Experiential Marketing

Have you ever imagined how cool it would be if we could just press a button and have cookies show up almost immediately? Well, look no further because experiential marketing brings your craziest childhood dreams to life. Printing food and skydiving from the stratosphere sound like made-up scenarios from a cartoon, but a group of innovative brands (and marketers) turned these wild adventures into reality for their customers. Are you as intrigued as we are? Read along and discover how absurd experiences can lead to long-lasting customer relationships.

Experiential Marketing Experiential Marketing

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Table of contents

    Experiential Marketing Definition

    The idea of 'experiential' stems from the word "experience." So, experiential marketing has to do with creating experiences for consumers. As a result, we define experiential marketing as follows.

    Experiential marketing is a marketing strategy used to engage customers by directly participating in an experience.

    The experience itself in experiential marketing can be an event, an installation, a performance, a live online event (e.g., a live stream), etc. Although marketers can directly promote products through experiences and events, it is usually not the main goal of experiential marketing. The primary objective of experiential marketing is to actively involve and engage customers with the brand and thus form long-term impressions and relationships with customers.

    Check out our explanation of customer engagement to find out why this is a crucial element of marketing.

    For example, shoes and accessories retailer Aldo hosted a live shopping event in partnership with celebrity stylist Mimi Cuttrell and TikTok star Nate Wyatt. The two shared style tips and their favorite Aldo products with their viewers. The audience could also check out the brand's new collection during the event. The event generated around 17,000 page views and a 308% engagement rate.1

    Although the brand was promoting its new spring collection, it provided an experience for customers. Having a celebrity stylist and a content creator explain why they love the brand through a live stream probably created more engagement for the fashion brand than if they used a traditional marketing campaign.

    However, the case of Aldo is just the beginning of experiential marketing. Certain brands take experiential marketing to the next level. We will examine more experiential marketing cases in the following section. First, let's look at why marketers use experiential marketing in more detail. There are three main reasons:

    1. Long-lasting relationships with customers - Experiences can create impactful impressions on customers and translate into stronger brand connections. Think about it, if a customer can actively engage with an event or installation, they will likely remember the brand through the experience; thus, creating a stronger impression than a TV commercial or a banner ad.

    2. Collecting data - Marketers love new customer data and insights. Luckily for them, experiential marketing does just that. Many customers are willing to provide personal information in exchange for experiencing the brand. Additionally, during brand experiences, marketers can assess customer reactions and ask users for feedback.

    3. Customer understanding - Through live events and experiences, customers can deeply engage with a product and thus better understand it (and the brand). Therefore, interactive experiences also help customers connect with products and brands more profoundly and help build long-term relationships with customers.2

    Experiential Marketing Example

    Before diving deep into experiential marketing strategy, let's look at some examples to inspire your creativity.

    In 2012, the company Red Bull live streamed its Stratos jump. Although the company started out as an energy drink manufacturer, Red Bull is known for its high and active involvement in extreme sports.

    As part of an experiential marketing campaign, the company partnered with Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner to pull off the highest skydive in the world. The skydiver set off to the stratosphere (yes, you read that correctly, I was also shocked) alone in a small capsule attached to a helium-filled balloon.

    Baumgartner broke the world record, landed safely, and in the meantime, Red Bull live streamed the entire event online on its YouTube channel. As a result, the company Red Bull also broke a world record, with the live stream experiencing the highest viewing traffic of all time (over eight million viewers). The event created a memorable experience for all viewers and thus increased Red Bull's exposure.3

    Experiential Marketing Red Bull Experiential Marketing StudySmarterFig. 1 - Experiential Marketing Red Bull Example

    We can observe another fantastic example of experiential marketing through the fashion house Jacquemus's pop-up event in partnership with Selfridges.

    Jacquemus brought "Le Bleu," an immersive experience, to London in partnership with the high-end Selfridges department store.

