Experiential marketing is a hot trend that brands are using to build loyalty. Everyone wants to wow the digital loving consumer with an unforgettable live brand experience. In this article, we examine brands that have effectively used experiential marketing to generate buzz and increase ROI.
Consumers are continuously inundated with new content from brands each day, making it even more challenging for businesses to gain an individual’s attention. Experiential marketing is allowing event industry leaders to create unique and memorable in-person experiences. This has transformed how brands connect and interact with consumers in a digitally-focused world. Research shows that organizations globally in 2018 and 2019, increase their experiential marketing budgets. During the past few years, we've seen a rise in an experience economy.
In this article, we will look at brands that are using experiential marketing to engage with new audiences.
1. Red Bull
The Red Bull brand has a long-time reputation for being a marketing powerhouse. The energy drink company was founded in Austria in 1987. Since then, the brand has continued to stand out in its approach to marketing and advertising. Red Bull’s success is attributed to brand awareness and event marketing through hosting activations in the extreme sports and music industry. Red Bull is one of the first global brands to partner with influencers and teams in the extreme sports industry to host events. According to Forbes.com, the Red Bull brand has sold a cumulative of 75 billion cans since it was introduced to the market in 1987.
Over the past two decades, Red Bull has really ramped up its activation and digital marketing strategies by creating its own in-house events and marketing agencies. Red Bull created Red Bull Media with a mission to inspire people to engage in adventure, entertainment, sports, and music. The in-house agency is divided into three subsets that focus on marketing products, content, and commercial project.
The content division of Red Bull Media focuses on building brand awareness through activation events. This team adds value to the brand by hosting sports, adventure, and music events that inspire people to engage with their content but also share at the same time. By creating experiential marketing events like sponsoring a sports team, hosting music and film festivals, Red Bell has tapped into a new target market but also expanded its reach globally.
Red Bull doesn’t just sponsor events. They create their own events for their typical target audience. For several years the brand has sponsored a Soapbox competition, which encourages all ages to build their own race car and enter to win a Red Bull sponsored race.
The key takeaway from Red Bull is to step outside the norm when marketing your events, don’t just focus on selling a product, create experiences your target audience wants to see, and sponsor events you know they will want to attend.
In 2016, Airbnb announced that it was changing its marketing strategy to move beyond just being a travel company. The company went public to announce that it would be providing experiential experiences to consumers.
“A couple of things. Airbnb did democratize travel because we created greater access for people all over the world to travel the world. But it's still not a fully democratic business because to participate as a host, you have to have a home. But now, as we're moving into experiences, you no longer need a home. You've just got to have an interest in people and a passion that other people find interesting. So now we can connect everybody. It's also experiential-based, so the marketing itself needs to be very democratic, and it also needs to move into more of an experiential mindset than a traditional mindset,” said former Airbnb CMO Jonathon Mildenhall in Adweek.
Airbnb launched Airbnb experiences, a feature on the platform that allows people to try new things in new destinations. The experiences go beyond allowing people to sign up for travel tours, it lets guests experience things like a local. In 2018, Airbnb launched Airbnb concerts allowing app users the opportunity to attend private live shows around the world.
The key takeaway from Airbnb is to continue to create new experiences for your existing attendee base. Airbnb knew they had a large and growing audience that they need to keep engaged, so they launched a unique experience that tapped into their fan’s interests.
3. American Express
When you think of a financial services company like American Express, the last thing you think of is event marketing. However, the financial brand does a fantastic job at planning experiential events. American Express uses the audience insights it has from its existing customer base to craft tailored experiences for its target attendee. They want every consumer to feel valued when attending one of their events. Last year, Amex invested in launching new features at Coachella, a large music festival hosted in the United States. Amex cardholders were given exclusive access to a unique AR commerce experience, where they could purchase Coachella swag. The financial brand also gave cardholders access to an on-site VIP air-conditioned lounge area where they could rest and recharge.
The key takeaway from American Express is to provide your existing customer base with unique VIP experiences. This is your time to pamper then and let them experience new product offerings from your brand.
4. LG Electronics
Earlier this year, LG Electronics teamed up with Pantone Color Institute to bring a pop-up café called Cafe OLED named after LG's Organic Light-Emitting Diode TVs to New York City. The electronics company and the color institute partnered to showcase how LG’s newest TV product emphasized the power of color and the human sense through taste, sight, and touch. Customers dined on delicious delights while local baristas served flavored lattes and desserts inspired by four colors in Pantone's Summer 2019 Fashion Color Trend Report.
The pop-up café acted as a showroom to show off the new color collection and the new TVs on the market.
“Bringing an emotional connection into both the physical and digital space, enabling the exploration of color psychology and distilling the relationship between color and senses," said LG in the press release announcing the event.
The important takeaway from this event is that sometimes collaboration is key when trying to create an innovative experience. LG and Pantone both have complementary products that were promoted. The brands used food and sensory to heighten the attendee experience.
We only scratched the surface in the article to feature top brands that are creating unique and out of the box event experience. There are several more brands that we could add to the list that every event industry professional could take away some key learnings.