What is Experience Marketing?

Experience marketing, also referred to as “experiential marketing,” is a strategy that uses in-person events to promote products.

Take pop-up shops or Apple’s legendary keynote, for example. Each of these events is experience marketing at work. They are designed to allow prospects to familiarize themselves with a product before purchasing it. A makeup or sneaker pop-up shop lets prospective consumers come in and look at the products that are normally only available online.

The goal of experience marketing is to create a really good consumer experience, increasing your customer value optimization. You want every attendee to want to show the event on their Instagram story and Facebook profile and to become raving fans of your brand.

How do you do that?

Examples of Experience Marketing

Example #1: Annual Apple Keynote Events

Apple’s annual product release event is designed to be a shareable experience for their attendees. 

Every attendee has access to the latest iPhone, iPad, and MacBook and gets to hold and use them as if they were in an Apple store. This creates an experience, the experience of being able to handle the newest Apple products before anyone else.

Example #2: Friends Cafe

In NYC, there’s an exact replica of the Friends Central Perk cafe. Fans can come and visit, sit on the infamous orange couch, and (most importantly) take an Instagram photo to share with their friends.

This experience marketing allows Friends fans to relive their love of the hit TV show. It creates the experience of being part of the show and being able to interact with one of its biggest sets. Other renditions of the Central Perk cafe can be found in Manchester, Beijing, Shanghai, and Buenos Aires.

Example #3: Kylie Jenner Pop-up Shops

Kylie Jenner is infamous for creating a billion-dollar fortune from an ecommerce website. Her makeup products are incredibly popular with her 156M Instagram followers, but until recently, they were only available for purchase online.

How do you create an experiential marketing campaign for an ecommerce store? Kylie’s answer: pop-up shops. Businesses will rent a building space for one or more days, brand the entire space, and promote it on social media. When customers come to the pop-up, they’re met with walls of products and plenty of Instagram-able moments.

Example #4: Ikea

Here’s an example you’re sure to have experienced yourself. When you walk through Ikea, what do you see?

Perfectly staged living spaces (living rooms, kitchens, bathrooms, children’s bedrooms, master bedrooms, etc.), that show you exactly what the experience of having a specific piece of furniture would look and feel like. Furniture stores (like Ikea) have been using experience marketing for years. 

Real estate agents have done the same by staging for-sale homes with furniture. The experience of being able to feel what furniture would look like in your own home, or seeing what it would be like to live in a for-sale house is what pushes people to buy.

How To Launch an Experience Marketing Campaign

Just like with any marketing campaign, the first step is getting to know your customer avatar. What does your customer want to experience from your event, restaurant, or store?

In the case of Apple’s Keynote, people want a minimalist, tech-filled environment that makes them feel like they were able to witness something that others didn’t. Tim Cook even comes down to the product area and takes photos with attendees. That is expert experience marketing.

This creates a memorable experience that people want to share. If you’re having trouble figuring out where to get started, you can break your experience down by the 5 senses:

  • Sight: What do your customers want to see? (Ex: Ikea’s customers want to see how a couch is going to look in a living room)
  • Sound: What do your customers want to hear?(Ex:Apple’s customers don’t want to hear just anybody talk, they want to hear from Tim Cook)
  • Smell: What do your customers want to smell?(Ex:Central Perk customers want to walk into the coffee shop and smell fresh coffee brewing)
  • Touch: What do your customers want to touch?(Ex: Kylie Jenner’s customers want to touch the makeup products and test them out to see which color suits their skin tone)
  • Taste: What do your customers want to taste?(Ex: Central Perk customers want to drink coffee while they’re hanging out in the iconic cafe)

At the end of the day, the most important part of experience marketing is to create an experience worth sharing—something that makes people connect with your brand and remember what a great experience they had because of you.

Takeaways

#1: Experience marketing gets customers familiar with a product and creates a stronger relationship between the customer and the brand.

#2: Examples of experience marketing:

  • Events
  • Pop-up shops
  • Restaurants
  • Stores

#3: The 5 key aspects of an experience marketing strategy are parallel to the five senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste.

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