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  • Writer's pictureJane Hayes Consulting

The Comeback Of Experiential Marketing.

Updated: 2 days ago


People climbing on Ikea-themed wall. The wall is made up to look like a home.

Like with many aspects of life, trends are cyclical, and marketing is no exception. In recent years experiential marketing has made a comeback as brands look at ways to engage with audiences and create authentic and memorable brand moments. We’re here for the comeback, as experiential marketing can be a fun, effective and personality-filled way to create engagement no matter the size of the activation. Join Jane Hayes Consulting as we take a look at The Comeback Of Experiential Marketing , and how you can implement it into your business.


So, what is experiential marketing?

It goes by many names, including XM, engagement marketing, or ground marketing, but they are all much of the same. They are experiences that customers can immerse themselves in to get a sense of a brand's essence and personality, in turn creating brand audience bonds that can convert. It is a marketing approach that invites customers to participate in a brand's story through real-life experiences and positive emotions.


Unlike traditional marketing methods, experiential marketing involves creating tangible interactions between consumers and brands. This creates memorable moments that generate excitement, loyalty, and a strong connection with the brand. It’s less about the product and more about the experience – one that customers will remember and associate with your brand.


Why It Works:

Experiential marketing works because it enables your brand to foster emotional connections with potential customers. The combination of creative concepts and interactive engagement focuses on addressing the physical and psychological needs of your target audience in a way that resonates with them, allowing for equal exchange and stronger relationships to be built.


Experiential marketing allows for opportunities to capture more attention and create more memorable experiences for consumers, which can then become stories that are shared amongst the public and ultimately result in increased brand awareness. It makes up an important part of any strong marketing strategy, as brands are encouraged to go above and beyond by creating experiences that cannot be achieved through traditional or digital marketing campaigns.


1. Types Of Experiential Marketing:

2. The Rise of Digital and the Need for Tangible Connections:

3. Accelerating Brand Growth Through Experiences:

4. How to Create a Successful Experiential Marketing Campaign:

5. Examples of Experiential Marketing:

6. Conclusion:


1. Types Of Experiential Marketing:

Let’s look through some of the many types of experiential marketing you can participate in. They all work to expose a brand to an audience and help create cut-through and create customer bonds.


· Product Showcases:

An effective way of showing your product in action and an opportunity for your audience to try it for themselves. Many people like to touch and feel products before they purchase, depending on the level of investment or category, so these events can be effective for tech brands and or consumables. Given the current economic climate, where many audiences are sceptical about waste, these events can be effective at converting a potential customer to your brand as they limit any financial risk.


· Immersive Experiences:

These activations aim to create a bond with its audience by creating a space that truly immerses the participant in the brand's world. They can be extremely effective at creating brand audience connection, educating the participants on the true nature and personality of the brand and can echo long after through social media and mainstream news outlets. Immersive brand experiences can allow a brand to have greater control over how they are perceived by those attending, but these activations can be more expensive to create.


· Sampling:

Many people are sceptical about changing brands as many brand alignments are cemented through exposure from our parents from a young age. Sampling events enable an individual to try a product in a branded environment, where they can ask questions and compare it to their go-to brands. These events are best held in high-foot-traffic areas at times when people are around in large numbers, e.g., early mornings, lunchtimes and after work. Sampling activations are also effective when held in close proximity to events such as sports matches or at a busy shopping centre. They can be more cost-effective for brands to create and can be the perfect opportunity to connect in a more intimate way.


· Event Marketing:

It can be hard to capture attention these days as there are so many brands vying for attention, and many audiences are sceptical about giving their time away to learn about a brand. Event marketing can be an effective way to communicate your brand message to a captured audience, creating sharable brand moments and product testing and can leave a more long-term impression. Depending on the nature of your brand and if you’re a brick and more on digital offering, they can be cost-effective to create, especially if you can collaborate on major aspects of the creative.


· Guerrilla Marketing:

Gorilla marketing can be on the lighter side of investment and can be an effective way of capturing the audience's attention at an unexpected moment. These types of activations focus on taking the audience by surprise and eliciting wonder, though they can misfire without an effective strategy and call to action.


