Experiential Marketing: How to Maximize Profits and Customer Engagement in 2022 [+ Examples]

If you’re considering launching an experiential marketing campaign, you’re on the right track! Experiential marketing goes beyond standard marketing tactics and gives your customers a tangible, real-life experience of your products’ best features.

Brands host events or experiences to attract customers to their products through participation. This marketing strategy also makes it easy to engage customers, quickly build brand awareness and develop a positive brand reputation.

And not forgetting, buyers love experiential marketing campaigns! 74% of customers are likely to buy products promoted in an experiential marketing campaign. And 70% turn into repeat buyers after an experiential marketing event! 

But experiential marketing is easier said than done. You need to invest time, money, and resources for success. Most brands don’t know where to start, what event or experience to host, and how to achieve their desired results. 

Don’t worry, we’ll make this much simpler for you!

We’ve done our research and created an end-to-end guide on what experiential marketing is, the top benefits and key takeaways, and the best use cases you can learn from!

Ready to launch your experiential marketing campaign and drive customer engagement through the roof?

Let’s get started!

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    What is Experiential Marketing?

    Experiential marketing or engagement marketing is a strategy that invites consumers to experience your products through participation. An experiential marketing strategy encompasses a tangible approach to engaging customers in a real-world brand experience.

    Traditional marketing strategies revolve around customers receiving your brand’s message. But experiential marketing allows businesses immerse buyers in how they convey their missions. Because of this, experiential marketing strategies create memorable connections between a brand and its consumers.

    Rather than conveying your story like traditional marketing, experiential marketing brings buyers into your story. You don’t have to abandon standard marketing techniques. Leverage both strategies to develop deeper customer relationships.

    And in case you’re wondering, we’ll look at some top examples of experiential marketing further below:

    Summary: What is Experiential Marketing?

    Experiential marketing is also known as engagement marketing, and is a strategy that allows brands to provide a tangible product experience through customer participation.

    Source: Brand Master Academy

    Experiential Marketing Benefits

    Connect with Customers

    The most significant and outright advantage of experiential marketing is that it allows businesses to connect with their customers in a meaningful and personal way. This connection is more direct than through traditional marketing, as customers get a hands-on experience with your brand, and more memorable too. 

    Experiential marketing is far from intrusive. Instead, it’s fun and interactive. You can market to buyers while they remain in their comfort zones. For example, instead of using an ad campaign for blatant marketing, you’re inviting buyers to experience your product for themselves.

    You’ll notice customers are much more likely to engage with your business and learn more about your product. Just over 90% of customers are more inclined to purchase products in an experiential marketing campaign. 40% of these buyers feel it helps them develop brand loyalty more effectively.  

    Build Brand Awareness

    We now know that buyers respond better to experiential marketing. And this makes it easier to build brand awareness for your business. Whether or not customers purchase your product on the spot, you’ve delivered an immersive, unforgettable experience. 

    Think about this in practice. You have an ad campaign highlighting your products’ best features and value. But on the other hand, you invite customers to experience your offerings in real-life. 

    Which interaction do you think would motivate them to talk more about your brand?

    Yep, the experiential approach!

    This authentic strategy puts buyers in the center of your brand, giving them more reason to remember you and share their experiences with others. Just short of 80% of customers share their favorite brand experiences with their peers at least once a week.

    You’re not just building brand awareness but doing it with word-of-mouth marketing (WOM) as the foundation. And WOM is a marketing strategy that works. 

    experiential marketing stats
    Source: FinancesOnline

    Develop a Positive Brand Reputation 

    Reputation management can make or break a business. How customers perceive your brand determines whether they trust you, will tell others about you, or buy your products.

    First impressions matter, and an experiential marketing strategy sets the stage for an outstanding brand experience. You can include visual or physical interactions, fun giveaways, or competitions to make a mark on your target audience. 

    And if you successfully deliver an exceptional experience, buyers will see you in a positive light. 

    For example, a new burger joint pops up and hosts an all-you-can-eat burger eating contest. The winner gets a 30% voucher for their next visit. How many people that you know will love participating in this contest? 

