Experiential marketing campaigns that put consumers first

People don’t want to be treated like consumers – they want to be treated like people. In our Millennial-led culture, individuals want to be seen as unique. They reject a one-size-fits-all model.

Today’s consumers want a brand to tailor its products and services to reflect their own needs. They see companies like Netflix deliver a fully engaging, custom experience, from the user interface to how they deliver media, and they want that model replicated. Everywhere.

The most successful brands are the ones that recognize this critical shift in how consumers think. And many speak to this need for personalization, transparency, and authenticity through in-person brand activation. These leading brands know that the opportunity to engage with consumers face-to-face can impact how the public thinks about and interacts with their company. From purpose-driven campaigns to ones that focus on the consumer rather than the product, experiential marketing campaigns and brand experiences are an ideal environment to develop a two-way relationship with your audience.

Brand activations that put the consumer front-and-center

Successful experiential marketing campaigns are ones that not only entertain and inform but engage and inspire. Whether its encouraging people to be better, or to do better, these activations put consumers first.

H&M x Coachella

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is one of California’s largest music festivals and social events. Last month in Indio, California, brands stepped up their experiential marketing game to meet the creative and discerning taste of Millennials.

One of the most successful brand activations we saw at the festival was presented by H&M. The brand has long aligned with Coachella, most recently with H&M Loves Coachella, a bohemian clothing line that is inspired by the fashion of the festival’s audience. With this exclusive line at the forefront, the H&M activation kept its Millennial consumer’s preferences front and center with an immersive augmented reality experience. Taking place in a house-like tent reminiscent of a Palm Springs abode, the activation highlighted H&M’s sustainable initiatives, a core cause for both Gen Z and Millennial shoppers, in a tech-forward, relevant environment.

The activation, powered by green energy, allowed visitors to virtually try on new clothes and, staying with the theme of sustainability, recycle their old ones. Attendees were also encouraged to make themselves at home. The brand offered immediate value to attendees by way of electric outlets and water refill stations over new bottles, which further showcased H&M’s sustainability practices. But no brand experience is complete without a photo opp. The activation featured a surrealist backdrop of a majestic mountain peak, making it appear as if guests were among the clouds. This type of unique illusion made images irresistible for sharing on social media.

In crafting their Coachella strategy, H&M provided attendees with a beautiful place where they were able to have fun, relax, and do something positive for the environment. Attendees left the H&M experience feeling good about themselves, not only because they had new, fashion-forward clothing to wear, but because they recycled the old. By focusing on both the basic and the emotional needs of festival-goers, the brand provided an experience that was in alignment with their values and fun to attend.

Disaronno Wears Etro

Brand activations that incorporate all five senses evoke strong emotions that consumers will forever associate with the brand. And according to research, “through a value-generating process, the multi-sensory brand experience offers behavioral, emotional, cognitive, sensorial, or symbolic value at a deeper, more internal level.” By presenting attendees with a rich, sensory-catering activation, brands can gain long-term impact.

Disaronno, an Italian liqueur brand, sought a creative way to introduce their new bottle designs to the nightlife scene. To reach their target audience, the brand executed two luxurious VIP holiday events that immersed guests in the sensory splendor of the Disaronno brand.

The events were designed to immerse consumers by stimulating all the senses and allowing guests to lose themselves in Disaronno’s lavish lifestyle. Invites for the exclusive event were sent to a select group of influencers and bloggers. Adorned with beautiful displays curated by world-renowned designers, the experience featured Disaronno paired with deliciously crafted food by a specialist chef, as well as cigar rolling stations. The design elements of each evening were all intentionally curated with a one-in-a-lifetime attendee experience front-and-center.

Disaronno brand activation

VH1 Glam ‘n’ Go Beauty Truck

Earlier this Spring, VH1 encouraged consumers to stop what they were doing and take a moment for themselves. The VH1 Glam ‘n’ Go beauty truck treated consumers to on-the-go makeup, hair and nail touch-ups to promote its new reality series.

Stopping in areas dense with foot traffic, the beauty truck surprised and delighted passers-by in offering the distinct experience of relaxation amid the chaos of the city. At the heart of their approach was convenience for those who might otherwise skip beauty treatments. Instead of simply advertising the new TV series, VH1 opted to invite potential viewers to experience the glamorous side of the “VH1 Beauty Bar” with cosmetic services that left them feeling unexpectedly pampered and confident for the rest of their day.

beauty makeover

Key takeaways: consumer-oriented experiences

Experiential marketing campaigns that are consumer-centric succeed in removing the hard sell and shift the marketing focus from the company to the individual. The experiences listed above excel because they:

  1. Leave the customer better than when they arrived. They provide value without asking for anything in return.
  2. Tantalize all five senses. Multi-sensory experiences are powerful and more effective in making a long-term impact on consumers than one-dimensional marketing.
  3. Consider practical and emotional ways of inspiring the consumer to action, rather than offering simple methods of entertainment.

By focusing on the needs of the individual, companies are better able to communicate brand value and create an emotional bond with current and prospective customers.