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How Experiential Marketing Can Help Rebrand Your Image

Experiential Marketing

It’s true that almost every generation in modern times experiences the world in different ways from its predecessor. Whether it’s due to how global events shape our lives or the rapid development of technology, the world we’re born into is never the same as the one we leave. 

Companies that can effectively rebrand their image and adapt to changing times are often the ones that transcend the forward-movement of time. 

As Millennials and Get Zers dominate the consumer market, “experiences” over “legacy” is what drives them to open their wallets and spend. 

Take a look at these brands who are harnessing the ever-changing experiential landscape, and turning their businesses into enduring powerhouses.

The Age of Experience

In a 2018 study by Expedia and the Center for Generational Kinetics, 74% of Americans surveyed said they prioritize “experiences” over products and “things.” According to the report, “Baby Boomers are entering a stage where ‘less is more,’ while younger generations, particularly Millennials, are leading the charge in placing a newfound value on experiences, more than things.”

In this “experience economy” it’s all about sharing moments with family, friends, and the public at large across social media. What was once thought to be a trend, now dominates our lives online and influences our actions IRL. Last year, the Pew Research Center found that “seven-in-ten Americans use social media to connect with one another, engage with news content, share information, and entertain themselves.”

With these rapid (and sustaining) shifts in tastes and attitudes, brands have recognized that in order to have staying power and drive the cultural conversation it’s crucial to adapt to changing times and consumer appetites. 

Innovative experiential marketing can successfully both define and redefine your brand’s image as the “experience economy” continues to evolve.

12 years ago, Airbnb revolutionized the hospitality industry, essentially giving anyone the opportunity to be the next Conrad Hilton. But, fast-forward to 2020 and the home-sharing industry is flooded with alternatives like, VRBO, Flipkey, and Homestay. Even major hotel companies, like Marriott International’s Homes and Villas have launched their own home-sharing businesses. 

But, Airbnb is still just as popular and still synonymous with “home-sharing” as it was over a decade ago. Even with a net loss of $322 million between January and September of last year, the company’s revenue increased to $1.65 billion in the third-quarter of that same year. So, how were they able to (more or less) successfully adapt to an ever-increasingly competitive field?

Through an eventual partnership with Facebook back in 2016, Airbnb launched “experiences” to go-along with their home-sharing options for travelers. Celebrating its launch, six different “Airbnb Experiences” in Cape Town, Paris, L.A., Miami, Seoul, and Tokyo were broadcast on Facebook Live.

Airbnb hoped this creative marketing strategy would inspire viewers to book their own trips though the company and add-on their own unique experience. 

“As Airbnb launches a range of products that enables unique experiences around the world, it’s important that we lead change and reinvent the way we approach experiential marketing,” Aibnb’s Chief Marketing Officer Jonathan Mildenhall said at the time. “We are creating unique experiences that are lived by a few, shared by millions and encourage participation from around the globe.”

And, it looks like Airbnb’s gamble’s paying off. With over 30,000 trips booked in 2019, “Airbnb Experiences” saw a massive 295% growth as more and more travelers are redefining how they see the world through Airbnb’s ingenious rebranding strategy.

Make Your Brand Fashion-Forward

There may be no industry that adapts as continuously as the fashion industry, often leading the charge when it comes to how the rest of society evolves culturally. 

Founded in 1993, by Prada’s Miuccia Prada, Miu Miu was affectionately known as the “little sister” to Italian fashion giant Prada. But, in recent years the label has catapulted into the major leagues of Europe’s fashion scene, while still keeping its independent roots firmly planted. 

Yet, with that new prestige came the need to refresh their image. In 2018, Miu Miu unveiled a new logo at that year’s Paris Fashion Week. But, in keeping with their identity, described as “raw elegance with a youthful, maverick, and carefree soul,” Miu Miu wanted to take their rebranded logo directly to the masses. 

Last spring, featuring a branded truck showcasing their new logo parked in front of their flagship store in SoHo, Miu Miu turned heads and turned up the heat on a brisk March day to roll-out their new look. 

Handing out cups of hot chocolate with marshmallows (both branded with their new label, of course), Miu Miu engaged consumers face-to-face, by providing a meaningful experience that stayed true to their “independent and unconventional spirit.”