    The pop-up features three distinct spaces. One of them is located in Selfridges London and features cool elements like a blue life-size toothpaste tube and a giant glass of water. It also presents the designer's new exclusive women's apparel and accessories collection. The installation is meant to represent a disproportionate, clean bathroom to engage and draw viewers' attention to the designer's apparel.

    The second space is inspired by swimming pool changing rooms with various 3D experiences inside each locker; meanwhile, the third space features a vending machine stocked with Jacquemus Chiquito and Bambino bags. All three spaces are draped in the same blue color, representing the designer's fascination with water.4

    The pop-ups were a limited-time-only event, creating a sense of urgency and intrigue in customers. Creating three separate but cohesive spaces and offering interactive experiences within each area was also an effective way of creating awareness of the brand and engaging potential and existing customers.

    As a final example, let's examine what experiences the world-favorite cookie manufacturer, Oreo, has been cooking up.

    Can you imagine a world in which we print food? Well, Mondelez International (Oreo's parent company) certainly can.

    In 2014, Oreo partnered with Twitter and a 3D printing company to print real Oreos. The printed cookies were customizable, personalized, and, most importantly, edible. Customers could use a touch screen to choose their personalized cookie's flavor and color. The company used digital technology to "bridge real-world events with the online conversation."5

    The experiential campaign has also gained a lot of social media attention, and the campaign's primary hashtag, #eatthetweet, was even trending on Twitter.

    Experiential Marketing Experiential marketing Oreo example StudySmarterFig. 2 - Experiential Marketing Oreo Example

    Key Performance Indicators of Experiential Marketing

    So, how can we measure success in experiential marketing campaigns? Similarly to all marketing campaigns, marketers must develop a set of key performance indicators.

    A key performance indicator (KPI) is a type of metric marketers use to evaluate performance.

    In general, there are a variety of key performance indicators. Marketers select the most important ones based on the objectives of their campaign. In experiential marketing, some of the KPIs marketers might use include:

    • Location-based KPIs - How many people showed up to the event? Did people pass through all available spaces? How much time did people spend at the event? Location can play a crucial role in experiential marketing. Collecting location-specific data can also help marketers generate insight for future events. For example, if the space was too large and customers felt overwhelmed, marketers might suggest a more cozy environment for future events.

    • Brand awareness KPIs - How did people find out about the experience? How many unique visitors did we capture? Brand awareness is one of the main objectives of experiential marketing. As a result, marketers should collect brand awareness data before the event and assess how it compares post-event.

    • Conversion KPIs - How many people signed up for a mailing list or promotion? How many products were sampled? Conversions are essential for marketers as they are necessary for building a loyal customer base.

    • Sales KPIs - How many people actually bought a product due to the event? How many people subscribed?

    • Engagement KPIs - Did people post on social media about the event? Has the brand experienced an increase in followers? Were there significant digital brand mentions? How many people used the dedicated hashtag?

    • The overall return on investment (ROI) - What is the experience's return on investment overall? The overall ROI shows us whether the event was worth it in terms of investment. It can be calculated based on the objective marketers set for the event (e.g., sales).

    Check out our explanation of marketing metrics to find out more about how to measure performance.

    Experiential Marketing Advantages and Disadvantages

    Before you head off, let's look at some of the benefits and challenges of experiential marketing.

    Advantages of Experiential Marketing

    Why do marketers use experiential marketing? Experiential marketing effectively captures people's attention as people get to experience and interact with the product or brand directly. But why is this so important for marketers, and where can this interaction lead to? Well, some of the primary benefits experiential marketing can bring a business are (see Figure 3 below):

    • Increasing brand awareness,

    • Creating a connection between the customer and the brand,

    • Building long-term relationships with customers,

    • Creating direct engagement online and in-person,

    • Driving brand loyalty,

    • Generating conversions.

    Challenges of Experiential Marketing

    On the other hand, marketers might face challenges with their experiential marketing campaigns. Some of the key challenges include:

    • An experiential marketing campaign can be costly to implement. Often marketers need to rent event or pop-up spaces to house the experience, purchase, program, or develop new technology, hire additional workers for the event, etc. (Just imagine how much it cost Red Bull to send someone to the stratosphere).

