Experiential marketing takes on greater importance as consumers place more focus on experiences over things.
- Three in four Millennials choose to spend money on experiences than buying something desirable.
- Eighty percent of Millennials participated in a live experience (concerts, festivals, performing arts, etc.) in the past year.
- Seventy percent of consumers believe participating in a live experience makes them more connected to the world.
- One in four consumers are more likely to recommend a brand to their friends after attending an event.
- Seventy-two percent of consumers say a friend’s post about a branded experience makes them more likely to purchase the brand.
- Seventy percent of consumers say they feel more positive about a brand after viewing content from experiences and events.
Source: Condé Nast, Event Track 2017 Study, Event Marketer
More than ever before, experiences matter.
Case in point: 70 percent of consumers say they feel more positive about a brand after viewing content from experiences and events.
In their presentation “23 + 29 = Adding Value for Brands through Authentic Experiences and Events,” at IEG 2018, Erica Boeke, vice president of experiential at 23 Stories/Condé Nast and Albie Hueston, creative director of experiential at Refinery29, shared tips, tactics and best practices on using experiences to create new fans, drive preference and build brand respect.
Below, their ten golden rules for creating meaningful IRL (in real life) moments.
#1) Define The Space
When ideating branded experiences, companies should identify what their competitors are doing—and move in the opposite direction.
“If beautycons are killing it, I’m going in the other direction. I’ll go deeper and create a smaller experience. People will pay a little more, but they will become super fans in their own way,” said Boeke.
Data and testing should play a role in defining the appropriate space, she added. Condé Nast used newsletters to collect audience data and hosted events in New York City and other markets to gauge interest in the Teen Vogue Summit.
“At each event we did focus groups and culled more data, all of which informed what the big event looked like.”
#2) Put The Audience First
Branded events need to be audience driven. That means allowing guests to contribute to the experience.
Hueston points to Refinery29’s 29Rooms as an example. The “funhouse of style, culture and creativity” features a speakeasy-themed room called The Dreamer’s Den where visitors are prompted to write down a recent dream. A waiter then takes the cards to a chanteuse, who turns three of the dreams into song.
“The mood of the room was directly inspired by the dreams of the audience.”
#3) Authenticity and Awe
Brands need to understand their audience, humanize the experience and champion authenticity when creating experiences.
Room No. 5 in 29Rooms is called The Womb, an experience that recreates what it’s like to be in the womb. The experience was simple, but got people talking.
“Some brands want to check a lot of KPIs, which is fine, but try not to overwhelm the guest,” said Hueston. “Tell one cohesive narrative that they’ll remember. This is about creating memories, and you have to package those memories in a way that is memorable.”
#4) Location, Location & Location
Location plays a pivotal role in the event experience, said Boeke.
“People often say ‘let’s do the event at the Javits Center’ or some other place where you can insert any brand. Location is a character in the play.”
New events should consider going to locations where their audience gathers, said Boeke, noting that Refinery29 launched 29Rooms as an ancillary event during New York Fashion Week. Other events that feature satellite activities include Coachella, Comic-Con and Southwest by Southwest.
When scouting venues, brands should look for facility operators who are willing to treat a relationship as a partnership, not just a transaction. Condé Nast secured venue space for free at New York City’s New School for the June 11 Teen Vogue Summit by offering to promote the venue in the event’s marketing initiatives.
“I try to find a space that is just opening, and I’m going to include the name of their venue in every press photo that I take.”
#5) Sensorial and Lasting
Successful branded experiences allow consumers to step into a brand and experience its flavors, attributes and traits, said Hueston.
Dunkin’ Donuts sponsored a room in 29Rooms that was inspired by the donut chain’s new bakery series coffee line. Refinery29 brought the flavors to life through tasting stations, coffee aromas and other touchpoints
“It brought the Dunkin’ Donuts brand to life in a way that was immersive and communicated the brand ethos more than just a logo.”
#6) Amplify or Die
Branded experiences can be expensive. Social and digital amplification is a must to extend their shelf life, said Boeke.
Case in point: Condé Nast gave attendees at the 2017 Glamour Women of the Year Awards the opportunity to break their own glass ceiling, a social touchpoint following the 2016 presidential election.
“Every attendee was able to break the glass, and it was sharable.”
Every event should give attendees the opportunity to become an ambassador, she Boeke, noting that social media moments can come in many forms. That includes lanyards and food offerings (Rice Krispy treats in the shape of a unicorn) at the Teen Vogue Summit and coffee mugs at the Vogue Forces of Fashion conference.
“You’d be surprised what turns into a social moment. Don’t just go with the big moment where there is an annoying line and not everyone will get in.”
#7) Use Technology Wisely
While technology is all the rage, brands need to use it wisely.
“Time and time again, brands think innovation means they have to use the craziest technology out there,” said Hueston. “Yes, you can use technology, but it needs to make sense for your brand. It’s important not to use technology for technology’s sake.”
#8) Heavily Vet Partners and Vendors
Brands should look for partners that understand the power of a partnership.
Condé Nast partnered with a designer to create a green room experience at the Academy Awards. The designer offered his services for free in exchange for promoting his skills to George Clooney and other celebrities at the event.
“You’re asking someone to do something for free, but they’re going to get something potentially much more lucrative out of it,” said Boeke.
The designer exceeded expectations by securing 86 flat screen TVs from Samsung to celebrate the 86th Academy Awards. The consumer electronics giant initially offered four TVs.
“When you bring in people who have skin in the game, they’re going to work harder.”
#9) Launch, Build And Activate
Creativity does not end with a well-conceived event. Brands must look to expand and re-imagine experiences while always raising the bar.
#10) Always Leave Them Wanting More
“Use what you haven’t given as teaser content for your next event,” said Boeke. “Always create a longing for more.