Experiential marketing refers to all actions/exercises involved in delivering a real-life experience. It is also referred to as live marketing and sometimes brand activation. An example of this would be a pop-up store, an event, or a class. This real-life experience requires us, the marketers, to create something so intriguing that our consumers are willing to put down their phone or step away from their computer and experience our brand. We need to show customers what we’re all about! With the increasingly digital state of marketing, how are marketers to offer experiential campaigns?
Macy’s tried their hand at creating an in-store experience like no other. On April 10, 2018, Macy’s launched a store-in-store, called STORY, striving to create an Instagram-like experience. Thirty-six of these stores opened across 15 states. With the rise in online shopping, stores are struggling to bring customers to their brick-and-mortar stores. This store-in-store experience aims to mesh scrolling through Instagram with walking through a store. Is this enough to create a brand loyalty lasting experience? I think not, while this is very creative, I do not see customers perceiving added value to walk into a brick-and-mortar store. I think customers would be more likely to make a purchase if Macy’s offered even a small discount like, “Shop at STORY and receive 15% off between 3-6 PM on weekdays.”
I think the following is a great example of experiential marketing. In 2015 during South by Southwest Festival (AKA SXSW which is a film/media/festival in Austin, TX), A&E created a replica of The Bates Motel from their popular television series. They constructed a functional three-room hotel with a six-guest maximum. The Bates Motel was in a parking lot near the popular festival and was fully functional for 9 nights. The rooms featured décor from the show and there were posters of missing characters hanging on the walls. Is this enough to create an immersive experience? Of course! The recreated Bates Motel completely immersed the consumers in the brand. They were sleeping in a replica of the motel from their favorite television show. This Motel generated buzz at the festival, and it received thousands of press mentions.
Macy’s set out to create an experience, but the experience they created was too similar to what customers can do at home. It wasn’t overly enticing or immersive. The Bates Motel created a full experience and because it was only open for a very short period, it created an exclusive feel.
We need to ensure that our experiential marketing campaigns are effective and leave a lasting impression on our audience. This could lead to extended brand loyalty which is something we all want. It’s okay to admit it. I think there are three things to keep in mind when setting out to create an impressionable experiential marketing event. Authenticity, shareability, and impactibility.
Authenticity – Does this experience match our brand?
Shareability – Is this experience easily shareable between those in attendance? Will this experience translate to social media? Could we partner with an influencer?
Impactibility – Will this experience leave a lasting impression on our customers?
Silverman, E. (2019). Macy’s launches ‘Instagram’ like store-in-store in Philadelphia Center City. Retrieved from https://www.philly.com/business/retail/macys-story-shopping-philadelphia-center-city-new-20190410.html
Tang, J. (2015). Check in at the Bates Motel at the 2015 SXSW Festival. Retrieved from https://nerdgeist.com/2015/03/02/check-in-at-the-bates-motel-at-the-2015-sxsw-festival/