Let’s say your favourite brand introduces a new product to the market and you don’t quite seem convinced about this new product, or you want to try it out and learn more about it before you purchase. Experiential marketing is a new form of marketing communication that seeks to create a new customer experience with the company. The aim of experiential marketing is not to inform, persuade and remind, like other forms of marketing communications. Rather, the aim is to create an experience that will leave a lasting, positive impression within the customers’ minds.
How does it work?
Marketing experiences aimed at the customer can take a variety of forms; almost anything the marketer can imagine. Since this form of marketing communication does not have the same aims as other marketing communication tools, marketers have more freedom and almost boundless scope.
I can give an example of an experiential marketing campaign run by Panasonic to create awareness for a new camera. Panasonic wanted to draw attention to the optical zoom feature of the new camera that enabled users to enlarge anything eight times its normal size. Panasonic placed larger-than-life sculptures of a pigeon, traffic cone, and a cup in certain cities in the United Kingdom (UK). Panasonic then tied the experience to a sales promotion competition on Facebook where camera users could take and post their own images where everyday objects were distorted to show off the camera zoom function.
Experiential marketing is designed to connect with customers in a unique, unusual, unexpected and memorable way. It allows customers to have a more personal interaction with the company and does not feel like a ‘sales opportunity’; rather it is simply an enjoyable experience for customers. This adds to the total customer experience by enhancing the positive feelings towards the company, and the strengthening of the bond the customers feel with the company. This can be done for the following reasons:
–To identify with a customer profile:
Marketers are able to attract a particular group of customers to their offering and encourage them to engage with it. The experience the marketers created can be tailored to appeal to a customer profile, based on their demographic and behavior graphic details.
–To increase awareness of the company or product or service being offered:
By using an exciting and memorable experience to interact with customers, the company will create a stronger memory, increase brand awareness, and allow the company to leverage the positive associations created by the interaction.
–To create or reinforce positive perceptions customers already have:
Experiential marketing creates its own positive perceptions, but if the perceptions created by the experience are aligned with existing perceptions, the company is able to reinforce those existing perceptions. The experience will allow the company to engage with customers in a way that is suited to their current opinions and attitudes towards the offering.
–To enhance overall likability:
Experiencing marketing activities may serve purely to make customers like a company, or its offering more. Providing customers with an opportunity to have some fun and engage with an offering on a different level increases their liking towards the company.
–To add an emotional dimension to the customer experience:
Experiential marketing is intended to make the customers’ interaction more personal, by adding an emotional element. Feelings of fun, involvement, excitement or learning are all benefits of experiential marketing that the customer will then associate with the company and its offering
–To entertain and reward:
Often experiential marketing campaigns are limited to a select group of customers and other stakeholders who the company has specifically chosen to enjoy the unique experience. This is done when the company wishes to improve the bond it has with a specific group. This type of experience will make the group feel special and appreciative of the company’s efforts to entertain them.
–To increase engagement with merchandise and other promotional activities:
Experiential marketing can be used to make ordinary marketing activities more appealing to customers instead of running a normal product launch, a company may combine the launch with some sort of experience to identify more with the customer profile being targeted, like the Panasonic example used previously.
Although experiential marketing has many benefits and offers marketers much more freedom in terms of the type of experience that can be offered, it is still important that marketers start first by assessing what customers would like to get out of such activities, as well as what the company would like to achieve.