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Safe Product Sampling For the Holiday Season

Experiential Marketing

There’s no bigger season for product sampling than the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, where shoppers are anxious to “try before they buy” gifts for loved ones. 

A post-COVID world has created challenges for brands wanting to let consumers personally test their goods. But, there are new, creative, and safe ways brands can continue getting their products in-front of consumers.

Whether pre-packaged samples, contactless sampling, PPEs, practicing safe social distancing and more, it’s more than possible for traditional high-touch retail environments and events to adjust. And, this is the best time of year to do so. 

Let’s take a look at why product sampling still works in 2020 and how your brand can make the most out of an activation, without sacrificing customers’ safety and security.

Product Sampling Activation

Five Reasons to Choose Product Sampling

Product sampling is hardly a new concept, but there’s a reticence to giving anything away for free. Will the end result justify the time and cost of putting a team together and getting the product into consumers’ hands? Sounds like a tall order, but successful product sampling is easier to execute than you may think. Done right and your customer base will grow, making the effort well worth it. 

1. Product sampling is effective

It’s hard to argue with the numbers and product sampling is one of the best experiential marketing practices. In a 2015 report from Sampling Effectiveness Advisors, 73% of respondents said they were likely to buy a product after trying it.

2. Saves time and is cost-effective 

Instead of taking the risk of officially launching a product that needs to be pulled back, creating costly corrections and negative PR, promotional product sampling saves time and money, ensuring you have a winning product before it hits the shelves.  

3. Reaches potential new customers 

When you allow consumers to sample your product on their terms, you create a level of comfort that increases the prospect of winning over customers. Targeted product sampling also allows brands to focus on new demographics that may not be familiar with their product. 

4. Builds customer loyalty

Experiential marketing is a key component to securing long-term customers and product sampling is a powerful tool for brands to meet that goal. When consumers can try your product for free – and feel good about it – the positive association they take away will stay with them.

5. Receive valuable feedback 

A key component to a product’s success is customer feedback. Letting your target audience sample your product along with having the ability to comment on it can weed out any opportunities that could potentially hold back the success of its launch.

Three Ways to Keep Consumers Safe

Traditional product sampling has long been a way for brands and retailers to introduce customers to new products. With enhanced precautions in effect around the world, product sampling is getting a makeover that puts a premium on safety, without trading in engaging and memorable experiences. 

Virtual sampling

Hit especially hard by the pandemic is the cosmetics industry, which relies heavily on in-store traffic and in-person product sampling. But, brands like Ulta Beauty, L’Oreal, and Estee Lauder have created virtual sampling tools, allowing customers to try on products for their lips, eyes, and hair without ever entering their stores. 

Dry demos 

Brands that want to keep the “sampling experience” alive for consumers have turned to pre-packaged samples of dry goods that can be prepared at home. By utilizing brand ambassadors to talk to customers and also distributing coupons, consumers can still take products for a test drive without putting themselves at risk. 

Drive-thru and online samples

In an effort to entice more consumers toward alternatives to in-store shopping, some retailers are rewarding customers by offering free add-ons with online orders and samples for “drive-thru” or pickup orders.

Brands Reimagining Product Sampling

Several brands have taken innovative steps in an effort to adapt to the changing landscape of product sampling. Take Coca-Cola, for example. When Coca-Cola Energy debuted this past January, the soft-drink brand could hardly have anticipated the pandemic’s impact on existing marketing plans to introduce their new product to consumers, including in-store sampling. 

Yet, Coca-Cola adapted and leaned into the growth of online grocery shopping, as well as utilizing an element of “cause marketing.” Giving free samples of Coca-Cola Energy in customers’ online orders and donating the product to hospitals and first responders has led to a widespread trend, with a number of brands utilizing similar tactics that helped Coca-Cola capitalize on the marketing and sales of its newest product.

Kind Snacks Drone Delivery

Sometimes, humor is the best medicine during challenging times and KIND found inspiration earlier this year ahead of the release of its KIND Frozen Bars. With a dearth of in-person, summertime events, KIND held a unique contest for customers with lucky winners getting their very own samples delivered via trained bird, drone, and hot air balloon. 

Putting a humorous spin on the stay-at-home orders and its effect on the sudden ubiquitousness of “delivery,” KIND was able to drive the conversation on social media while building consumer loyalty with its quirky product sampling campaign.

You Can Still Try Before You Buy With Safe Product Sampling

The inability to conduct in-person, traditional product sampling has caused a ripple effect across many industries, but brands have found creative ways to still get samples in consumers’ hands. 

