a football match in a packed stadium or your favourite artist at a festival is the pinnacle, in marketing, the power of experience will always be something worth tapping into.