Bright Ideas

On The Scent Of Success: Experiential Marketing vs Online Marketing

If you’re in the marketing world, the smell of change is in the air.



After Lush’s brave move to step away from social media marketing in the UK, and Amazon’s latest move to open pop-up shops in cities across the UK, people are beginning to reassess what they thought was an unarguable pillar of the marketing world. It’s almost like there is an emergence of a 180 degree turn, some companies are moving away from an online marketing focus solely, and started introducing or further strengthening offline strategies.

It is no surprise Lush took the (bath-bomb scented) plunge step. Known for their bold style and marketing savvy, their justification was to refocus on a marketing mix that works for them.They are not abandoning social completely – there has been hints they will continue working with influencers as they suggest hashtag activity – but this makes sense, as word-of-mouth and micro-influencer marketing is more effective in some cases than social media paid adverts. The most interesting factor however, is the brand’s identification of a single truth: Lush fans don’t value its social presence as much as they do its in-store experience. The brand decided to lean into this fact. But can it work for others?

Even purely ecommerce businesses such as Amazon and Missguided, see the value in creating opportunities for their brands and their products to be visible and present offline.  Creating pop ups, concessions, paying for outdoor advertising, the list is endless. Where we see the value of this shift is the re-focus on experiential marketing and developing the retail and brand experience.

When is experiential marketing better than online activity?

The big thing to note when comparing experiential and online marketing is the connection you have with customers. If you have a deeper connection you want to nurture in the long run, then experiential activity absolutely must be in the mix. It might not be your main ingredient, but it has to be in there alongside the more traditional email, social media, influencer marketing and display channels.

Experiential marketing is a fantastic support to online activity. Take Lush for example, they have an annual creative showcase where they take their experiential marketing to the next level on a mass scale, allowing brand fans to experience new products, hear key note speeches on topics they identify with, and fully immerse themselves in what Lush stands for. They also host instore events all the time and they use those events to generate a huge amount of branded content and user generated content to support their online presence.
You can do the same!

Does this translate to sales?

Absolutely. In fact, during a comprehensive industry study in Canada in 2015, 65% of brands that used experiential marketing said that it positively correlates with sales. Why?

Because at an experiential event:
You have people’s full and present attention
They experience your products in a multi-dimensional / multi-sensory way
You can collect data in the moment

Even when directly asked, 65% of consumers said that live events and product demonstrations helped them better understand a product. And 70% of those who purchased at events became repeat customers. Online brands recognise this, and include experiential and brand activation campaigns to support their growth strategies. Brands like Google and Netflix hold hundreds of events a year in Europe.

Get excited about experiential

In conclusion, experiential marketing can deliver ROI as well as add a dimension that online channels can’t deliver solely. However, you need to supplement. Experiential still needs a bit of a boost from online activity to get the most out of the event or the activation. The best results occur when both these forms of marketing work together.

For more great examples for this, have a look at this list of 45 ecommerce businesses that have expanded into the offline territory.

Here at Fresh we understand the importance of the things working in tandem: planning campaign and content strategy around an experiential. We always plan for this with our clients and have seen some stunning results because of it. Want to learn more? Simply get in touch! We’re always ready to chat.



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