Commentary

This Spring, Think Experiences

In today’s consumer marketing landscape, strategies and tactics are changing. To make an impression on consumers—including the coveted millennial demographic—marketers are steadily embracing immersive experience-based marketing. There’s good reason for this accelerating trend away from product-based initiatives. Marketers who monitor social media understand the tremendous value of experiential marketing.

In addition to millennials, a cross-section of generations now share information and images about their experiences—from travel to dining to art exhibits to concerts to parties and events—online. They are defining their own “brand,” i.e. their own lifestyles and social statuses, by their activities, rather than by their material possessions. Young adults, especially, are now more interested in spending money on enriching experiences instead of products.

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And brands are adapting to this cultural shift accordingly. Rather than focus on product pushing, it is wise for brands to develop their consumer experiences, both in and out of stores. The smart marketing approach is to create relevant, memorable experiences through the lens of the brand’s product or service.

There are several opportunities to consider in the experience-based marketing realm. First, there is the complimentary consumer experience—something customers don’t pay for, yet an experience that reinforces a positive impression of the brand in their minds. This is essentially a “bonus” offer for a product, and we’ve seen it especially in the global travel industry.  For example, hospitality chains are working towards a millennial-enticing environment with cooler décor, live music, 24-hour cafes, yoga classes, free Wi-Fi and smartphones used as room keys. 

Second, brands are now offering a new kind of launch experience – one where consumers play a part in the launch itself. Unlike traditional tactics, in these new launches, sales are directly tied to the experience itself. A great example is what Alexander Wang x Adidas created this past summer – a grassroots experience where posters were hung around NYC with the product shots and codes to text via a chatbox in order to purchase the new collection. Fashionistas felt the intensity and excitement as they took to the streets, mobile device in-hand, to make their purchases – then have the clothing delivered right to their homes by bike messenger!

In recent months, two brands have executed exemplary experiential marketing projects.

In November, esteemed cognac brand Hennessy held “Le Grand Voyage,” a series of intimate events in Brooklyn. Cognac fans were led through a multi-media event that featured a series of art installations, explaining the history of Hennessy. Of course, Hennessy was served throughout. Not only were attendees reminded of how much they enjoy Hennessy, but they also walked away with knowledge of the brand’s whole backstory and the process of producing fine cognac.

Perhaps the most stunningly-executed recent experience-based marketing campaign was designed by the team at luxury handbag and luggage design house Louis Vuitton. “Volez, Voguez, Voyagez – Louis Vuitton” is a much buzzed-about exhibition taking place at New York City’s American Stock Exchange Building through the first week of 2018. Billed as “the unexpected journey at the heart of Louis Vuitton,” it is a retrospective detailing the history of the French trunk maker. The story of the brand is told through portraits of its founders and the various designers that have helmed the House of Louis Vuitton from 1854 to the present day.

The exhibition also features objects and documents from the company’s heritage archives. To give the experience an interactive element, event producers created an app which allows exhibit-goers to bring portraits to life with augmented reality. To the hordes of fans flocking to see it, the exhibit reinforces Louis Vuitton’s place in high fashion history and positions its products as museum-worthy pieces of art.

These are companies at the forefront of the experience-based marketing trend. In addition to crafting strong messaging and traditional advertising campaigns, brands would be well-advised to start crafting experiences like these recent examples to keep consumers fully engaged and brand loyal.

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