Experiential marketing refers to the strategy allowing brands to create memorable and emotional experiences for their target audience. The purpose of the experiences is to increase engagement and loyalty of said audience to the brand, which should affect their purchasing habits.
The concept was developed by James H. and B. Joseph Pine II in their book The Experience Economy. Both say that creating memorable events helps elevate brands from their competitors.
Experiential marketing at work
Adidas promoted the latest signature sneaker of NBA superstar Derrick Rose in London two years ago. Instead of just having the 2011 NBA Most Valuable Player to the event, the brand gave fans an opportunity to win a free pair of his latest shoes. All they need to do is jump and reach out to the rack of the signature sneakers 10 feet high from the ground, which is as high as the NBA regulation hoop.
It didn’t matter how many people were able to jump and grab on to the sneakers. The experience aimed to achieve a unique experience that its fans will take with them after the event is done.
Sky Television, with the help of RPM, launched a groundbreaking educational experience that allows students to form a tangible and meaningful experience with the television company. In this campaign, students ages 8-18 visited the studio to experience how great TV was made. They also were able to shoot and edit a television report by creating a script about their chosen subject using the same technology used by Sky Television – quality cameras, green screen technology, and more.
The experience allowed them to catch of glimpse of the television industry and get to experience how shows and broadcasts are made.
Does experiential marketing really work?
Experiential marketing requires brand to spend a lot to launch memorable events that last forever. But the return of investment is not clear enough to justify the costs spent for such campaigns. Businesses care about the long-term strategy and how this type of marketing fits into their plans moving forward.
If experiential marketing is unable to track the number of customers that were converted or sales that was achieved through this particular campaign, then businesses tend to look for more measurable campaigns where they can quantify their expenses.
Still, experiential marketing banks on the idea that it will produce long-term loyalty to its target market. According to Brand Keys president Robert Passikoff in this Entrepreneur article, businesses should “view the purchase decision-making process as more emotional than rational, with estimates in most categories reporting a 70:30 emotional to rational ratio.”
This starts with the word of mouth advocacy. According to a study conducted by the Event Marketing Research Institute called The Viral Impact of Events, “78% of attendees told friends and family about the event; 90% of them did so within two days of the event, and 69% mentioned the sponsor of the event.”
What this shows is the power of the spoken word as a result of experiential marketing. Whether this ushers more customers to the brand is not the main point, but the ability to create buzz that spreads like wildfire is. While difficult to measure and quantify, making your experiential marketing as viral as possible is a key indicator to how effective the experience you provided to your market is.
Final thoughts: Experiential marketing may seem like a big brand approach to marketing and promotions due to its scope. But if you have the funds to shell out for a campaign that provides a unique experience that lets your market feel your brand even more, this approach may just be worth it.
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