Experiential Marketing in Retail
Many industry insiders have predicted that experiential marketing will become a tactic that marketers in retail cannot avoid in 2018. Getting customers to visit a store in person as opposed to shopping online is difficult. To get customers through the door, brands need to offer them a unique in-person shopping experience that they can’t get online. For this reason, many retailers have turned to experiential marketing. In 2018, retailers will begin to integrate experiential marketing into their shopping experience in order to gain a competitive advantage and keep customers engaged. Customers will no longer be left to search for items or make purchase decisions on their own when they enter a retail store. Instead, retailers will have brand ambassadors to guide customers through the experience of shopping in the store.
Letting Consumers Dictate the Brand’s Path
In the past, brands that have hosted experiential marketing events have led the conversation with consumers, but now, the roles are reversing. Brands are starting to recognize the importance of letting their customers dictate the brand’s path.
One brand that does this brilliantly is Sephora. Customers can open the Sephora app or visit the Sephora website to join groups dedicated to different cosmetic, hair, and skincare topics. In these communities, customers can swap beauty tips, ask each other questions, or share looks they’ve created with Sephora products. Sephora can then listen to what customers are talking about to determine gaps in the products and services they offer. By creating this unique platform, Sephora has given its customers a voice in the direction of their company. Without having to step in and lead the conversation, Sephora can now use customers’ comments to improve their brand and shopping experience.
Letting customers talk to you instead of talking to the customers is an important concept that can be applied to many different marketing tactics, including experiential marketing.
In the early days of experiential marketing, consumers may not have understood what was happening when they attended branded events and interacted face-to-face with brand ambassadors. But now, consumers are starting to understand that brands want to connect with them in new and exciting ways. Because consumers are becoming more open-minded, brands may feel they have more freedom when it comes to planning their experiential marketing events.
For example, in the past, brands may have worried about how an in-store event would disturb customers that did not want to take part in an experiential marketing activation. Now that consumers are more open-minded about these events, brands don’t have to hold back when they plan these engaging activations. Now, they can assume that customers who come in the store will recognize that there is a branded event going on and will appreciate the effort that the brand is making to keep customers engaged.
Open-minded customers may be more willing to interact with brand ambassadors at events as well, whereas in the past they may have brushed off an ambassador’s attempt to engage. This means brands may be able to get more valuable feedback from customers and build deeper relationships with them.
Unique Venues for Experiential Marketing Events
In the past, brands hosted experiential marketing events at traditional venues such as standalone stores, music festivals, and conferences. But, as experiential marketing becomes increasingly popular, brands have to find a way to make their event stand out from a sea of others. One way that they succeed in doing this is by hosting their event in unique venue that guests will certainly remember.
Some brands have hosted experiential marketing events in compact-sized shipping containers with custom interiors and branded exteriors. These shipping containers are easy to move, eye-catching, and versatile, which is why they’re ideal for experiential events. Other brands, such as Marie Claire magazine, have taken to the skies to host their event in the middle of a flight. Hosting an event in a unique venue is one way to ensure that guests have a memorable experience. After all, would you be more likely to remember an event that you attended in the sky or in a booth at a conference? As competition becomes more intense, brands will need to get more creative when deciding where to host their events.
Brands are starting to realize the value in teaming up with one another to host experiential marketing events together. Sometimes, the partnership between two brands is a natural fit. For example, GoPro and Red Bull have partnered on a number of different events together. Both of these brands are marketed towards people who are vibrant, full of life, and active, so this partnership makes sense.
But, other brand partnerships may not seem like such an obvious fit. Casper, which is a company that sells mattresses, teamed up with both The Standard and Tesla to host an experiential marketing event at SXSW earlier this year. Although these three brands are not necessarily perfect matches for one another, the event was still a success. Casper found that they were able to introduce their brand to a whole new group of consumers that had never heard of Casper mattresses before. Therefore, even if the partnership isn’t a natural fit, it can still open doors for all of the brands involved.