The power of experiential marketing

Twenty years ago, Joseph Pine and James Gilmore published the book ‘The Experience Economy’. While World Expos, product demonstrations, theatrical and sponsorship activations have been used for over a century, the definition around the marketing experience did not really exist until 1999.

Today, the prolific growth of online, social sharing, the ability to investigate and socialise a place or product is reaching saturation. This is causing an equally seismic change in the need for more meaningful experiences. Participation, emotional involvement and most importantly, learning and broadening understanding is the way to deepen engagement with a brand or its products.

Behavioural Economist, Dan Ariely recently noted; ‘As basic needs are met with greater ease, humans find a wide variety of psychological avenues for quenching their consumption thirst.’ In other words, when people have acquired enough material possessions, they look to experiences.

Creating that all important emotional connection between brands and customers is proving just as difficult in a world where data creates communities and technologies deliver experiences. Our hyper-connected, digitised life significantly reduces our opportunity to connect socially, in a human and face to face way.

Twenty years ago people were bombarded with 1,500 advertising messages a day. A recent report by Canvas8 suggests that the figure has increased to 5,000 times a day. Lifting a company, an initiative, or a product out of the ordinary and achieving cut through is becoming ever more challenging.

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Moments that matter
The live event when using clear narrative becomes experiential because it speaks to the right audiences. It creates moments that matter, evokes emotional responses, deeper relationships and creates meaningful memories that can be cherished, re-visited or shared over a number of channels.

Brands are creating moments with intent through the use of experiential. Two such examples are HMV’s vault in Birmingham, the largest dedicated entertainment store with live performance areas in Europe and Tiffany’s café in Beverly Hills or their perfume vending machine in London. Online retailers like Amazon understand that 56% of online shoppers still prefer the bricks and mortar experience which is why the company opened it’s first ‘Clicks and Mortar’ store in Manchester this year. The pop-up industry in the UK is currently worth £2.3 billion – it could be argued that this sector will go a significant way to reviving the high street (NME).

Experiential is not just confined to retail or exhibitions. The ‘phygital’ space – using a blend of physical and digital experiences can deliver a unique and deeper understanding, using virtual and reality, it can showcase digital clothes on physical models, add emotion to an innovation and ultimately change the way people live their lives, because they feel what it means to themAt M, we believe that Experiential is all about 360 marketing. Brands are spending a higher proportion of their budgets on marketing events, driving interest, awareness and visitation through pre-event awareness, the experience itself and measuring engagement levels post the event.

Putting experiences at the centre of your strategy
We see venues as an additional channel to the overall marketing mix rather than a stand-alone activity. In some cases, the venue is foremost to the message. Using live experiences is an organic way to interact with people. With people becoming ever time poor – organisations need to ‘attract and detract’ using purposeful messages. Live experiences that can demonstrate purpose, intent and sustainable approaches will become ever more popular.

Next year, M will celebrate 30 years in business. During that time we have had the privilege to work with the most creative and inspiring companies around the world; from launching the PlayStation Experience to our award winning mixed reality STEM Careers programme for the RAF. We know that to experience the right kind of interaction can change a relationship in an instant.

Experience creates emotional connections but only when that experience resonates with the audience on a sensory and a rational level. Looking forward to 2020 we believe that brands will need to deliver ever more acute and deeper experiences in one of two very distinct ways. They become more socially aware, accessible, reach more people and experience higher participation levels. Or they become more discreet and exclusive and therefore enjoy higher engagement levels.

Simply, brands have a question to answer about how they approach experiential – broad approach or targeted and aspirational?