Emerging technologies are rapidly reshaping the way consumers interact with brands. While brands are becoming more focused on the customer experience, consumers’ cravings for realness and new experiences ensure that brands are always engaged in continuous innovation.
The momentum has been building for several exciting trends such as augmented reality events, scavenger hunts, gamification and mobile interactivity. In such dynamic environment, while brands are looking at being in control of information, people are delivering the message in their own way by making it relevant to their own social groups.
Ultimately, this is leading us to ‘learn, unlearn and re-learn’ on the way people are using brands and how are they talking about their life experiences. Therefore, our question is: how should brands use this mix of interactive channels to give people something to talk about and change their behaviour? Taking this into account, we identified five key trends in experiential marketing that are changing the way people see and engage with brands.
1. Retail wow
The connectivity is influencing consumers spending habits in a myriad of ways. It’s not only physical retailers that are venturing into the online world, online retailers are also looking at reach out to consumers in the real world. Tesco’s and Ocado’s virtual pop up shops are great examples of real online engagement with consumers when they are out and about.
While e-commerce in on the increase, most people still enjoy shopping in the real world. When customers are out shopping, they seek entertainment and expect to have a more personal experience, which they can’t attain by shopping online. That’s why creating a fun and entertaining retail experience is key for brands to emotionally engage with their customers.
This year, we’ve seen great examples of fashion brands such as Daffy’s and Nordstrom using experiential marketing to attract passers-by to their shopping window. However, brands should not forget that the experience inside the store needs to be as engaging as outside to inspire consumers, drive sales and gain loyalty.
2. Digital high
People are always looking to try the next big thing; they want to be challenged with exciting experiences that will bring value to their lives. Innovative technologies such as digital signage , multi-touch displays, kinect and image recognition have been playing at the forefront to enrich the experience consumers have with brands and products.
Indeed, people love talking about their lives and experiences. By utilising such technologies through sensitive creative campaigns, brands will be able to deliver exceptional experiences that consumers will be more likely to share with their friends. Some examples of interactive campaigns, which engaged people into some amazing digital experiments were the Heineken mirror installation and the Miller ‘Aliens Stole my Beer’.
3. Keep it real
Social networks are proving a great source of content as people are publicly disclosing more and more about their daily lives and whereabouts. According to research, 92% of brands use Facebook as the main social media tool to market their business. Indeed, Facebook is a great tool where brands can be creative and offer an open channel of communication with their customers. However, how brands are using their online communities to start conversations?
By being part of an online brand community, consumers feel that they have a chance of receiving special deals as well as being the first to know about new products and services. They want to feel overwhelmed and have their questions answered in real time.
We’ve been constantly discussing how experiential marketing can harness the power of social media. People want to be surprised and entertained and by creating a real brand experience, it will certainly give them something to talk about, with valuable content that is worth sharing. Yet, the physical experience can be amplified and multiplied through brand communities and, therefore, bring more value to the social experience.
As the gamification trend gains its momentum, the integration of game mechanics in non-game environments has proven a great tool to increase brand engagement and loyalty. We recently discussed how interactive media can be used in an experiential space. Promo vehicles and eye catching structures tied to a particular location can harness the power of interactive media and amplify the opportunity to assist the audience in a wider variety of spaces.
Yet, research has proven that game apps can enhance people’s experience with brands and drive engagement in a fun a playful way. A recent example of a clever integration of offline and online media is the Ariel Fashion Shoot event, using a Facebook app to trigger a real stain cannon at clean clothes. While in the offline world, Budweiser have delighted us with a giant poolball experiment, which generated real brand engagement and some great buzz online.
5. Acts of Kindness
Scavenger hunts are at the top! This is because new technologies such as location based services are creating an open channel for brands to build challenging experiences, appealing to an emotional engagement of being rewarded. A recent example is from the American car brand Dodge. They have recently completed a scavenger hunt, integrating with social media and google maps to give away three new cars.
As good content comes from real experiences, by integrating social elements with physical evolvement, brands can break through the clutter and start conversations with consumers in an easier way. It’s all about going social and enriching the online experience in the same way they are challenging consumers to go offline and interact with the brand in the real world.
All this chatter leads us to the end thought – when planning your marketing spend for 2012, remember that consumers will always be craving for the next product with enhanced features. Consumers are expecting more engagement and relevant offers from brands and, therefore, marketers need to think outside the box and develop deeper insights on what motivates their audience.
Brands that continue to respond with a host of innovative activities, producing a fresh approach with compelling content will always be more likely to encourage their audience to share their message, increasing awareness and driving sales.
Hotcow help brands understand the power of experiential marketing and offers expertise in how to develop, plan and execute campaigns in the right way to get the right results. We are always on the look out for the latest trends so contact us to speak about a strategic approach to true consumer engagement.