With the holidays just around the corner, now is the time to maximize your reach with consumers. As millions safely shop in-store and even more shopping online, there are plenty of ways to get your products noticed. All it takes is out-of-the-box thinking and always keeping safety in mind to ensure your next product sampling event is a crowd-pleasing success.

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Three 2020 Experiential Marketing Trends That Are Here to Stay

Experiential Marketing

Throughout 2020, the experiential marketing industry has had to reimagine how it captures audience attention and engagement while redefining what successful experiences look like. 

But, necessity breeds innovation. And, experiences that are grabbing headlines, trending on social media, and winning over consumers have successfully adapted to today’s environment. 

Now is not the time to shy away from experiential, but to lean into it. Let’s take a look at three of the biggest experiential trends in 2020 that are imaginative, ingenious, and here to stay.

Drive-In Experiences: Reinventing a Retro Recreation

As the world continues to cope with coronavirus, the experiential marketing industry is looking ahead, by turning to the past. 

Drive-in theaters were once considered a novel throwback, a shout out to its heyday in the 1950s and 60s. But, that’s all changed in 2020. And, if you think about it, the idea is appealing on many levels. 

More than just a creative reason to leave the house, drive-ins automatically come with an added level of security. When you don’t have to leave the safety and comfort of your car, the fear of interacting in close contact with large groups dissipates. On the flip side, drive-ins still provide a sense of participating in a collective experience. You also can’t go wrong with the nostalgia factor of going to the drive-in. The comfort and consolation of enjoying a simpler time.

Van Gogh Drive In Experience

Toronto’s “Immersive Van Gogh” art exhibition didn’t begin as an event to be experienced in a car, but organizers quickly shifted to accommodate their response to the pandemic. Displaying some of theDutch painter’s most famous works through the use of light, sound, and high-resolution digital projections, 14 vehicles at a time can drive in, turn off their engines, and watch the 35-minute show from inside their cars.

Even as Canada has eased restrictions, “Immersive Van Gogh” is sticking with drive-in engagement. By figuratively “driving into the artwork” itself, organizers say visitors get a highly immersive experience that’s unlike any other installation in the world. 

Hybrid Experiences: The Best of Both Worlds

Hybrid experiences combine the best of face-to-face engagement and the exciting innovation of virtual technology. A hybrid event is essentially any event, whether a conference or workshop, trade expo or seminar, that combines live, physical components with digital, online elements. Think about an industry convention that launches an in-person conference and also live streams keynote addresses and breakout sessions to a worldwide virtual audience. 

While hybrid events have gained a lot of traction this year, as a way to mitigate the risks associated with coronavirus, they’ve been a mainstay throughout the 21st century. Look no further than Apple, arguably the pioneer for hybrid events. 

At the forefront of innovation and tech trends, it’s no surprise their annual events announcing latest products have pushed the envelope of industry conferences for well over a decade. Always making front-page news, Apple’s in-person “Special Events” have been live-streamed around the world since their inception in 2006. 

From Calvin Klein, the NBA, ASICS and more, brands throughout 2020 have harnessed the global reach of hybrid events to launch new products and capture the widest audience possible through the power of innovation and technology.

Tim Cook Apple

Brands Making In-Person Experiential Marketing Safer

The trend with the most far-reaching impact that will likely remain is making in-person events generally safer for attendees. Over the course of this year, brands and agencies have had to balance the protections and precautions needed without impacting an activation’s overall experience. 

This past Mother’s Day, WalMart reinvented their annual “Mom’s Appreciation Event” with a COVID-friendly twist. Featuring a unique “retailtainment” event at participating stores, drive-thru sampling and demo stations were activated to celebrate moms across the country, but in a safe and responsible way.

Whether continued social distancing, complimentary PPE, individually packaged swag or food and beverages, expect to see additional messaging in the future that’s health-conscious without feeling sterile, cold, and impersonal.

Walmart Mother's Day

The Future is Here With 2020’s Biggest Experiential Marketing Trends

Even amid the pandemic, experiential marketing remains popular with U.S. consumers. In a recent YouGov survey, nearly three-quarters of respondents agreed that engagement is key for brands to be successful. 

While nothing beats creating human connections that we can touch, see and feel, there are a variety of solutions to executing experiential marketing campaigns that are innovative, memorable, and rise to the challenges we face today.

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5 Effective Experiential Marketing Events That Elevated Brand Perception

Experiential Marketing

At its core, experiential marketing focuses less on a brand’s singular product or service and more on its overall message or mission through active consumer engagement. 

Designed to foster an emotional connection, the goal of any effective experiential marketing campaign is to facilitate a long-lasting relationship between consumer and brand. 