Turn Your Brand Into a Destination

If you think about it, the savviest of brands generally don’t limit their identities to one specific theme, understanding that evolving is an integral part of not only staying relevant, but staying in business. 

You can do a cursory Google search and easily find Lululemon CEO Calvin McDonald’s thoughts on how he views the yoga behemoth.

“We view Lululemon as an experiential brand versus a lifestyle brand. We are going to test and learn,” he told CNBC in 2019. 

Recognizing that the “yoga” industry (online and in-store) is rife with both luxury and more affordable options in an market valued at an annual $16.8 billion globally (including, classes, clothing, equipment, and accessories), Lululemon has rebranded their image through curated experiential events. 

With brick-and-mortar stores featuring yoga studios, meditation spaces, and space for community gatherings, Lululemon hosts 4,000 events worldwide each year in an effort to immerse their target audience in the brand’s three “experience elements” of “Sweat, Growth, and Connection.”

By creating a more personalized connection between “brand” and “consumer,” Lululemon hopes that as their experiences evolve, their customers will evolve with them. By 2023, Lululemon estimates that 10% of their entire product fleet will be considered “experiential,” including yoga retreats, running clubs, and 5k marathons. 

Rebrand Your Image with Experiential Marketing

You don’t need to be a Fortune 500 company in order to rebrand your image in a successful way that resonates with consumers and strengthens brand loyalty. It’s really as simple as creating experiences your target audience will love and experiential marketing hits all the right notes. 

Times have and always will change, and the same goes with how we want to experience the world because material goods come and go, but experiences become memories that last a lifetime.

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Five Experiential Marketing Ideas for Back-To-School Season

Experiential Marketing

It’s back-to-school season for children across the U.S. and that means brands can capture a multi-billion dollar annual event. Take a look at these effective and engaging experiential marketing ideas that are perfect for parents willing to spend and kids hoping they’ll be “the best in class.”

While many kids are already back in school, the end of Labor Day means the start of the new school year for millions more across the U.S. 

With dramatic changes to the back-to-school routine as a result of COVID-19, brands are looking at creative ways to reach and connect with parents who still have a laundry list of school supplies, clothes, accessories, and electronics to purchase.

How can they capitalize on the second biggest shopping season of the year with a brand strategy that attracts and retains consumers? 

Take a look at these five experiential marketing ideas perfectly designed to sell more products, increase foot traffic, and leave lasting impressions right before the bell rings. 

Back to School Experiential Marketing

Pop-Ups Target Parents Where They Are

Busy parents generally have “go-to stores” when shopping for their children’s back-to-school supplies. Maybe they found a fabulous deal the previous year. Or, perhaps a particular retailer has that “must-have” item their child has been begging for all summer long. 

Either way, there’s a short-window between parents receiving back-to-school supply lists from teachers and the amount of time they have to shop and get their kids ready for “the first day.” 

That’s why pop-up shops are the perfect platform to reach parents who are short-on-time and aren’t methodically browsing for back-to-school necessities. These temporary retail spaces are popular, mobile, budget-friendly and work well for both brick-and-mortar brands that can tap into new markets and online retailers that can showcase their products to consumers, up-close and in-person. 

Last August, Aerie (owned by American clothing retailer American Eagle Outfitters) visited college campuses across the U.S. for their “Aerie Pop-In Tour.” Featuring the brand’s latest fashion and accessory collections, Aerie also generated buzz with students through contests and giveaways, exclusive discounts, and interactive activities. 

Aerie Pop In Tour

Exclusive Contests and Giveaways Entice Budget-Conscious Parents

It’s no secret that back-to-school shopping is expensive. In 2020, households are spending an average of nearly $800, an increase of over $300 since 2004. With that, nearly every parent is always on the lookout for deals and giveaways. 

Along with the excitement free giveaways and contests bring to experiential marketing campaigns, brands are more likely to get parents browsing the rest of what they have to offer, increasing the likelihood they’ll open up their wallets and spend. 

From exclusive gifts with a purchase, gift card giveaways, or contests with winners receiving high-dollar value prize packages, the options are seemingly endless on how brands can get parents online and/or in-store to make them part of their back-to-school shopping routine.

Product Demos Create Multi-Sensory Experiences

Why “talk the talk,” when you can “walk the walk”? When you can show consumers how your brand’s products can integrate into their back-to-school routine, they’re able to see it in-action and see it’s value and benefits. 

