Experiential marketing has emerged as a powerful way for brands to cut through the noise and connect with consumers in new and novel ways.
With spending on experiential on the rise, we expect brands to grow bolder, taking more creative risks and pushing the boundaries on innovation in the coming year.
At the same time, consumers will continue to look for unique and original experiences and ways to connect – providing opportunities for savvy marketers to drive business ROI.
Here are our predictions on what’s hot in 2020, to help you make the most of this exciting and ever-changing landscape.
1. Tickets, please!
Put a price on your event to drive engagement and credibility.
Consumers are great at recognising when they’re being marketed to. Ticketed events feel more credible for the audience as they’re not getting something for free (or rather, in exchange for a sales pitch!). And, let’s face it, if people are willing to spend money on attending your event, they’re already invested in its success. For brands with limited marketing budgets, this can be a win, win.
Who’s doing it?
Tech companies have aced this approach, with B2B software vendors regularly charging hundreds of dollars for customers to attend what are effectively product roadshows on steroids. Think Adobe Experience Summit, Google Cloud Next or Cisco Live!
If your brand hosts an annual customer summit, this could be an option to expand its reach and impact. With more budget to spend, ticketed events can be larger in scale, leaving a lasting impression and creating memories that spark conversation (and brand recall) for years to come.
2. Stay a while
Extend your experience for greater ROI.
Relationships take time… so why not extend your experiential campaign beyond just a few hours? Hosting a stayable experience gives your brand a chance to engage attendees with hours of intimate and personalised experiences that will leave a lasting impression.
Who’s doing it?
Travel and hospitality companies, like Marriott’s W Hotels, pioneered this trend, but we expect it to cross over this year as brands look for novel ways to engage with consumers.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to book an entire island or host a festival to make the most of this tactic! Instead, you could extend your corporate marketing event into an overnighter by hosting an intimate, 5-star experience for a select group of prospects at your next conference.
3. Engage the senses
Create a branded moment with multi-sensory experiences.
What better way to create an unforgettable brand experience than through immersion? There are some truly novel and engaging multi-sensory brand experiences emerging of late. Break rooms, escape rooms, curiosity rooms… the list goes on.
It’s a guaranteed way to transport your audience to a new and novel destination, limited only by your imagination. So why not get creative and design an interactive light and sound exhibit, or focus on just one of the senses, like sound, with an interactive sound spa?
Who’s doing it?
The Lush Creative Showcase set a benchmark for immersive experiences, where attendees could ‘get their hands dirty’ by interacting with an incredible array of sights, smells and textures. Though if you’re not a perfume brand, don’t worry. This one works for brands of all shapes and sizes.
Consider including immersive touchpoints at a larger event, like the 35m long, 180-degree wrap-around screens with surround sound and lighting we delivered for this national business meeting. Or go full tilt and create an immersive pop-up installation for a new product launch. There are no rules. Just think about what you want people to associate with your brand (innovative? smart? fashionable?) and communicate that one idea or feeling through the specific setting of your immersive experience.
4. Leverage data and content
Maximise audience engagement across all touchpoints.
Smart marketers are using AI-driven insights and data to design more engaging brand experiences that reflect the values, purpose and interests of their audience members.
What’s more, they’re leveraging those data-fueled insights to deliver personalised content that creates a rich and seamless end-to-end experience for the audience.
Given the time and resources required to deliver a great experiential campaign or event, it makes sense to leverage every possible touchpoint; before, during and after.
Research shows that content is the most important element of a live event for attendees. But often, outside of the event program itself, content doesn’t get a second thought. Spend some time thinking through the whole experience you want attendees to have, right from the first time they hear about your event or activation.
96% of attendees look for information prior to attending an event, and 90% continue that search post-event.
5. Get ‘appy
Get smart with tech to measure your success.
It wouldn’t be a trends list without making mention of event tools and apps. As with all technology, event tech must serve a purpose for the user, or it won’t be widely adopted. So rather than a one size fits all approach, smart, custom-designed applications will provide an invisible layer that connects, informs and engages attendees throughout the duration of your experience. Practical tools like access to meeting and event schedules, materials and ways to connect with other attendees are the highest rated. Apps also provide an important digital touchpoint that allows marketers to measure the impact of their event and gain feedback in real time.
88% of event attendees say access to meeting or event schedules in an event app is extremely important
– Marketing Charts 2018
6. It’s personal
Ditch the one-size-fits-all approach.
Personalisation is the single biggest trend in marketing right now, and the experiential space is no different. With a wealth of customer data, AI-driven insights, VR, AR and digital distribution, it’s possible to deliver a level of personalisation never seen before.
Whether you personalise your entire experience, or focus on personalising the program, app or specific content, there are almost unlimited ways to design a custom experience for each and every audience member.
Research shows that experiences promote greater happiness and are talked about more often than ‘things’ ever will be. Shared experiences are essential for building relationships, both with people, and brands.
At Aesthetic, we’re always keeping our finger on the pulse and researching global trends in experiential marketing to inform our solutions. Do you have a project you’d like to chat about?