While almost every company employs these interactive marketing strategies in some capacity, these five brands not only enhanced brand loyalty with current customers, but elevated brand perception with memorable unique experiences that captured the emotions and senses of new audiences.

Into the “Stratos-phere”

Considered one of the most popular (and effective) experiential marketing campaigns ever, Red Bull took it’s famous slogan “… gives you wings” to the test in a seriously “out of this world” way. 

In 2012, the Austrian energy drink company sent professional skydiver Felix Baumgatner into the farthest reaches of our stratosphere to break the record for the world’s highest parachute jump (as well as become the first person to break the sound barrier in freefall), with their “Stratos” campaign.

Since its inception in 1987, Red Bull has been synonymous with extreme sports and activities. And with “Stratos,” Red Bull sought to firmly cement their ownership of that identity by pushing that concept to the limit.

Red Bull Stratos

Descending from a staggering height of 127,851 ft. at a maximum speed of nearly 840 MPH, Baumgatner’s historic jump was broadcast live on the Discovery Channel, becoming the highest-rated, non-primetime program in the network’s history, with nearly eight million viewers watching. To date, Red Bull’s video of the event on YouTube has over 46 million views. 

While the cost of “Stratos,” at $30 million, seems like a king’s ransom, it’s still a fraction of the $300 million Red Bull spends annually on marketing. With so many people watching, along with worldwide news coverage, “Stratos” not only gave Red Bull a global marketing boost, but exposed them to tens of millions of potential new consumers, and securing their position as the brand leader in all things “extreme.”

A Splash of Color with Dulux

Making paint interesting is a tough challenge. There’s a reason why the old adage, “… watching paint dry” is considered the litmus test for “something boring.” But. U.K. paint company Dulux has decided to use the power of it’s vibrant color palette to motivate and inspire. 

On a mission to “bring people together and make the world a happier, healthier place,” Dulux’s “The Color Run” is an untimed 5K run held several times a year since 2011 in major cities around the world. 

Participants start the 5K in white, but they don’t stay that way for long. Like human blank canvases, at each kilometer mark, they’re doused from head-to-toe in a different colored powder.

After the 5K run, Dulux hosts a “Finish Festival,” a celebratory gathering for all runners featuring music, dancing, activity booths, and “massive color throws” designed to create “millions of vivid color combinations.” Plus, “The Color Run” has donated $5 millon to more than 80 charities over the years. 

Aside from hosting a creating and inclusive event to build Dulux’s brand-recognition, they’ve managed to separate themselves as a fun, lively, and colorful brand in the paint industry.

A Niche Beer Boasts “Probably The Best Poster in the World”

Carlsberg may not be the most recognizable beer brand, but since 1847 they’ve boasted they’re “Probably the Best Beer in the World.”

In 2015, they set out to prove that theory with a billboard set-up along London’s famed Brick Lane that read “Probably the Best Poster in the World,” in a cheeky nod to their classic slogan. 

So, what made their “poster” so great? Well, you can’t go wrong with a billboard that dispenses free beer from a branded Carlsberg tap. 

While the experiential marketing gimmick of a “free pint” is never a bad idea if you want to attract thirsty pub crawlers on a busy street in one of the world’s biggest cities, Carlsberg’s innovative interactive introduced consumers to a niche brand they may have been previously unfamiliar with.

Lean Cuisine’s Feel Good Experiential Campaign

In an age of health and wellness (along with a lot of deceptive Photoshop edits), looking and feeling your best is difficult, even with a rising trend in body positivity. 

Lean Cuisine, the popular frozen food brand focusing on calorie-conscious meals, took a refreshing approach to “dieting” and its impact on societal views of “the dreaded scale” by asking consumers how they would prefer to be weighed.

Their #WeighThis campaign, held in the middle of New York’s Grand Central Station, allowed women to have a professional sign-painter “weigh them” based on aspects of their life they felt were most important to them, like: their compassion for others, dedication to their careers and families, how hard they worked to achieve a goal, and more.  

Devoid of any product samples of promotional teams, this experiential installation inspired participants to share their experience via a branded hashtag on social media, and broadcast to the world that beauty is much more than a number on a scale. 

Lean Cuisine’s #WeighThis campaign became a viral success with over 210 million impressions online and a 428% increase in social media mentions.

Lean Cuisine Weigh This Campagin

Louis Vuitton’s “Legendary” Partnership

Last September, Louis Vuitton announced a partnership more head-turning than anything you’d find on the catwalk. 

“League of Legends,” an online multiplayer game is the most-played PC game in the world. It’s popularity is so prevalent there’s even an annual “League of Legends World Championship,” showcasing the talents of the best players and teams from around the world. 