    After the contest, buyers would still chat about it and reminisce about how much fun it was. They would tell their friends and family how shocking it was to see people eat so many burgers and who chowed down the most to claim the winner’s title.

    Every time buyers see this burger brand again, they will associate it with joyful memories. 

    Put Your Product In Consumers’ Hands

    Most traditional marketing tactics we know are effective, but customers can’t physically experience your products. With an experiential marketing approach, you give customers a real-life feel for your products. 

    Customers will have a first-hand experience of how your products can add value to their lives. So it will be harder for them to walk away empty-handed. 

    And again, we can easily notice how this would be effective in a real-world scenario. 

    If you see an email newsletter promoting a new massage chair, you’ll weigh the pros and cons, value for money, and whether this product is really as good as it says it is. 

    After much thought, you may not decide to buy this massage chair because of various reasons, including that you’re not sure that you will like as much in practice as in theory. 

    But say you’re strolling around in a shopping mall, and some energetic sales rep invites you to try out their new massage chair. You sit in this shiny new chair, feel the buttons and controls under your fingertips, and how one touch unleashes a soothing feeling into your achy back.

    That physical experience will overcome your hesitations, and give you a physical, tactile, connection to the product and, by extension, the brand. 

    Compared to checking out this product in an email newsletter or ad campaign, it will be harder to leave without it. 

    Summary: Experiential Marketing Benefits

    • Connect with customers
    • Build brand awareness
    • Develop a positive brand reputation
    • Put your product in customers’ hands

    7 Examples of Experiential Marketing Campaigns 

    1.Rick & Morty: The Rickmobile Experience

    Who doesn’t love Rick and Morty? When this popular adult-oriented cartoon hit the screens, people worldwide became avid fans. To mark its return, Cartoon Network had to use an out-the-box experiential approach to secure insane rankings. And so began the Rickmobile.

    They sent a car (the Rickmobile) around different parts of the US. To attract onlookers the car embodied the show’s main character – Rick, a nutty scientist, and grandfather with unbelievable intelligence. To raise awareness about the Rickmobile, Cartoon Network used social media marketing and created a live destination page.

    Rickmobile
    Source: Twitter

    This strategy worked wonders, and thousands of people impatiently waited for the Rickmobile to make an appearance in their cities. Buyers could take pictures next to and inside the Rickmobile. They could purchase branded merch too!

    2.Ghostbusters Movie: Marshmallow Man Mayhem

    Imagine an experiential marketing campaign that turns an ordinary environment into one huge branded experience. That’s what Forbidden Planet did!

    If you’ve watched Ghostbusters, you’ll probably remember that iconic scene of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man wrecking the streets of New York. Forbidden Planet recreated this scene in Waterloo’s train station, in the United Kingdom. They built a life-size model of Mr. Stay-Puft emerging from the ground. 

    Ghostbusters experiential marketing
    Source: LabBible

    Forbidden Planet took it a step further to bring customers into the Ghostbusters’ world. They decorated Waterloo station with green slime and gave London’s underground stations spooky names. 

    This capitalize on this opportunity even further, they added a booth to sell Ghostbuster merch. 

    Forbidden Plant’s experiential marketing campaign was way beyond success as tweets of excitement and selfies next to the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man spread like wildfire!

    3.M&Ms: Fun Flavor Rooms

    M&Ms, the widely beloved candy company engaged its audience through a blissful brand experience. They opened a popup store in New York City, with rooms dedicated to each flavor of this button-like chocolate candy.

    M&M's
    Source: Brit + Co

    M&Ms used flavored fragrances and unique décor appropriate to each room’s flavor. So, when customers step into each room, they don’t just taste the flavor but experience it. 

    Adding final touches to this campaign, M&Ms included food and drink lounges with themed offerings! Children, teens, and adults all experienced the joy of M&Ms’ chocolate candy! 

    Like the Ghostbuster movie experiential campaign, this strategy was boosted by how well M&Ms used Twitter marketing techniques to build awareness and grow excitement. 