With product demonstrations, you’re executing a three-pronged approach of showcasing your product, answering questions on-the-spot, and highlighting why your brand is superior to competitors. 

Just in time for caffeine-deprived college students returning to campus after their winter breaks, Nespresso launched a nationwide, six-week, promotion for their “Nordic Limited Edition” line of specialty coffee. With stops in New York City, L.A., and Miami, the specialty coffee retailer used a mobile showroom to show off their new product line and premium coffee and espresso machines, as well as offering complimentary cups of both hot and iced coffees.

With experienced brand ambassadors demonstrating how to brew a delicious cup of Nespresso coffee, along with treating curious onlookers to free samples, consumers’ senses were activated with the unmistakable taste and aroma of a perfect morning cup of coffee.  

With field marketers demonstrating how to make a delicious and luxurious cup of coffee, customers were not only treated to free samples, but were allowed to immerse themselves in the “Nespresso experience,” influencing higher sales and highlighting the brand in one fell swoop.  

Create Exclusivity With In-Store Events

While the impact of coronavirus has limited face-to-face contact in large groups, there are brands responsibly hosting exclusive, in-store events bringing parents and their children together in a traditional experiential marketing environment designed to attract attention. 

With exclusive discounts and incentives for attendees only, in-store events drive traffic from consumers who don’t want to miss out. This past July, WalMart launched “STEAM Day of Play” at participating stores around the U.S., to engage children with activities centered around science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics. 

From learning how to tie-dye, create “slime,” and craft a cereal necklace, WalMart gave cooped-up children and parents the opportunity to safely have fun and exercise their minds.

Give Your Event Star-Power

Teaming up with a celebrity or social media influencer is a strategic way to enhance interest for your event. By partnering with a well-known personality who aligns with your brand’s message and identity, you can not only capture your own fans, but theirs as well.  

Last fall, Quaker Chewy wanted to help kids in NYC get geared-up for the new school year with their nutritious granola bars. In partnership with AdoptAClassroom.org, and some added star-power from actor Neil Patrick Harris, a branded Quaker Chewy food truck gave away over 500 boxes of the popular snack bars with NPH serving fans and passersby himself

When a celebrity or influencer promotes your product, you have the ability to reach a wider audience and drive more traffic to your brand.

Get Noticed During the Back-to-School Shopping Season

This year’s back-to-school spending is expected to reach over $33 billion dollars in the U.S. and it’s easier than you think for your brand to capture a slice of the market. Aside from being a great way to connect with your target audience, there are numerous opportunities that are creative and memorable that can produce unforgettable experiences, just in time for the start of the new school year.

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Guerrilla Marketing and the Element of Surprise

Experiential Marketing

In marketing, employing guerrilla marketing techniques means creating an element of surprise for consumers, through unconventional campaigns that reach people in an unexpected and memorable way. 

When we think of the word “guerrilla,” “guerrilla warfare” comes to mind, but “guerrilla marketing” isn’t meant to be aggressive or combative. It is, however, meant to raise brand awareness in an imaginative and eye-opening way. 

So, let’s take a look at what guerrilla marketing is and how it can take your next experiential marketing campaign in a fun, unique, and creative direction. 

Roots of Guerrilla Marketing

Guerrilla marketing traces its roots back to the 1980s, as brands and agencies began the shift from traditional print, television, and radio marketing to electronic media. The term “guerrilla marketing” was coined by late American business writer Jay Conrad Levinson in his 1984 book “Guerrilla Marketing: Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business.”

While the marketing landscape looked vastly different over 35 years ago than it does in 2020, the core principles of Levinson’s book (i.e. generating buzz about a product or brand that translates into sales) still rings true today, even as the ever-changing digital landscape continues to transform brand, agency, and consumer perceptions and expectations of what experiential marketing is. 

A good example of the roots of guerrilla marketing can be found on cable television of the late 1980s and early 1990s, specifically MTV. Instead of advertising being a by-product of a show, tuning into a music video’s “world premiere” was, in itself, a creative and subtle call-to-action from brands. 

For a more recent example, take Lady Gaga’s 2010 “Telephone” music video remix featuring Beyoncé, which showcased a whopping 12 brand placements, from Diet Coke to Virgin Mobile and even Miracle Whip. 

