PopSugar Blends Audience Connection, Brand Awareness To Gain Experiential Success

PopSugar has found success with its experiential offerings, from its annual Play/Ground event, which drew 15,000 attendees this year, to its inaugural Sugar Chalet to its 90201 pop-up executed for Fox.

That success stems from a deep understanding of its audience, smart data strategies and a team dedicated to creation and education.

“We really listen to our audience — what they react to, what makes them tick and then we serve the trends, topics and experiences we know they crave. The industry is constantly moving — what’s innovative one day is tired the next,” Lindsay Leaf, PopSugar’s vice president of experiential marketing, told Publishers Daily. “It's about having a team that is in constant pursuit of the next big thing and that works tirelessly to dream up and execute moments that move people.”



Leaf noted that data helps PopSugar’s team “see trends before they go viral and to understand more about who our audience is and what kind of content — editorial and beyond — resonates with them.”

For example, ahead of an event like Play/Ground, the team uses data to understand how to target audiences through performance marketing and conducts in-depth research that includes social and emotional, onsite and post-event brand awareness. PopSugar also uses data before, during and after events to determine how fans decide to attend, how their time was spent and what they engaged with most.

One of PopSugar’s event strengths is connecting brands with enthusiastic audiences. Sugar Chalet partnered with brands like Athleta, which had an on-site shop, and Nature’s Way, which hosted several meditation sessions.

“When planning experiences, we always put the consumer first. We consider the consumer journey, what matters to them, what will inspire them, what will bring them joy,” said Leaf. “It's through that lens that we activate our partners in a way that truly resonates with our guests.”

Each partner has a different rubric for what success looks like, including buzz and brand awareness, engagement and intent to shop and at Play/Ground, PopSugar employs beacons that measure how much time people spend with different brands and activations.

PopSugar’s events continue to grow.

Its events are typically at capacity and Play/Ground’s attendance increased by 50% between year one and year two. It’s 90210 pop-up had a limited number of reservations, which sold out within 30 minutes of its announcement. This year’s Sugar Chalet attracted 1,500 fans in one day at Bryant Park in New York.

“The halo of the PopSugar brand is real,” said Leaf. “Our audience has come to understand the things we stand for: playfulness, positivity and purpose. Our experiences (and our content) all ladder up to that and to the joy of discovery.”

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