    4.Doc McStuffins: Children’s Check-Up Clinic

    Now here’s a wholesome experiential marketing campaign from Disney. Doc McStuffins is a Disney cartoon for children, with a six-year old girl who plays a doctor and fixes her toys as the lead character.

    But what does it feel like to be Doc McStuffins and rid teddy bears and dolls of flu and tummy bugs? Kids no longer had to just imagine it as Disney recreated a Doc McStuffins clinic in various UK toy stores. 

    This ultra interactive experience was to market the release of its second season. Ultimately, this strategy did a lot more than that, and over 8000 children lined up to become Doc McStuffins.

    Each kid got ten minutes to play doctor and take care of a giant teddy bear known as “Big Ted” (yes, he has a name!). To keep thousands of ecstatic children calm and patient, Disney provided Doc McStuffins toys and pictures to color while they waited their turn.

    Doc McStufins experiential marketing
    Source: HotCow

    A significant takeaway from this example is the impression it made on the juniors and their parents. Because of how well Disney connected their audience and created a branded, playful environment, it will remain a cherished memory. 

    5.Vans: The House of Vans Pop Up Stores

    As every Skateboarders OG brand, Vans decided to take a unique approach to keep its marketing strategies relevant. The company opened a string of pop up stores around major US cities to create a hub for skateboarders to connect and share their passion. The shoe brand dubbed this collection of pop up stores The House of Vans

    All the pop up stores were in skateparks, and enthusiasts could listen to music, hang out and skate their hearts out. Because Vans is a skateboarding brand, it was the perfect idea to use skateparks as pop up locations and encompass activities skateboarders love. 

    VANs experiential marketing
    Source: DNAInfo

    But none of this would have been possible without Vans understanding their audience well. This company knew the music and atmosphere buyers would thoroughly enjoy. 

    Thanks to this experiential marketing campaign, Vans encouraged buyers to embrace their skateboarding passion. And in the end, this would lead to stronger customer loyalty because of the memorable, emotional connection Vans secured. 

    6.Lush: An Immersive Showcase

    Lush is a cosmetic brand offering luxurious combinations of organic ingredients in their soaps, body washes, lip scrubs, and much more. As it is, Lush stores follow an experiential marketing approach. They showcase all the products around the store, and employees often demonstrate product ingredients. 

    But Lush made an extra effort to get die-hard fans personal with their brand. This cosmetic company hosted an event in London packed with themed product installations, pop up stalls, and stages to demonstrate how their luxurious cosmetics work.

    Lush experiential marketing
    Source: Mirror

    As an experiential marketing master, Lush didn’t stop there. Customers could use a visual search tool to get information on a product by only using an image. Plus, Lush added a voice search assistant too! 

    Buyers could use voice and visual search tools to find the nearest stores stocking their sought-after products. This angle was genius because it solidifies customer purchasing intentions, as buyers know where they can find the products they want.

    Overall, the buyers that experienced this exceptionally experiential event refer to it as “A Disneyland for Lush products”!

    7.IKEA: Store Slumber Party

    What if you and a bunch of friends could spend one night having a sleepover in your favorite furniture store? IKEA made this a reality!

    Igniting this crazy event was a Facebook group called, “I wish I could sleepover at IKEA”. And it goes to show that the best ideas have the simplest origins.

    IKEA’s slumber fest took place in its Essex store, a huge warehouse filled to the brim with IKEA products. From the 100,000 members in the IKEA-dedicated Facebook group, the company randomly chose 100 lucky winners to have the ultimate sleepover.

    IKEA store sleepver
    Source: The Guardian

    As expected, IKEA didn’t take any shortcuts to deliver this unique and memorable experience. When customers arrived, they were guided on a personalized tour learning which mattresses, blankets, and pillows work best for them. 

    Each sleepover attendee received a goodie bag with snacks, slippers, sleep masks, and non-alcoholic wine to enjoy during two movies. And if you thought it can’t get any better, you’re wrong. IKEA hired a sleepover expert to provide custom advice on which products work for which people and to share tips on how to get a good night’s rest. 

    What contributed to this campaign reaching the extent it did, was a sound Facebook marketing strategy leading up to the event. As a result, IKEA successfully propped itself not only as a super generous and unique brand but as an industry thought leader. 

