Consumers Wanted, Experiential Marketing Required

With many on Madison Avenue wringing their hands over implications for conventional forms of advertising, new research suggests a better way into the hearts and minds of many consumers may be live event marketing opportunities, also known as "experiential marketing." New research finds such events may be more influential than either television advertising or direct mail in influencing how women and Gen Y consumers make their purchase decisions.

The study, the Experiential Marketing Survey conducted by Sponsorship Research International (SRI) for Jack Morton Worldwide, found that 43 percent of women rated experiential marketing the most likely to cause them to purchase a product or service quickly, compared to traditional advertising channels (20 percent) and direct mail (37 percent).

Generation Y respondents aged 18-23 of both genders also rated experiential marketing the medium of choice for influencing purchases, at 36 percent--just ahead of direct mail and traditional advertising (33 and 32 percent, respectively).

The top categories for event marketing for both genders across all ages were food and beverages, cars, computers/software, and cell phones. Among women, household, personal, and healthcare products ranked highest.

The survey also revealed consumers' views regarding the major determining factors in the effectiveness of live event marketing.

Location, of course, is key; consumers aged 18-37 cited malls, in-store events, fairs, and other public events as the preferred venues for receiving experiential marketing messages. Events that integrate entertainment with the opportunity to test a product were strongly favored by all respondents across all demographics. Consumers were willing to spend 14 minutes participating in an experiential program; on average women were willing to spend more time than men.

According to the survey, the top two factors that make experiential marketing more enjoyable for consumers are on-site representation and the ability to share the experience with others. Respondents also preferred smaller events in intimate settings to large events with too many people. Nearly 9 out of 10 consumers agreed that participating in a live event marketing experience would make them more receptive to further advertising supporting the brand they were engaged with.

Said Josh McCall, CEO of Jack Morton Worldwide, "This research further validates the increasing importance of experiential marketing and provides a clear statement of its impact on targeted consumer audiences."