For that year’s winners Louis Vuitton created a case for the “League of Legends World Championship” trophy. Louis Vuitton’s bespoke truck, the first of its kind for an esports championship, featured the luxury French fashion house’s iconic branding, along with high-tech elements inspired by the “League of Legends” “universe.”

The unlikely partnership between Louis Vuitton and “League of Legends” publisher Riot Games received so much attention that a limited-edition collection (LVxLOL) designed by Louis Vuitton’s artistic director of women’s collections was released at the end of the year.

Louis Vuitton League of Legends

Elevate Your Brand’s Perception with Experiential Marketing

It’s never too late to show the world who you are. It just takes a bit creative flair and some out-of-the-box thinking. That’s why experiential marketing is the perfect way to not just sell a product, but to introduce (or re-introduce) yourself to your consumers and beyond. 

Regardless of your brand’s goals, you can elevate your brand perception with innovative strategies that engage emotionally and capture the senses and imaginations of audiences, both old and new alike.

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How to Target Generation Z and Millennials in Your Marketing Campaigns

Tips

Twitter Experiential Marketing

Capturing a staggering 64% of the world’s total population, Generation Z and Millennials are a generational force to be reckoned with, and marketing campaigns are armed with insights and strategies to capture these historically unique (yet once dismissed) demographics.

With over 100 million of them in the U.S. workforce and accounting for nearly 30% of the U.S. population alone, Generation Z and Millennials are the newest generations whose purchasing power demands attention by brands in the U.S. and around the world.

The same traditional marketing campaigns Baby Boomers and Generation X are accustomed to can be lost on Generation Z and Millennials. In 2019, the Pew Research Center found that Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram receive the most traffic from users between the ages of 18 and 29. 

Check out these tips to capture the hearts and minds of today’s most in-demand generations.

There IS a Difference

… And a big one. In fact, the biggest mistake marketers can make is assuming Generation Z and Millennials are one in the same. Millennials are population segments born between 1981 and 1996 and those born after are considered to be Generation Z. Think of it this way: Lady Gaga and Mark Zuckerberg are Millennials. Kylie Jenner and Billie Eilish are Generation Z. Treating “young people” (18 to 35 age-range) as a monolithic segment of the population is a marketing mistake. 

Most Millennials came-of-age during the “digital revolution,” but also remember a time before smartphones and Amazon Prime. While they crave authenticity, Generation Z values transparency, relatability, and personal connections even more. Those attributes are hallmarks of social media standards that dominate society and culture today.

Philadelphia Cream Cheese Promotion

The Power of the Influencer

Another noteworthy (and surprising) difference between Generation Z and Millennials is “the power of discounts,” because who doesn’t love “a good sale”? While 67% of Millennials polled by BusinessInsider in 2019 said they would visit a specific brand’s website to receive a promotion or discount, only 46% of “Gen Zers” said they would do the same.  

In the same poll, 71% of Millennials indicated that online marketing was a direct reason for purchasing an item, whereas only 59% of Gen Zers said online marketing had a similar effect.

So, what is a powerful marketing tactic that does work? Enter, social media influencers. In a report from Think With Google, 70% of Generation Z subscribers to YouTube said they view YouTube personalities like PewDiePie, Shane Dawson, and Mr. Beast as more relatable than mainstream celebrities. 

Harnessing the sway influencers have over their millions of fans (and billions of views) is a strategic marketing tactic brands can use to leverage their reach with a vast audience by being at the center of the cultural zeitgeist. 

Neil Patrick Harris Influencer Marketing

Brand Loyalty is a Thing of the Past

In previous years, having an identifiable and well-known “brand” meant half the battle was won when capturing a desired market share. In 2020 however, simply being ubiquitous isn’t enough for Generation Z and Millennials to open up their wallets. 

According to RetailDive, Millennials are traditionally more frugal than Generation Z, with some analysts suggesting the reason being a by-product of their experiences living through the Great Recession. Gen Zers on the other hand, are more willing to spend the extra cash on luxury brands. 

With both demographics hyper-aware of what motivates them to make a purchase, lower on that list is “brand loyalty.” Millennials and Generation Z gravitate toward brands that identify with their sense of independence and originality. 

In a study by Ernst & Young, less than half of Millennials and Gen Zers expressed they subscribed to “loyalty programs.”

Share Their Values

Much like Baby Boomers of the 1960s, Millennials and Generation Z are socially-conscious of the world around them and lean upon their values when making purchasing decisions. They expect brands to be aligned with those same values (i.e. environmentally-friendly, committed to LGBTQ rights, pro-gun legislation, etc…)

Marketing campaigns that engage with Millennials and Generation Z on an interpersonal basis and speak to their values, can create powerful messages that resonate with them on a deeper level and will capture their attention.