    Summary: 7 Examples of Experiential Marketing Campaigns

    1. Rick & Morty: The Rickmobile Experience
    2. Ghostbusters Movie: Marshmallow Man Mayhem
    3. M&M: Fun Flavor Rooms
    4. Doc McStuffins: Children’s Check-up Clinic
    5. Vans: The House of Vans Pop Up Stores
    6. Lush: An Immersive Showcase
    7. IKEA: Store Slumber Party

    6 Key Takeaways for Your Experiential Marketing Campaign

    1.Use a Fun-filled Approach

    While you want to multiply your revenue with experiential marketing, don’t forget to have fun. Buyers must be entertained and have a great time so they associate your event with positive feelings.

    Yes, you must focus on solving customer pain points. But if your audience doesn’t have fun, your efforts won’t matter. There are many ways you can ensure your experiential marketing campaign is fun, but this relies on your brand and audience.

    To ensure your experiential marketing campaign exudes fun, consider factors like:

    • What do your buyers enjoy doing?
    • What activities can help your buyers bond with each other?
    • How can you show customers you appreciate their support?
    • Will buyers bring other friends and family, and how will you ensure these attendees enjoy themselves?
    • How can you make the physical environment pleasant and appealing for all five human senses?

    2.Encourage Buyers to Interact With Each Other

    Encourage buyers to interact among themselves. Doing this will boost your community marketing growth and add to a memorable experience.

    For example, let’s look at IKEA’s experiential marketing campaign. Not only did this encourage buyers to engage with the brand, but also to interact with each other in one big warehouse sleepover. Not to mention the amount of user-generated content and social media buzz from the attendees. 

    A fundamental aspect of developing a thriving community is to group like-minded people with similar targeted needs or preferences. And allowing your audience to engage with each other also creates a sense of comradery.

    To connect your customers to each other for experiential marketing, use these tips:

    • Include activities that force customers to interact with one another.
    • Use a team-building approach for competitions and contests.
    • Create a physical environment that encourages interaction.

    3.Make an Effort to Gain Authority

    Gaining authority is pivotal to building social proof and credibility. When buyers perceive you as an authoritative figure, they’re more likely to trust your brand and advice. Consequently, growing your audience and networking with leading industry experts and businesses is key. 

    Fortunately, an experiential marketing campaign allows brands to build authority. Take complete advantage of this. A fantastic example of this is Lush’s experiential marketing campaign. 

    Lush offered buyers expert advice on their cosmetics, demonstrated how their products were made, and addressed customer questions with industry knowledge. Giving buyers a first-hand experience of what makes you an expert in your industry motivates them to trust your brand and products.

    To gain authority from your experiential marketing, you can:

    • Provide product demonstrations.
    • Explain what goes into developing your products and what makes them unique.
    • Mention how your industry experience has shaped your offerings.
    • Invite other experts to your event and have them endorse your brand.
    • Consider questions customers may ask and how you can deliver expert responses.
    • Provide recommendations on product combinations or which products work best for different customers.
    • Create and share insightful content that speaks to your audiences values on your social media channels.

    Like Lush, IKEA also used its experiential marketing campaign to drive authority by bringing in a sleep expert. Customers received personalized recommendations, proving that IKEA knows its industry and products. 

    Experiential marketing demand
    Source: Skift Meetings

    4.Don’t Be Afraid to Be Grand

    You don’t have to play it safe for experiential marketing. Don’t avoid using a strange or weird approach either. Ideally, customers mustn’t forget their experience. There’s no better way to ensure this than a grand event.

    The Rickmobile experiential campaign shows us how playful ideas are effective. While it may seem strange to have a giant cartoon character parading down the street, this is one surefire way to garner attention and get people smiling.

    An innovative approach is essential for successful experiential marketing. It also increases the chances of customers sharing your event on social media and securing brand awareness from intrigued bystanders.

    For a show-stopping experiential marketing event consider factors like:

    • What event hasn’t been done before?
    • What does your audience associate your brand with, and how can you use this to intrigue customers?
    • How can you host an experiential marketing event that sticks in your audiences’ heads for a long time?