2. The Rise of Digital and the Need for Tangible Connections:

With digital marketing flooding our screens and dominating the industry, a sense of detachment has emerged among consumers who now crave in-person, humanised interactions with brands. People are yearning for authentic experiences beyond their screens, and this is where experiential marketing comes into play. It allows businesses to establish strong relationships with their customers and build lasting brand connections. In this modern age, where digital rules, experiential marketing has re-emerged as an innovative way to make your brand stand out and be memorable.


3. Accelerating Brand Growth Through Experiences:

Immersing customers in engaging and entertaining experiences will ultimately elevate brand awareness, influence purchasing decisions, and establish brand loyalty. This increased brand engagement from experiential marketing campaigns has been proven to encourage user-generated content and word-of-mouth marketing, driving brand growth and customer acquisition. The emotional connection that emerges from such marketing efforts will result in a higher likelihood of consumers staying loyal to the brand and making future purchases.


4. How to Create a Successful Experiential Marketing Campaign:


To execute a successful experiential marketing campaign, follow these steps:


1. Identify your target audience: Determine the specific demographics your campaign will cater to.

2. Set clear goals: Identify your objectives, i.e., raise brand awareness, drive sales, or create brand ambassadors.

3. Come up with a unique experience that resonates with your audience: Immerse customers in an experience that stimulates their senses and leaves a lasting impression.

4. Align the experience with your brand values: Ensure that the experience you create supports and accentuates your brand’s identity.

5. Choose the right location and time: Determine when and where to execute your campaign for maximum impact.

6. Measure your success: Analyse data and feedback gathered from your campaign to identify its impact and return on investment.


5. Examples of Experiential Marketing:

Successful experiential marketing campaigns create a buzz and a lasting impression on consumers. For example, IKEA's unforgettable sleepover event invited shoppers for an overnight stay at an IKEA store, allowing them to test out the brand's furniture and mattresses firsthand. Similarly, The New York Times 25-foot-long timeline display in their headquarters lobby showcased the brand's rich history and commitment to top-quality journalism. These campaigns demonstrate the power of experiential marketing and how it can turn curious customers into loyal consumers. Below we will look at a collection of more recent experiential campaigns and their effectiveness.


A digital sports world from Nike. An illustration of a person with a basketball as a head is jumping, wearing Nike clothing. In the background we see an in game world.

Nikeland on Roblox:

Digital brand activations have gained traction in more recent times. They allow a brand to create a controlled brand experience that audiences can participate in, in their own time and create a personalised experience. Ahead of the pack in metaverse activations is Nike, with their activation Nikeland. The frontrunning brand launched its game activation in 2021 on the Roblox platform. In the game, players can play mini-games, including tag and dodgeball, and the floor is lava in a space that includes sports fields, arenas, and the Nike Headquarters.


Nike aims to continuously update the game to include current sporting events, like the world cup and hopes that the activation will be a strong awareness campaign for youth consumers. Players with accelerometers on their phones can use real-life movements to power their online adventures while they dress their avatars in current Nike collections. In the age of gamer culture, Nikeland is an effective way for Nike to connect with younger audiences; it’s sharable, able to be played at individual leisure and with friends, remotely linking into the current culture of online universes. The game also acts as a platform to showcase recent product releases that can be tried on in-game, which can prompt a player to convert into an off line customer.


Pros:

Brand awareness.

Product awareness.

Assists in connecting with GenZ audiences.

Personalisation.

Will encourage play.

Creates a bond between the customer and the brand.

Sharable.


Two men and a girl peering out from behind a wall. In the background three people are walking upstairs.

Hulu/ Only Murders In The Building Activation:

In a move to create buzz and connect with fans in the lead-up to the season 2 finale for Only Murders In the Building, Hulu collaborated with 1540 Productions to create a unique immersive experience for fans. Located in the Prince George's Ballroom in New York, the activation resembled the various locations of the show, including the deli, art gallery and the infamous apartment building itself. Attendees found secrets around every corner, just like the show, including hidden doors and interactive activations, including photo booths and the chance to paint on the mural in Mabel's apartment. The activation created an immersive world that encouraged social media sharing and anticipation for the season's finale and created a moment for fans to step into the world of the show, if just for a moment.


