By Lisa Major
There is a clear difference between the traditional marketing tactics of the past and the new age of marketing, particularly experiential marketing. Simply stated, we’re talking immersion versus passivity.
According to this Forbes article, “93% of consumers claim that live events have a larger influence on them than TV ads.” When consumers experience a brand first-hand through a positive, compelling, and meaningful interaction, those feel-good vibes translate into memorable moments that create deep-rooted bonds. And that’s what makes experiential marketing so powerful.
Without question, experiential marketing is extremely impactful and effective. With brands allocating more of their marketing budget to the strategy year after year, it’s important for marketers to stay on top of the latest trends to ensure their campaigns are successful. Below, we’ll dive into a few trends that we expect will take hold in 2020.
We know that Millennials and Gen Z prefer experiences over tangible items. We also know that they are in the driver’s seat when it comes to pushing for solutions to combat climate change. With that said, brands realize that to win over these key consumers, they need to create and design event experiences that make sustainability a priority. From zero-waste events to energy-efficient footprints to using reusable and recycled materials, sustainable events are set to be a gamechanger for the industry.
Nothing gets the blood pumping more than the thrill of competition, and most consumers will dive-in for the thrill of the chase (even more than the win). Challenges are fun, invigorating and make for shareable experiences that create strong memories. Whichever gamification strategy a brand chooses, there should be a balanced blend of sensory elements and technology to elevate the overall consumer experience.
Don’t worry, we’re not talking about a Fyre Festival disaster…we’re talking about extending marketing events into overnighters. Stayable events give brands more time to fully engage attendees in a spectrum of shareable, immersive, and oh-so personalized experiences. For example, Casper and One Night teamed up to offer a super immersive overnight experience during SXSW. Lucky guests stayed at the historic Austin Motel, were chauffeured around town in a Tesla, and of course, got to sleep on a comfy Casper mattress. In 2020, we expect to see more of these types of experiences, especially at larger festivals.
Experiential marketing forges powerful connections between consumers and brands through various touchpoints. But when all the touchpoints connect and relate to one another, that equates to an immersive brand story. Creating an experience map allows marketers to understand how consumers will perceive and interact with each touchpoint within the activation. By putting themselves in the consumer’s shoes and considering everything from the entrance design to sensory elements to messaging and more, marketers will be able to better evaluate the audience’s journey and turn good a story into a great one.
Consumers want positive changes to take place in the world around them and there’s an expectation for brands to play a part in that. Corporate stewardship and social good are two things that poll very strongly with millennials and Gen Z. In fact, this study found that “more than nine in ten millennials would switch brands to one associated with a cause.” But these two generations are also more skeptical of brands and their intentions. For this reason, socially responsible brands should focus on creating experiential campaigns that are purpose-driven to prove their commitment to a cause, and moreover, that their commitment reaches far beyond the walls of the event.
Art installations, whether analog or digital, are increasingly popping up within experiential marketing activations and in some cases, art is the experience. Beautiful works of art create a memorable brand impression that evokes emotion, creativity, and inspiration. Furthermore, these highly immersive and visually appealing designs make for super shareable moments that fuel user-generated content. Marketers should consider collaborating with local artists or designers to bring the brand into a community in an intimate way.
With each passing year, experiential marketing becomes more engaging, technical, and more immersive. And as the industry evolves, the brand ambassador role must adapt to keep up. Based on this Event Marketer article, we predict that there will be an even greater need for highly-skilled, experienced and specialized brand ambassadors and event staff in 2020.
It’s always fun to see which trends stick around and which ones fizzle out. Whatever happens, it’s important for brands and experiential marketers to keep tabs on the latest trends to ensure they stay ahead of the game.