Experiential marketing is becoming increasingly popular. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the events industry is projected to have grown by 44 percent between 2010 and 2020. Meanwhile, Pearlfinders reports that 40 percent more U.K. businesses invested in experiential marketing and exhibition services in 2016 than in 2015.
Part of the reason for this growth in popularity is the fact that experiential marketing allows a business or event company to generate brand engagement by allowing their target audience to play an active part in the marketing process. By attending live events or product launches, consumers build a relationship with a brand which extends beyond the traditional dynamic of the business simply providing products or services for the customer.
Providing Memorable Experiences
The defining characteristic of experiential marketing is the provision of an experience that is shared by both a brand and a consumer, or potential consumer. Experiencing something positive and memorable allows people to build a positive association with that brand, which then lasts beyond the end of the experiential campaign itself.
Live events also allow companies to blend the physical and digital worlds. For instance, digital technology can be used to broadcast to an even wider audience over the Internet, while certain event or exhibition services, like photo booths or games, can be purpose-built with social media sharing in mind. From the consumers’ point of view, they are sharing a memory with friends while, from the brand’s point of view, they are gaining exposure.
This ability to provide experiences rather than tangible ‘things’ is especially beneficial when it comes to building meaningful connections with millennials. In general, it appears that they are a generation that is more concerned with doing things than having things, and they are also the generation that is most active on social media.
Forging Deeper Connections
A major benefit of experiential marketing is its potential to create long-term customer loyalty. For example, a retail company that puts on a memorable product launch event may subsequently find that they generate repeat business from attendees, who have built a positive association, while also learning about that product.
Of course, experiential marketing is not only useful for retail businesses. Some of the biggest advocates in recent years have been Premier League football teams, with many of them choosing to travel to places like Asia and the United States during the pre-season period, in an effort to make a connection with people in those countries.
“Fans can engage with teams on a more physical level than through social and digital content,” says Phil Boas, director of brand engagement at Paragon, writing for Event Magazine. “Premier League fans can form a deeper connection with a particular team through unforgettable experiences [resulting in] a greater customer lifetime value.”
Advantages Over Advertising
In addition to helping businesses to generate an emotional attachment from customers, experiential marketing has the potential to succeed where traditional advertising no longer does. For instance, television advertising is now less valuable than in previous decades, because more people watch ‘on demand’ content and skip the ads.
Similarly, e-mail marketing has become notoriously saturated in recent times, with average click-through rates currently standing at less than five percent, according to Smart Insights. Online advertising, meanwhile, has been adversely affected by the prevalence of ad-blocking software, suggesting people are turned off by overt marketing.
By contrast, experiential marketing does not suffer from these drawbacks. When a business or event company provides a positive experience, customers do not feel as cynical toward it and do not view it as something to be avoided. As a result, it offers an opportunity to interact with people who may otherwise be out of reach.