Experiential. So what?

8 Mar

So after almost a year of working in a new discipline (experiential if you hadn’t guessed it from the title), have a learnt anything new? I bloody well hope so.

I have personally come to define experiential as this…

“Live marketing that connects people with brands in the real world”. 

Yep that’s it. Simple, broad, but true.

One of the biggest mistakes when it comes to experiential marketing is thinking of it as a channel. It’s not. It’s a mindset. It’s all about experiencing the brand for real. When viewed as a mindset and not a channel, the opportunities really open up. There are no boundaries when it comes to experiential marketing, it can be or do anything – from product trial to brand building. Or with the likes of “experience brands” such as Nike and Red Bull, an essential part of your Brand DNA.

So is it expensive? I’m afraid so. Is it worth your while? Yes (done well). Even though experiential marketing can be a more expensive form of marketing per head, the real value (when you get it right) lies in the longer, deeper, real-life engagement with people. No other form of marketing can match.

Experiential is multi-sensory, which makes it more engaging, more emotional, more memorable. What better way for Thorntons to market chocolate than to touch all the senses – no other form of marketing would achieve the same sensory effect.

Experiential (often) requires active participation, and therefore there is a higher level of involvement with the brand. Nike Grid used experiential to shift perceptions of running among young people who felt running is lonely and boring – rather than just telling them, they created a real world game to prove it.

Experiential is personal. Consumers’ today are increasingly demanding a much more personal relationship with the brands they choose – experiential delivers a very personalised two-way dialogue with your target audience.  “Swap for swag” allowed Coca-Cola to engage in a genuine dialogue with 0.5M festival goers to to educate them as to benefits of recycling and incentivising them with rewards – made out of recycled products. Rather than preaching to them…

Experiential marketing is authentic. In a world dominated by virtual and hypothetical situations, authentic real live experiences count for so much more (whereas other forms of advertising can lack realness and credibility). T-Mobile’s Life’s For Sharing campaign driven by real world events-based  true experiences has sparked talkability and sharing, time and time again.


As awesome as experiential can be, it works best when it underpins other marketing efforts and vice versa (rather than in isolation), and when it adds value (rather than interrupt) to people’s lives, e.g. to entertain, to educate, to be of use.

A year on, I’m a little clearer. I hope you are too.


One Response to “Experiential. So what?”

  1. erik March 8, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

    Actually, I’m sorry to say that your definition isn’t true.:( Experiential Marketing Methodology may be deployed in a live setting, but it is by no means the only medium in which one can deploy experiential methodology. Just wanted to clear that up for ya’;0

    Good luck to you and keep chargin’

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