How Experiential Marketing Makes Customers Relate to a Brand Better

How Experiential Marketing Makes Customers Relate to a Brand Better

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Syed Aquib Ur
Syed Aquib Ur Rahman
Assistant Manager
Updated on Feb 14, 2024 18:20 IST

Through various innovative tactics like pop-up shops, digital experiences, and interactive events, brands leave a lasting impression and cultivate meaningful connections with their audience. Clubbed as the concept of experiential marketing, it's a strategic approach that transforms mere consumers into active participants, creating unforgettable experiences that resonate deeply. 

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Most marketers often get stuck while brainstorming about creating memorable experiences for customers. Successful ones prepare experiential marketing campaigns.

Defining Experiential Marketing

Experiential marketing is a marketing/advertising strategy to engage a target audience directly, so they can experience a brand first-hand. It helps to create an emotional response in the consumer, and, if done appropriately, can lead to greater brand awareness and lasting customer loyalty.  

Some also call it engagement marketing, event marketing, on-ground or field marketing, and live marketing.

Types of Experiential Marketing Approaches

Bernd Smith, founder and director of Columbia Business School’s Center on Global Brand Management, describes five types of experiential marketing approaches that can draw better brand connections with customers. 

  • Feel Marketing – Appealing to the consumer’s emotions.
  • Think Marketing – Charging the consumer’s intellect.
  • Act Marketing – Focusing on physical interactions and lifestyles of consumers.   
  • Relate Marketing – Focusing on the consumer’s need for belonging in a social context.
  • Sense Marketing – Appealing to the sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell of the consumers. 

Evolution of Experience Marketing

Over the century, marketers have created memorable first-hand brand experiences in several innovative ways. Pop-up shops and product sampling that we know today as in-person engagement tactics date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s in the United States. 

  • 1893 Chicago World’s Fair with Wrigley’s and Cracker Jack offering customers to sample their products is an early example of engaging customers live.
  • 1924 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade marketed to children and parents about the Macy’s Herald Square Store in Manhattan and was a massive success, leading it to be held every year till this day. 

After the turn of the millennium, the recent tech explosion combined with the difficult pandemic times have led marketers to shift their focus to creating experiences online.

Of late, experiential marketers have created lasting positive impressions through digital experiences. Modern consumers greatly enjoy in-person experiences through augmented or virtual reality events.

But offline interactive marketing tactics still work in creating a positive experience. Some brands today even take a hybrid approach to experiential advertising as an omnichannel strategy.

Difference Between Experiential Marketing and Traditional Marketing

The basis of the argument behind the difference between experiential and traditional marketing lies in how marketers approach the consumer. 

According to Bernd Schmitt, traditional marketing considers the consumer rational when they are at the bottom of the funnel to make a purchase decision. This is why the strategy to sell is based on the features and benefits of the product. 

On the other hand, experiential marketers consider the consumer needs some stimulation, entertainment, or even get challenged to buy a product or service. 

Why Experiential Marketing?

It helps a brand create a significantly deeper emotional connection that goes beyond smooth payouts or learning about benefits of the product. The impact on consumer behaviour is profound, especially when deciding to buy.

Keeping the brand experience immersive through an engagement/experiential marketing campaign is more customer-centric. In turn, the brand can increase customer lifetime value and, consequently, spend less on acquiring new customers. 

11 Pillars of Experiential Marketing

A good way to incorporate experiential marketing is to consider these 11 pillars. 

  1. Stand out: Be remarkable and let your brand's personality shine through.
  2. Engage: Use various technologies to captivate your audience with captivating content.
  3. Share: Ensure your campaign is easy to share across multiple platforms.
  4. Be authentic: Stay true to your brand's mission and values.
  5. Stay consistent: Maintain consistency in branding and messaging.
  6. Be flexible: Adapt to changes and unforeseen circumstances.
  7. Be personable: Show kindness and friendliness to connect with your audience.
  8. Be relatable: Understand your audience's needs and preferences.
  9. Be responsive: Promptly respond to feedback and interactions.
  10. Be SMART: Set specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound goals.
  11. Be targetable: Identify and cater to specific target market segments.

Examples of Successful Experiential Marketing Campaigns

Here are some of the most popular examples of brands that have succeeded in creating brand awareness and loyalty. 

Sennheiser Sound Tunnel

Sennheiser’s pop-up shop in SoHo is a striking example of experience marketing offline. As customers enter the Sound Tunnel, the sounds of the city outside start to attenuate, or fade away, creating a sense of separation from the outside world. This transition draws the customers’ attention to their sense of hearing and prepare them for the immersive audio experience ahead.

The Sound Tunnel is an immersive experience. It is a powerful example of experience marketing, as it creates a unique and immersive brand experience showcases the quality and performance of Sennheiser’s products and build customer loyalty.

Red Bull Stratos Campaign 

This experiential marketing campaign is one of the most talked about stunts in marketing history. Red Bull launched it back in 2012 with Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner. He attempted to break the record for the highest-ever skydive and did so by jumping from an altitude of around 39 kilometres. 

Apple Genius Bar 

Apple’s signature Genius Bar at its stores is one of the most popular examples of positive experience marketing.

The customer has to book an appointment and upon reaching their selected time slot, a concierge greets them just like it happens in a five-star hotel. Then the customer does not have to wait in queue. The store expert resolves their issues while offering helpful tips on using the hardware.

Key Takeaways for Marketers

An experiential marketing strategy is needed for creating interactive experiences that remain memorable. It not only leads to word-of-mouth marketing but also builds social engagement online and directs consumers to create long-term connections with brands. 

About the Author
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Syed Aquib Ur Rahman
Assistant Manager

Aquib is a seasoned wordsmith, having penned countless blogs for Indian and international brands. These days, he's all about digital marketing and core management subjects - not to mention his unwavering commitment ... Read Full Bio