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The Rise of Experiential Marketing: Beyond a Buzzword

Anyone who’s been watching marketing industry trends over the past few years will have noticed a shift away from traditional advertising toward what some believe to be a “new” sector of marketing: experiential.

A widely mentioned buzzword, “experiential marketing” is now recognized as the powerful tool it actually is—though the true definition, the reasons for its growth, and the secrets to its lasting power are not quite as familiar.

Defining Experiential

Experiential marketing has been around for more than a century; but, in recent years, because of various business and societal shifts, its share of global brand marketing budgets has grown significantly.

Experiential takes many forms, from pop-up activations to permanent installations, from B2B conferences to B2C experiences. The techniques used can address the senses in a tactile way or dazzle with digital engagement, but all experiential marketing programs share common elements.

The focus of experiential marketing is to facilitate personal interaction with a brand. The goal is to enable memorable and emotional connections with the brand by immersing the customer within the product or service to forge lasting brand loyalty.

Where traditional marketing techniques are almost exclusively interruptive and one-way, experiential marketing is voluntary and participatory. It’s a form of “advertising” wherein consumers consciously choose to interact with your brand, often identifying themselves as your most valuable targets. It’s the consumer’s decision to be informed about your product or service, and they’re actively involved in the process. That’s in stark contrast to traditional marketing communications, whereby consumers are interrupted and subjected to a brand’s message at a time of the brand’s choosing.

Demographics are at play, too: It’s no secret that younger demos prefer experiences over possessions. And they love to share their experiences with others, on social media and elsewhere.

Add in the growing distrust of corporate messaging and, frankly, too much brand noise in the marketplace, and you have a perfect storm of elements that point to experiential marketing as an especially effective marketing tool.

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