    5.Understand What Your Audience is Passionate About

    The House Vans captures this experiential marketing concept well. This brand uses its buyers’ passion as the focal point of its event. You must evoke enthusiasm in buyers for a memorable and personalized experience.

    As I mentioned earlier, your audience must have fun in your experiential marketing campaign. A quick and effective way to achieve this is by using activities that your buyers already enjoy doing.

    To understand what your audience is passionate about for experiential marketing, evaluate questions like:

    • Would customers love to contribute to developing products? For instance, if you sell artisanal soaps would your audience love to create custom soaps?
    • Do buyers prefer physical or mental activities?
    • How can you connect audience members based on similar passions?
    • How can you provide experiences customers would love to participate in for fun? 

    Don’t try to figure this out by yourself. Use social platforms and directly ask your buyers. You can use surveys or polls or pop the question in a live stream, video, or email newsletter. 

    Also, ask your employees for ideas, especially the ones that interact with your customers the most. 

    experiential campaign stats
    Source: Tigris Events

    6.Increase Your Earnings with Brand Merch

    Most people want to take a token with them after a memorable and joyful experience. If you’ve ever been to a live concert, you’ll know the swarm of people that buy concert merch as memorabilia. 

    Ensure you incorporate this in your experiential marketing campaign, and make it possible for buyers to purchase branded merch. 

    There are loads of perks that come with selling brand merch for experiential marketing like:

    • Event attendees will have a physical reminder of their experience.
    • You can fuel brand awareness through word-of-mouth marketing as people may ask where your customers bought their merch.
    • You invite the opportunity to make more revenue from your experiential event.

    Design and sell merch your audience would be interested in buying. Consider if they prefer practical or fashion items or a hybrid of both. You can also sell exclusive merch only event attendees can purchase. 

    Summary: 6 Key Takeaways for Your Experiential Marketing Campaign

    1. Use a fun-filled approach
    2. Encourage buyers to interact with each other
    3. Make an effort to gain authority
    4. Don’t be afraid to be grand
    5. Understand what your audience is passionate about
    6. Increase your earnings with brand merch

    Conclusion

    Experiential marketing is a fantastic strategy to optimize customer engagement and increase your chances of conversions through buyer participation.

    You can deliver a real-life experience to your audience on how your products can add value to their lives. Brands that leverage experiential marketing can build brand awareness, connect with their audience, and put their products in customers’ hands to develop a positive reputation.

    Although experiential marketing requires innovative thinking and loads of resources, it’s well worth it for your business. Many major brands rely on this strategy to deliver a unique, long-lasting customer experience. Learn from these experiential marketing examples and start your first campaign!

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is experiential marketing?

    Experiential marketing is a strategy that invites buyers to have a real-life experience of your products through participation. Businesses can host events for experiential marketing to build brand awareness, connect with their audience and get their products in buyers' hands for better chances of conversion. We have the top benefits and use cases of experiential marketing and key takeaways for 2022.

    What are the key takeaways for experiential marketing?

    The key takeaways for experiential marketing include using a fun-filled approach, selling brand merch, encouraging buyers to interact with each other and developing industry authority. Read this article for more on how to use these key experiential marketing takeaways, the best use cases of this strategy and why it's important.

    What are the top examples of experiential marketing?

    The best examples of successful experiential marketing includes IKEA's store sleepover, Cartoon Network's Rickmobile, the Ghostbuster movies exhibition, Vans' The House of Vans and the Doc McStuffins children's check-up clinic. This article has more details on why these are the best use cases of experiential marketing, the key takeaways for this marketing approach and how it can boost your business.

    References

    Statista: Influence of branded events on consumer purchase intent in the United States in 2016

    BigEye: Experiential Marketing in 2021: Growing Customer Connections

    Semrush: Word of Mouth Marketing: 49 Statistics to Help You Boost Your Bottom Line

    Twitter: Rickmobile and M&M’s

    License Global: Disney Opens Doc McStuffins Clinic

    Vans: House of Vans

    Design Services: Lush Showcase