And, all that product placement translated into an astonishing amount of brand awareness, with over 360 millions views of the video (as of this writing) on YouTube alone.  

Guerilla Marketing Lady Gaga

Guerrilla marketing relies heavily on unconventional strategies, a lot of energy, and even more imagination. “Surprise” is a quaint, yet accurate, way to sum up guerrilla marketing in one word. Most guerrilla marketing campaigns strike consumers on a more personal and memorable level, which leaves a far more valuable impression than traditional marketing strategies. 

Types of Guerrilla Marketing

On its own, guerrilla marketing seems niche enough in the world of experiential marketing. But, there are actually several sub-categories:

Indoor” Guerrilla Marketing: These are activations executed inside public areas like college campuses and brick-and-mortar retail stores. Indoor guerrilla marketing examples can range from “flash mob” performances to signage placement. 

Ambush” Guerrilla Marketing: Not for the faint of heart, “ambush guerrilla marketing” is defined as activations that are implemented at large-scale events (i.e. sporting events, festivals, and/or trade shows) without permission. This form of guerrilla marketing can be extremely challenging to pull off as most large-scale events have heightened security in order to protect attendees, as well as the integrity of official sponsors.

Experiential” Guerrilla Marketing: Experiential guerrilla marketing is the most common form of guerrilla marketing, can be held in almost any public environment, and has the ability to bring with it more reward than risk. From pop-up shops to city-wide scavenger hunts, the most successful form of experiential guerrilla marketing is one that successfully engages with and invites consumers to interact with a brand. 

Street” Guerrilla Marketing: These are activations that take advantage of existing public areas or environments to create a unique brand presence. They’re often temporary, and include marketing signage and/or installations. 

A prime example of street (or “outdoor”) guerrilla marketing is GoldToe’s 2010 street guerrilla marketing campaign, centered around that year’s New York Fashion Week. The well-known sock retailer wanted to make a statement as they unveiled their first underwear collection. 

Brand ambassadors, clad only in GoldToe underwear, were dispatched throughout New York City to trigger excitement about the new line and direct consumers to the brand’s “main event” in Herald Square Park, where some of Manhattan’s most iconic statues, including the Wall Street Bull, were decked out in GoldToe’s briefs, boxers, and boxer-briefs. 

Gold Toe Street Guerrilla Marketing

Along with the eye-catching stunt, 100 gift baskets loaded with GoldToe goodies were delivered to notable Wall Street firms and anyone who stopped by the event and donated a piece of gently used men’s clothing received a free pair of GoldToe underwear. 

And, the guerrilla marketing campaign had a philanthropic element to it, with GoldToe donating $10,000 to non-profit Career Gear, which provides underprivileged men with clothes for job interviews. 

Guerrilla Marketing and Experiential Vehicles

Experiential vehicles and guerrilla marketing go hand-in-hand, taking your “surprise” activation “mobile,” therefore allowing your brand to hit the road and go directly where your consumers are. 

In winter 2018, as part of their month-long “Le Rouge Chanel” pop-up, iconic French fashion house Chanel partnered with Food Truck Promotions to enhance their activation with a guerrilla marketing campaign that took their luxury in-store experience onto the streets of Manhattan. 

Creating their very own “winter wonderland,” three vintage vehicles (clad in red, with holiday lights, red and white candy canes, and fluffy marshmallows), were stationed outside three of the brand’s most popular storefronts across New York City and greeted shoppers with a complimentary cup of the Chanel’s own “Hot Coco” (crafted alongside Food Truck Promotions in-house culinary team) for consumers to indulge on a chilly December day.

Serving over 10,000 cups of “Hot Coco” throughout the campaign, Chanel’s avant-garde guerrilla marketing experience drove over five million impression and the brand’s “Hot Coco Trucks” successfully engaged with Chanel’s target audience of Millennials, nurturing new relationships and cementing existing ones. 

Surprise and Excite Consumers with Guerrilla Marketing

Guerrilla marketing is an out-of-the-box alternative to traditional marketing. It thrives on creativity and original thinking, centered on imagination and ingenuity. When your brand can personalize an experience with excitement and the element of surprise, you can generate buzz and engagement that translates into  lasting impressions and memorable engagement with consumers.

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