Experiential marketing refers to a marketing team’s active involvement in building a consumer experience with a product or service. It gives consumers something they can connect with, feel, taste, smell, or see in a real-world setting. Businesses use experiential marketing strategies to optimize the customer experience for better business outcomes.
Marketing activities can create engagement, but they may or may not build experience. Many consumers ignore junk mail and overlook online advertisements as they go about their business. These activities don’t build loyalty or inspire memories associated with a brand. When someone uses a sample of body wash or tastes a freshly brewed cup of coffee, he or she gains experience with the actual product. Even touching the microfiber or leather of a sofa in a furniture store serves as an experiential marketing activity.
Experiential marketing works because it provides measurable results. Marketers can evaluate the number of sales generated on a day when customers could taste a product. They can use social listening to discover what people are saying about product samples. For products that aren’t hands-on, marketers can measure engagement via the number of impressions. Impressions may foreshadow sales in the near and distant future.
While experiential marketing makes sense for many products and services, it requires both time and money. Some businesses need to make difficult decisions between different marketing strategies. When used as a complementary marketing strategy, experiential marketing can create brand evangelists, improve brand awareness and understanding, and directly impact ROI.
The key component in every experiential marketing campaign is the product or service, itself. Giving a consumer the ability to try, test, or touch the product creates an experience. While experiential marketing events do not always provide free samples, they may offer a discount or another promotion to thank consumers for taking the time out of their day.
There are many examples of successful experiential marketing campaigns:
- Early in 2016 Lean Cuisine asked women how they “wanted to be weighed” with their #WeighThis campaign. The project resonated with women, who often have a difficult relationship with the scale. The campaign empowered women by allowing them to focus less on their weight and more on what matters – their health and wellness. The YouTube video has over 50,000 views.
- Guinness sent “flight crews” to over 1600 venues over 9 weekends and created quite a buzz in 2013 with their award-winning campaign. Anyone drinking a pint was given a chance to win a trip to Dublin – the private flight left that very night. Smaller themed prizes were awarded throughout the night.
- Delta’s “stillness in motion” earned them 9.3 million social impressions.
- Carlsberg unveiled a billboard named ‘Probably the best poster in the world’ in Brick Lane, London, and for many people, this genuinely delivered on its promise.
As you can see from the billboard below, there was an actual working tap attached to the center where people could pull their own pints.