In the age of social media, brands must engage consumers in a memorable experience in order to grab their attention. Online E-commerce has contributed to the steady decline of foot traffic through brick-and-mortar stores as consumers choose online convenience over in-person shopping experiences. Due to the shift in consumer purchasing habits, brands are getting more strategic with the way they lure customers into their stores by having them interact with their brand through activations and experiential marketing.
Try Before You Buy
If you’ve ever been to a grocery store you have probably encountered a brand activation. This occurs most frequently with free samples of foods and drinks. Brands decide to launch a new product, or re-launch marketing of an old one, and activate consumers in a store where their product is purchased. Activations draw in customers by allowing them the opportunity to try before they buy. It also furthers brand awareness with a positive experience. Even if the activation does not yield high numbers of conversions, customers are now more familiar with the brand since their “value is activated or realized by the consumers.” The consumer is now able to make a connection and leave with a clear impression of the brand.
Marketing activations sometimes offer a coupon or bundled deal, such as a BOGO or discount offer to incentivize consumers to purchase the product on the spot. Consumers are more likely to make an impulsive purchase decision if they try it first. In fact, according to V12, 49% of consumers say, “not being able to touch, feel or try a product is one of their least favorite aspects of online shopping”. Most companies will go the extra step by making a display of products for purchase at their sample table. This makes it harder for customers to say no when they don’t have to search the store for it.
Forget Me, Not
Experiential Marketing, also known as event marketing, live marketing or participation marketing, is similar to brand activation but takes the consumer engagement to the next level. Brands set up experiences that influencers can take part of and share with their followers. Influencer or not, social media users want to have creative content and posts that will generate a lot of likes. In turn, consumers create a buzz and generate free publicity for the brand by posting, hashtagging and sharing their experience. Companies are able to develop brand loyalty through the relationship they build with their customer base through these experiences.
A successful example of experiential marketing is German sporting equipment company, Globetrotter, which specializes in winter jackets for extremely cold weather conditions. Globetrotter understands that winter coats are expensive and require a lot of decision making for consumers, which is why they allow customers to try on winter jackets and sit in the store’s freezer chamber (which drops to as low as -30 degrees). This experience shows consumers the quality and value of their products and how they will serve them once they leave the store to brace the cold.
Not only does this ensure the brand’s marketing efforts are more successful by allowing you to try before you buy, it gives people a reason to shop at the store and interact with the brand in a more personal way. Consumers line up to try on a jacket and enter their freezing chamber as the brand provides engaging social content as well as an endorsement for the brand itself. This kind of experiential marketing gives shoppers a reason to visit the store and potentially purchase a Globetrotter coat while providing a memorable experience they want to share with their family, friends and followers. If executed properly, experiential marketing is a win-win, creating buzz for the brand while also supplying consumers with one-of-a kind experiences that involves emotions.
The key takeaway from experiential marketing and brand activations is to get creative and think outside of the box. Remember, it’s all about breaking through the noise and giving bystanders a reason to stop and interact with your brand. With how essential user experience has become to consumers, it is imperative to offer them a memorable experience they can share while spreading your brand’s message through social media. Through creating a positive and unique experience with your brand, you can convert your consumers into evangelists, while they spread the word for you.
About The PM Group: The PM Group was founded in 1988. Over the past 30 years, the agency has continued to grow and is currently listed as San Antonio’s Largest Advertising Agency by the San Antonio Business Journal. The PM Group’s client roster spans numerous industries including automotive, CPG, entertainment and sports marketing, legal, business services, non-profit, real estate and fitness. In addition, the agency hosts an annual Charity Gala every February that to date has raised over $3 million for local San Antonio area non-profit organizations in the last 15 years! It is our way of giving back to the community that we so humbly serve.