Zara Pride Brand Activation

Make Your Marketing Mark With Generation Z and Millennials

Representing the two largest generation demographics in the U.S., Millennials and Generation Z are the nation’s most powerful consumers bases and will be for years to come. As long as you cater to their wants, needs, and values now with marketing campaigns and strategies that appeal to them and who they are, you can develop long-term customer relationships that will lead to unlimited potential and growth for your brand.

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Branding on Wheels: Why Food Trucks are the Perfect Way to Promote Your Brand

Experiential Marketing

Need to give your next experiential marketing campaign a jump start that’s eye-catching and stands out? A food truck promotion is your new go-to for creating an experience that captures your consumers senses in an unforgettable way. 

Experiential marketing with a branded food truck is one of the hottest and most in-demand ways to get your brand directly in front of consumers.

And, food trucks can be utilized for much more than sampling food and beverage items. From fashion to financial services, the uniqueness that a branded food truck brings to your experiential marketing campaign will turn heads along with a team of smiling faces to bring the essence of your brand to life.

A Food Truck Promotion Heats Up Your Brand

You’ve probably seen food trucks cruising the streets in your area or parked in the perfect spot to grab lunch or a late-night snack. But, can food trucks also be used as an effective experiential marketing platform? 

With custom-wrapping that draws attention and branding that engages your audience, food trucks are some of the most creative and effective promotional tools for sampling, giveaways, retail promotions, and more. 

When Chanel launched their Le Rouge campaign in December, 2018, they wanted to heat things up by giving their customers a special treat. For the entire month, vintage Tuks were parked along three different locations in SoHo serving piping hot, luxurious cups of hot chocolate. In a tongue-in-cheek nod to the eponymous founder of Chanel, these cups of “hot coco” (sporting Chanel-branded sleeves) not only drove brand awareness, but also endeared them to New Yorkers in need of a warm pick-me-up just in time for the holidays.

A Food Truck Promotion Gets You #Trending

Looking to increase your brand’s reach with consumers on a mass scale? Social media is today’s “word of mouth,” so it goes without saying that connecting with your audience across the digital space is necessary in 2020. 

Food truck marketing provides an experiential marketing strategy that helps make your brand relevant and favors personalized interactions with consumers over “one-size-fits-all” mass marketing. Last summer, Calvin Klein wanted to take advantage of those always-trending “national calendar days” (think, “National Pizza Day” or “Talk Like a Pirate Day”) by creating a campaign celebrating “National Underwear Day” with a branded food truck

On a hot August day last year throughout Manhattan, Calvin Klein and Van Leeuewen Artisan Ice Cream handed out custom MyCalvins and ice cream cones that coordinated with the colors of the custom underwear.

What better brand to drive the conversation on “National Underwear Day” across social media (and beyond) than the company that made boxers and briefs “cool”? By utilizing a well-timed and meaningful experience, Calvin Klein capitalized on a day (practically) made just for them.

A Food Truck Promotion Changes the Perception

Using a branded food truck can be a unique method to test out or launch a new product in a way that captures consumer interest, allowing them to see your brand in a new light. 

When one thinks of “trendy” and “cutting-edge,” credit card companies are not the first industry that comes to mind. But, Mastercard wanted to change consumers’ perceptions when they used experiential marketing to promote their Tap & Go  contactless technology. 

Partnering with Capital One, Mastercard utilized a branded food truck featuring mouth-watering fare from renowned chef JJ Johnson of Harlem’s FieldTrip to interact with New Yorkers and show them how to use their Tap & Go  cards through interactive stations located in front of the customized truck. 

An added bonus? Along with delicious (and complimentary) eats, participants were also treated to free Metrocards just for stopping by and seeing what Mastercard had to offer.

Drive the Conversation with Food Truck Promotion

Food trucks are an ideal solution for brands looking to promote themselves in an unexpected and out-of-the-box way. Whether you want to test out a new market, launch a new product, raise money for a good cause, or get trending on social media, food trucks are an innovative mobile billboard for your brand. 

Gone are the days when customers would automatically come to your brick-and-mortar location. In 2020, we live in a society where the world is at our fingertips and at the touch of a button. It’s become necessary for brands to create personalized interactions in order to increase brand loyalty (and sales).

By incorporating food into experiential marketing, you can create a memorable, multi-sensory experience for consumers. So, whether you’re planning your next marketing campaign or hoping to make a splash with a one-time experience, a food truck promotion is the perfect way to invite customers to fully experience all that your brand has to offer.  

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