    • The business cannot repeat it. Although an experience might have proven to be a huge success, Marketers cannot repeat it twice. One of the main benefits of experiential marketing is the engagement, interactivity, and connection it forms with the audience due to its unique nature. If the audience has already participated in the event once, it will not create much of a "wow" factor the second time.

    • Certain customers might find the experience underwhelming. Marketers need to research the types of events their customers would be interested in; otherwise, it might not create as much engagement or turnout.

    Experiential Marketing - Key takeaways

    • Experiential marketing is a marketing strategy used to engage customers by directly participating in an experience.
    • Marketers use experiential marketing to build longstanding customer relationships, collect data, and gain more insight into customer attitudes and behavior.
    • A key performance indicator (KPI) is metric marketers use to evaluate performance.
    • Experiential marketing can increase brand awareness, create a connection between the customer and the brand, generate conversions, drive brand loyalty, and help create a loyal customer base.
    • The challenges of experiential marketing are its costliness and "one time only" nature.

    References

    1. Emil Kristensen. 7 Brilliant Live Shopping Examples from Real Brands. Drip. 2022. https://www.drip.com/blog/live-shopping-examples
    2. Steve Olenski. 3 Reasons Why CMOs Should Embrace Experiential Marketing. Forbes. 2018. https://www.forbes.com/sites/steveolenski/2018/08/15/3-reasons-why-cmos-should-embrace-experiential-marketing/?sh=4a4569b47da6
    3. Braden Becker. 14 Examples of Experiential Marketing Campaigns That'll Give You Serious Event Envy. Hubspot. 2021. https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/best-experiential-marketing-campaigns

    4. Selfridges. "Le Bleu" Jacquemus + Selfridges. 2022. https://www.selfridges.com/GB/en/features/articles/corner-shop/jacquemus/

    5. 3. Brittney Sevenson. Oreo Allows Guests at SXSW to 3D Print Their Own Cookies, Based on Twitter Trends. 2014. https://3dprint.com/1492/oreo-allows-guests-at-sxsw-to-3d-print-their-own-cookies-based-on-twitter-trends/
    Frequently Asked Questions about Experiential Marketing

    What is experiential marketing?

    Experiential marketing is a marketing strategy used to engage customers by directly participating in an experience. The primary objective of experiential marketing is to actively involve and engage customers with the brand and thus form long-term impressions and relationships with customers. 

    What is an experiential marketing example?

    Experiential marketing can take multiple different forms. The experience itself in experiential marketing can be, for example, an event, an installation, a performance, a live online event (e.g., a live stream), etc.  

    What type of marketing is experiential marketing?

    Any type of marketing that creates an experience for the audience can be experiential marketing. Experiential marketing can be intended for B2B or B2C audiences. Examples of experiential marketing include pop-ups, events, or installations.

    Is advertising an experiential marketing?

    Advertising can be a form of experiential marketing. Experiential marketing tries to create a unique impression on customers, leading to engagement with the product or brand. Sometimes marketers can do this through advertising, however, more often than not, when we talk about experiential marketing, we are referring to an event, an installation, a performance, etc.

    What are the benefits of experiential marketing?

    Experiential marketing can increase brand awareness and engagement, create a connection between the customer and the brand, generate conversions, drive brand loyalty, and help create a loyal customer base. These are some of the benefits of experiential marketing. 

    What are the goals of experiential marketing?

    Although marketers can directly promote products through experiences and events, it is usually not the main goal of experiential marketing. The primary objective of experiential marketing is to actively involve and engage customers with the brand and thus form long-term impressions and relationships with customers. 

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    What are some examples of experiential marketing?

    The ______ objective of experiential marketing is to actively involve and engage customers with the brand and thus form long-term impressions and relationships with customers. 

    Marketers only use experiential marketing to promote products.

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