Pros:

Limited run that attracted mass interest.

Perfect for a social media moment, very sharable.

Viewer awareness.

Gave back to loyal viewers.


Two animated characters are smiling and holding hands. In the background we see a digital world full of colour.

Loooptopia by H&M:

H&M have turned to gamification for their activation, in a move that is sure to grab the attention of gen z customers and beyond. The Roblox activation is a collaboration between H&M and metaverse studio Dubit and is a move by the mega fast fashion brand to highlight their efforts in circular fashion and greater connect with youth audiences. In the game, players can navigate digital worlds and, along the way, can collect raw materials that they can use to create clothing in various combinations. Users can swap styles with friends online and recycle their digital wears to unlock prizes.


It’s a smart move by H&M as it will help attract the attention of and create connections with gen z customers, who are more environmentally conscious to many degrees. It can be played on the go, and there’s no limit to attendance. The brand's videos for the game are very sharable, and as the style of the activation is relatively new will help create cut through. The downside is that it does appear to be a little green-washy, and this is a risk many fast-clothing brands take in jumping on the sustainability bandwagon.


Pros:

Brand awareness.

Product awareness.

Brand connection.

Promotion of H&M’s values and brand essence.

Personalisation.

Sharable.



A brightly coloured petrol station

NBCUniversal, 'Quantum Leap' Reboot Launch:

To announce the launch of the rebooted series Quantum Leap, NBCUniversal created an experience that took participants back in time. Residents in Los Angeles were given the chance to drive through the accelerator and go back to 1985. Past the accelerator was a different world, one selling petrol at prices not seen since 1985, giveaways, dancers, activations, and everything to make the participant feel like they were at another time.


It was effective on many levels, the main being the feeling of goodwill it had on the audience as petrol prices were at an all-time high, so it alleviated a major pain point, it was of a grand scale and instantly sharable aiding its ability to be shared both on social media and through news outlets. The activation was echoed through 1985 priced cinema tickets through Fandango on the same day to further cement the creative and drive participants to watch the soon-to-be-launched series.


Pros:

Sharable.

Addressed customer pain points.

Awareness.

Connection.

Memorable.


Two animated charicters are fighting an animated creature in a subway station

Rick and Morty, Wormageddon Treasure Hunt:

To celebrate and draw attention to the launch of the greatly anticipated Rick & Morty series Adult Swim, in collaboration with Purple Rock Scissors, created a multi-country immersive treasure hunt. The event was a living episode that featured 14 unique and immersive scenes that bridged the events from the season five finale episode with the recently announced season six premiere. Fourteen custom scenes were featured in the event showing the worm’s destructive path and featuring fan-favourite Rick and Morty characters.


The treasure hunt activation started in Mexico City and through to other global cities, including Malibu, The Netherlands, Cape Town, and Sydney, where fans were invited to join the hunt and unlock clues to discover the story. To further the anticipation, the activation was teased with a countdown that, when concluded, started to reveal clues for the hunt. Immensely sharable, the event captured the attention of the show’s connected fan base, who eagerly shared their adventures online, adding to the activation’s exposure and viewers on launch day.


Pros:

Sharable.

Awareness.

Gave back to the audience.

Memorable.


6. Conclusion:

Though many of the activations above are of a grander scale, experiential marketing events can be created at the smaller scales while still producing a major impact. When looking to create a brand experience, think of your customers and any pain points they may have and how you could help alleviate them. Think of your brand perception and what some audiences may not know about you and look to creating an experience that sheds light and creates bonds. Most importantly, keep your activation, no matter the size, on brand and create a call to action.





Jane Hayes Consulting, Leading You Through The Digital World:

Jane Hayes Consulting is an independent digital marketing agency founded to help businesses create consistent, creatively aligned, and strategic content. Jane Hayes Consulting can help you put your best foot forward with our expertly crafted team covering website design and building, marketing strategy, content creation, brand creation, and project management. We work within budget restraints and look toward the future. Need assistance in developing your digital strategy and creating a business advantage? Contact Jane Hayes Consulting today and sign up for our newsletter.


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