Sometimes known as engagement marketing, experiential marketing aims to immerse customers in products by engaging them in various ways. Companies utilize this marketing strategy when they want to form memorable, emotional connections between consumers and brands with the ultimate goal of creating loyal customers and improving their lifetime value. Experiential marketing is an umbrella term of sorts, as it includes a range of marketing strategies.
The trick with experiential marketing is getting it right. You cannot pull off one ad that tugs at customers’ heartstrings and expect to foster customer loyalty. If you want your customers to come back time and again, you have to go beyond endearing ads and simple offers. It begins by becoming customer-centric and learning how to engage with your customers to make them happy enough to become brand ambassadors with more influence than your top salespeople.
It’s often helpful to examine how other brands are leveraging experiential marketing, so we’ve rounded up three stellar examples below to inspire you. These top experiential marketing campaigns focus on customer interactions with brands and have a storytelling component:
- Lean Cuisine #WeighThis
- Volkswagen Piano Staircase
- David Lloyd’s Run for Your Bun Café
Read on to learn about some of the most impactful experiential marketing campaigns from these three brands.
1. Lean Cuisine #WeighThis
After Lean Cuisine experienced a consistent sales decline for six years, they rebranded. Part of their strategy was changing people’s perceptions of them from being a “diet brand” to a healthy living brand. After conducting research that shows Lean Cuisine’s target customers, women, continue to be judged by appearance rather than accomplishments, 360i worked with the brand to help women shift the focus to other aspects of their lives and “change the conversation around health and wellness.”
They invited real women to weigh the accomplishments they have the most pride in, rather than their bodies. They displayed the comments on scales painted by an artist and installed them in Grand Central Station. They also created #WeighThis, a proprietary filter that muted the word “diet” from televisions and web browsers. The campaign went viral instantly, with 6.5 million views in the first week, a 428% increase in social media mentions, and a 33% increase in positive brand perception. The campaign’s success is due, in large part, to the fact that it engaged consumers emotionally. Women gained power over the conversation and started sharing the ways they wanted to be weighed on social channels.
In a review of the campaign, HubSpot identifies some key takeaways for marketers wishing to learn from experiential marketing leaders:
- Don’t interrupt if you want to grab someone’s attention in New York City. Create an experience that is valuable to the people who pass by it, because they will be more likely to participate.
- Determine the message you want to send, even if it is not tied directly to a product or if it is not something your brand has said before, and then build an experience around it.
2. Volkswagen Piano Staircase
The Volkswagen Piano Staircase marketing campaign is an ideal example of a company reaching beyond their niche to create a positive brand association. While the experience has nothing to do with automobiles, it is fun and shows that companies have the power to change people’s behavior by creating fun experiences. In fact, VW created the idea of “the fun theory” to prove their point.
First, VW built a piano out of a set of stairs beside an escalator at a subway stop in Germany. Then, they watched as people chose the stairs over the escalator. The video shows people of all ages opting to climb the stairs and having fun while doing so. In fact, the experiment was such a success that 66% more people opted for the stairs. People love to have fun, and the campaign was a success because it played on a positive emotion. As Bizzabo points out, the company successfully created a positive interaction, helped people associate fun with the brand, and easily won over customers.
3. David Lloyd’s Run for Your Bun Cafe
David Lloyd is all about exercise and fitness. In 2017, David Lloyd Clubs set up the Run for Your Bun Café, an experiential marketing campaign selling food and drink in exchange for exercise that was designed to show office workers in London that they could work out during the day. Guests had to complete a workout that included using a rowing machine, spin bike, and treadmill and completing sit-ups, squats, and lunges, in order to receive their lunch. The brand showed workers that regular exercise and healthy food should, and can be, part of a balanced, healthy lifestyle. The brand encouraged them to be more active during the day, even when they are stuck at the office.
In a review of this experiential marketing campaign, Econsultancy reminds marketers that pop-up experiences can be a successful way to “raise awareness and coverage of a particular cause or product.” The key is to choose a location that is central to your target audience. It’s worth noting that David Lloyd continued with its experiential marketing efforts last year by launching the nap-ercise class, which replaced treadmills with beds to show consumers that they need sleep and to establish the brand’s dedication to people’s overall well-being.
When you create an experience that resonates with customers, you are creating a lasting impression and keeping your brand in the front of their mind. Positive interactions are incredibly powerful tools in the quest to foster loyalty, and the more people associate you with positive emotions and experiences, the better off your brand will be.