In tough times, the level of trust in brands that can be engendered by experiential marketing could see the medium come into its own, writes Becky Wilkerson.
From home-made flying contraptions to intimate gigs inside a camper van, experiential marketing comes in many guises.
Marketers are using more innovative ways to bring their brands to life, turning routine product sampling exercises into memorable branded experiences and events.
Experiential fuses elements of direct marketing, field marketing and sales promotion but has carved its own niche, thanks to the emergence of specialist agencies.
Yet for many brands, experiential remains a tiny fragment of the marketing mix. Often misunderstood, the discipline tends to be used as a 'bolt-on' rather than a vital cog in an integrated campaign. But in these recessionary times, experiential could come into its own as brands look to build more personalised and targeted campaigns.
The medium's greatest appeal is its ability to engage with consumers on a highly personal level. 'Above-the-line ads have their place, but they don't allow the personal dialogue that experiential activity does,' says Sharon Richey, managing director at experiential marketing agency BEcause.
Bruce Burnett, chief executive of i2i Marketing, adds: 'An experience gives consumers the opportunity to question, as well as gain hands-on experience of a brand, allowing them to be more intimate with it, leading to a high conversion rate.'
For energy brands, which do not have a tangible product, experiential is invaluable. 'You can't touch or feel energy, so experiential marketing enables people to interact with our brand,' says Phil Boas, head of sponsorship and events at E.ON.
Another benefit of experiential, especially for FMCG brands, is the opportunity to get as close to the point of sale as possible, an …