Does experiential marketing pay?

I run an expanding organic food company and we are trying to raise our profile through a variety of marketing campaigns. One agency has pitched to us with a number of exciting experiential ideas where they’d get consumers to interact with our products at stations and on high streets. I like the sound of this, but others have warned it’s a difficult approach to measure and advise we stick to more traditional mediums. Who is right and how can you ensure experiential marketing pays?


 Sharon Richey of LoewyBe writes:

Experiential marketing – the creation of live, face-toface interactions between brands and consumers – is all the rage in marketing. Rising costs and greater media fragmentation means companies are desperate for cost-effective marketing solutions to cut through the clutter and engage their consumers. Giving people the chance to experience brands for themselves is one of the most powerful ways to build awareness, influence perceptions and drive sales.

Your business sounds ideally suited to the medium. Superior taste and quality is no doubt one of your major selling points, so sampling is the perfect way to endorse that claim – especially if you’ve got a well-trained brand ambassador educating people about products as they try them. But taste should only be one part of your consumer experience. Think about creative ways to bring your organic values and brand messages to life and engage other senses. You’re not just sampling; you’re telling your brand story.

Be careful in choosing where you deliver your experience. Are stations and high streets really the best places? If you want mass visibility, then maybe. But commuters are typically in a hurry, so you’ll have less time to tell your story. If you’re after instant sales uplift, you may be better off closer to the point of purchase, perhaps outside supermarkets if your products are on sale there.

As for the idea that experiential marketing is hard to measure, that’s nonsense. In qualitative terms, you’re speaking directly to consumers, so you can instantly assess and record brand perceptions. Post-event telephone interviews, measured against non-exposed consumers, can then be used to track long-term recall and brand loyalty. On the quantitative side, mechanics such as money-off coupons with samples, free incentives on proof of purchase, or analysis of EPoS data from supermarkets can be used to track very precisely the direct impact of your activity on sales.

As long the agency you mention is experienced in live communication, and can deliver the required quality of staff to represent your brand, I’d certainly encourage you to try this exciting medium. I think you’ll find it a very rewarding experience.

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