What is Experiential Marketing?

Ralph Hockens

Experiential marketing is a form of advertising that focuses primarily on helping consumers experience a brand – and it is so hot right now: according to the Event Marketing Institute’s EventTrack study, marketers spent an estimated 4.7% more last year on event and experiential marketing. The study also indicated that experiential is growing faster for companies with more than $1 billion in total revenue, which hiked their experiential budgets 9.8% in 2012. In response- many agencies are jumping on this bandwagon and calling themselves “experiential”. Therefore, we thought we’d take a moment to tell you what experiential actually means:

Experiential marketing is the creation of memorable experiences and events. They include key differences from event marketing:

  • Focus is neither on venue, nor food, nor audience; it is on content
  • The event or experience is a physical immersion into a brand
  • Digital activation / social media is woven in closely with every element, driving user generated content through participation, and ultimately – driving to e-commerce sales where possible
  • The aim is to connect with their consumers and make them feel and act
  • The best and most effective experiential activities in class are those that recognize that today, the consumer is a marketer, and thus design the activation as a user experience, rather than as a brand “look at me” moment

Lebron watch

While tactics for experiential marketing will to include activities, demonstrations, and attention grabbing guerrilla stunts – as well as digital / social media calls to action, in contrast, the strategy must be singular. One story-driven idea should resonate through each event activation – and be consistent and remarkable from start to finish. For great examples, check out some of Havas Luxe’s recent case studies – such as Audemars Piguet.

Why Should Companies Focus on Experiential Marketing? 

Because it works: According to a survey conducted in 2014 by the marketing agency Mosaic and the Event Marketing Institute, 96% of people who participated in an Experiential activation are more inclined to purchase the brand, and on average, 54% will be driven to purchase.

And here’s why it works: In a world where people are saturated with information, conventional media channels are losing their effectiveness to catch people’s attention. With Experiential Marketing, brands get to stop time and gain a tangible presence in their customer’s life. From there, it can be used to:

  • Build relationships
  • Raise awareness
  • Increase loyalty
  • Establish relevance
  • Encourage interaction and product trial
  • Create memories
  • Stimulate positive word of mouth
  • Change the mind of dissatisfied customers
  • Create product desire
  • Verify the target audience

When Does it Work Best?

The answer is: when you know what you want to get out of it. Experiential marketing can be used to satisfy many marketing requirements, but the best campaigns have more tightly defined goals. Know in advance:

  • What is your “hook” – what do you want to focus on?
  • Which customers do you want to target?
  • What is your ideal outcome, or what key metrics will your brand focus on for success?

…and then, leave the rest to us.

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