Live branded events are replacing brand sponsorship

Key takeaways

  • Several global companies are ditching brand sponsorship and producing their own proprietary live events. Like traditional brand activation, these boost brand affinity and achieve marketing objectives, but they also serve as an additional revenue stream.
  • Dominant brands are acquiring symbiotic start ups that improve their value proposition, marketing capabilities, and/or customer experience.
  • Delivering an optimal customer experience is not about messaging and technology, it is about ingraining the desire to deliver one into company culture.

Startup acquisitions changing the competitive landscape for large brands

Large companies such as Ikea and Nordstrom have recently been acquiring small startups that are tech-focused and known for their online and offline capabilities. This recent surge is in large part due to these brands’ growing need to diversify their capabilities in response to changes in the marketplace. These changes can be focused on improving the shopping experience, enhancing marketing and consumer engagement, and more.

This article in Forbes explores the many reasons behind these acquisitions. One in particular that is highlighted in the article surrounds Ikea, who recently acquired TaskRabbit, “an online platform that connects independent workers to opportunities, such as furniture assembly.” With product assembly a key pain point for Ikea’s customers, the move was an ideal example of a large brand identifying and taking advantage of a complementary business concept.

Brand sponsorship is taking second seat to proprietary branded events

Live events provide Viacom with marketing data – and revenue

Live brand events are often executed with the goal of achieving brand awareness or driving revenue. But in most cases, the revenue targets are related to future purchase, as the brand activation itself is free to attendees as a part of a marketing strategy. However, many brands are taking the traditional brand sponsorship marketing strategy in a different direction and producing their own live brand events that people pay to attend, providing the brand with the benefits of brand activation coupled with immediate revenue generation.

This summer, Viacom is adding three live events to their existing catalog, which includes the BET Experience and Comedy Central’s Clusterfest. In addition to generating revenue, these events provide Viacom with the opportunity to engage with new talent, create content, and gather key audience data for future targeting and advertising.

Interactive experiences distinguish finance brands

If you noticed that financial institutions have been getting more creative and experiential in their campaigns, you’re not mistaken. In the financial sphere, companies are also moving away from brand sponsorship to pursue other marketing avenues. Several companies have recently begun to host interactive experiences for their customers, such as Mastercard’s “Priceless Surprises” lottery and Chase experiences for premium cardholders.

The article points out that “Financial services companies are increasingly differentiating themselves on experience instead of product pricing.” Mastercard’s chief communications officer told attendees at Advertising Week that “storytelling is dead” and brands “need to engage with consumers in a way that’s completely different.” For financial institutions, that means rewarding their customers not just financially, but experientially. These brands are discovering the benefits in providing customers with a chance to experience new places, travel, or see live shows. These programs enhance brand loyalty and offer unique, memorable experiences that help them stand out from the competition.

brand sponsorship

Varying changes in the retail experience are not one-size-fits-all

We speak quite often about the disruption of the retail industry, and how it is affecting both online and brick-and-mortar stores. The ways in which people shop continues to transform with the times, and that means no concept is left behind, even grocery stores. These environments are transforming rapidly, which includes online, app-based, and other tech-oriented options.

In a recent article from Project Nosh, the author explores several recent announcements from major retailers surrounding innovating the consumer experience. Bob Hetu, a real estate analyst, says “the one thing all of these strategic announcements have in common is that they show retailers and brands are realizing that experience, value and quality have a significant impact on customer loyalty.”

Yet, brands found that not all consumers value the same shopping experience (quick checkouts versus personal interactions, for example). Read on to learn why innovation is critical but should be carefully considered and tested based on customer needs and preferences.

Embracing cognitive engagement

Cognitive technologies are an important tool for businesses to use in order to understand consumer behavior. Yet, very few companies actually take advantage of these advancements, according to research conducted by SAP. Deloitte Insights defines cognitive technologies as “products of the field of artificial intelligence. They are able to perform tasks that only humans used to be able to do. Examples of cognitive technologies include computer vision, machine learning, natural language processing, speech recognition, and robotics.”

For many companies who have not moved forward with these technologies, integration can seem like a challenge, as well as understanding their full capabilities. However, cognitive engagement can take traditional data from simple number and fact aggregation to deliver dynamic, personalized brand interactions instantly. The article lays out 4 tips for a successful cognitive engagement program and gives an example of how a retailer adopted cognitive engagement to improve outcomes for their brand.

Enlightened companies seeing a surge in marketing success

Digital technology has lowered several barriers to entry for start-ups and new brands, allowing them an unprecedented and expansive reach to consumers around the globe. It has also given consumers more visibility into who companies are and what their priorities are, which has led to a surge in a demand for corporate transparency. Cold, heartless corporate banter is no longer tolerated. Influence on today’s consumers has less to do with power and title and more to do with authenticity. The capacity for empathy is huge in marketing offices today and those who are struggling to project that in their media are having the hardest times.

The need for validation and empathy is also strong internally. Employees and millennial workers are staying in jobs for shorter periods and the workforce is increasingly aware of the challenge for workers to remain in unfulfilling positions. This article shows that enlightened workplaces and culturally-aware company leadership make for happier employees and better brand messaging.

The best way to execute an effective and consistent customer experience

Crafting the ideal customer experience is a top priority for brands of all sizes, from any industry. From the time a consumer first interacts with a company through purchase and beyond, each touchpoint must be considered and carefully crafted. Especially in this new 24/7 digital reality, marketing can no longer deliver great messaging and evangelize the benefits of a brand. Today it is marketing’s job to create an ongoing conversation with consumers to ensure a holistic customer experience is optimally executed.

According to this article in Inc., delivering this 360 degree experience and translating it into growth is most successful when the drive to deliver this customer experience is engrained into company culture, where the conversation in all circles originates with this intention. The author details how Nike, Disney, and Ritz-Carlton are expertly achieving this.