Experimental or experiential marketing in 2021 continues to show a trend towards more excellent customer contact. This is happening against the backdrop of adapting to the epidemic and growing digital competition among brands. Yaroslav Sokolov, PR Director of NMi Group, spoke about the present and future experimental marketing.
What the research says
According to Finances Online, 70% of audiences become loyal customers after attending experiential marketing events. 85% of consumers say it significantly influences their purchasing decision.
Traditionally, experiential marketing agencies could offer public events such as in-store food tastings, fashion shows, and conventions. This figure has increased to 24% among younger people, but this is still a minority.
What makes experiential marketing different in the age of COVID-19
Of course, even before the global pandemic, marketers conducted and studied the effectiveness of digital events and other types of interaction with consumers that did not require a personal presence. At the same time, 44% of the surveyed consumers stated that they prefer outdoor events, which is especially true when there are requirements to maintain social distance and natural ventilation.
Farmers’ markets, fairs, and even parades offer great opportunities. For example, Mattel used accessible, low-tech immersive branding by stylizing a bus stop as a dollhouse.
Netflix also distinguished itself with an original marketing ploy. Even stylized telephone booths were installed. The campaign also gave grocery stores, hairdressers, pizzerias, and liquor stores a chance to get some extra traffic from the promotion. Over 36,000 items were given away during the two-day event, according to Event Marketer.
Experiential marketing does not always include direct experience with the product. For example, Pepsi would not be able to send out its product to all 20 million people who watched April 2020 One World All Together virtual concert featuring Lady Gaga, Paul McCartney, Billie Eilish, and other stars. At the same time, the campaign attracted not just a global audience but also representatives of different generations.
Pepsi did not promote its products but the brand as part of this promotion. The company used to experience organizing events and significant cash donations to support the fight against COVID-19. At the same time, other marketers tried to figure out how to reach a large audience in the early months of the pandemic.
How Experiential Marketing Drives Business Growth
The exact strategy for promoting a business through experiential marketing depends on the type of business, the product or service’s USP, and the available resources. I will give a list of primary advantages in a competitive environment.
Content Sharing: Social media users love to share extraordinary stories. When they say something positive about a brand, they increase the loyalty of family and friends.
An opportunity to connect with the brand: Pepsi failed to host a massive tasting of its products but ensured the work of its well-coordinated event team for a worthy cause.
Unforgettable impressions: the child will remember for a long time waiting for the bus at the bus stop, designed as a Barbie house, and will want to tell his friends about it.
What is the future of experiential marketing?
Virtual and hybrid types of marketing, which are relevant in the context of the epidemic, will continue to develop, including those based on augmented reality technologies. With the help of AR technology, brands can show the USP of their product, and not just talk about it.
Using facial recognition, Sephora has enabled consumers to virtually try out makeup products through the Virtual Artist app before buying them in the store.
“Trying on” before buying is also popular with buyers of furniture stores. For example, the IKEA app has built-in AI technology that allows consumers to see how different paint colors and furniture will look in their homes before buying them.
In particular, the music industry had to drastically change the concert experience, making shows accessible to a much wider audience. Since safety is a long-term part of our lives, enabling an audience to attend an event in person and virtually can significantly benefit brands.
With leading companies such as Facebook hosting real-time trading events, the future of experiential marketing has arrived faster than anyone could have imagined. Today, it provides people with a brand experience that helps strengthen connections and increase brand awareness, sales, and loyalty.
Digital communications practices and strategies are evolving at an accelerated pace. Innovations in business dictate some changes; others result from global processes within the market. Trendwatching is an essential professional skill that promotes adaptation and effectiveness in the sizeable interactive advertising market.
Anna Vetrinskaya, head of SberMarketing agency
For all participants in the digital promotion market, tracking restrictions create certain inconveniences. But we are adept at adapting. Depending on the client’s priorities, we can redistribute the budget into instruments with maximum measurability.
We are also actively working with first-party data and new tools that allow us to obtain good optimization indicators. Globally, the tracking restriction does not affect the quality of our team’s work: we can compensate for the lack of missing data with other tools.
SberMarketing initially relied on developing its technology platform and working with big data — this will help us reduce the risks associated with dependence on third-party data.
Once Google and Apple user data is consolidated within the platform’s internal loops, marketing automation could become an essential tool for marketers. For example, our clients using SberMarketing’s MRM system are already building a database based on the results of advertising campaigns, which in the future will allow them to predict the effectiveness of various online and offline channels.
Nadezhda Marueva, CEO of Getintent
Cookies are still the primary identifiers in digital advertising. But the study confirmed that the majority of respondents are looking for new tools that will positively impact the overall dynamics of the market.
Future changes are a natural course of evolution and will improve the market in the medium term. For the first time in a long time, the user (audience) is placed at the system’s center and not the advertiser or technology. Getintent also does a great job of analyzing and testing alternative identifiers.