The use of Experiential Marketing in the non-alcoholics drinks industry

use of Experiential Marketing

With research showing that the non-alcoholic drinks industry in Europe and the USA was worth a mammoth $241 billion dollars in 2005 and an increasingly discerning UK consumer market demanding high-quality, healthy, natural products it doesn’t take a thorough understanding of economics to observe that the non-alcoholic market is a strongly contested one.

Some industry observers are predicting up to 45% growth in the non-alcoholic sector over the next five years and, with pursuit of a healthy lifestyle becoming ever more widespread, it’s difficult to fault this point of view.

Furthermore, there’s no lack of documentation supporting the assertion that today’s marketplace is more fiercely contested than ever before. Pete Davis, managing Director of, says that “the pace of change in technology and consumer behaviour is at an unprecedented level, the media landscape is increasingly complex and fragmented and brand owners now have to negotiate a minefield of ethical and corporate responsibility concerns”.

It’s no surprise then that in order to be competitive brands are increasingly turning to marketing strategies that generate buzz around their product. One market leader – Innocent drinks – has, in the past four years, graduated from promoting their brand out of decorated vans, to holding a festival they termed “Fruitstock”, to turning London’s Regents Park into a weekend-long village fete – a direct result being that, according to Brand Index they now occupy the position of second fastest rising UK brand in terms of customer recognition and regard.

Today’s marketers are having to be more original, creative and clever than ever and are turning to experiential marketing to give them their edge. It is no longer enough to be highly visible (or even necessarily desirable – just ask InBev, producers of Stella Artois, a brand that is currently suffering terribly from associative publicity and an unwelcome high profile), a tangible connection is needed with the market.

This is where agencies like Hotcow come in. Specialising in communication and entertainment they design full service “brand experiences” aimed at capturing and retaining the target market.

They would also be the first to state that any modern campaign cannot limit itself to one discipline or direction. In fact Hotcow say that for campaigns to achieve optimum results their experiential marketing should run in tandem with more traditional disciplines such as media buying or print campaigns, it is this multi-faceted approach is what makes a brand stand out from the crowd and allows it to reach as many potential customers as possible.

The creation of face-to-face interaction with the target market is an important starting point for any experiential campaign. Here Hotcow employ a principle of “motivation, inclusion, immersion” – providing an incentive to attract an audience, including them in the activity and, ultimately, immersing them in the brand concept.

A near perfect example of this kind of activity can be found in the annual Redbull Flugtag competition; competitors are invited to attempt to construct a flying machine which they then use to compete against others, winners receive excellent prizes (normally flying lessons valued in the thousands of pounds) and the whole competition brings alive Red Bull’s product slogan “Red Bull Gives You Wings”.

In the three years this event has been running it has regularly attracted over 10,000 entrants and has now expanded to 20 cities globally…Red Bull has also firmly established itself in the consumer conscience.

Though huge events like these provide excellent reference to for today’s modern marketers a note of caution is also needed. It is important to identify the specific type of marketing activity required – both through observation and through consultation with the client.

All experiential marketing activity pursued by Hotcow is done so after a rigorous process of research and client communication. This decides their campaign approach and whether it will be ambient, guerrilla, buzz or experiential.

Consumers have and always will buy new products on the principle that it will somehow enhance their lifestyle. Communicating that a product will and then demonstrating this fact is the goal of all marketing.

Experiential marketing agencies like Hotcow are in a unique position to succeed with their blend of technology, creativity and targeted operations. Successful campaigns will make a brand and heavily influence trade take up in a way that traditional media alone cannot hope to achieve.

As Pete Davis says; “Ultimately, the best campaigns are those that are targeted and relevant. Really understanding what options are available to you, and knowing how to apply and execute them with originality, are the secrets of success”.

In a market with as much growth potential, financial reward and consumer interest as the non-alcoholic drinks industry it’s safe to say that we’ll be seeing more and more of the experiential side of marketing in the coming years. Hotcow will hope to be at the forefront building on their already excellent reputation.

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