So tell me, what was your favourite gift this Christmas?
Was it a charming Airbnb experience hunting for truffles in Tuscany or a cute little pet Hatchimal?
Could you touch and feel it and get instant satisfaction? Or did you have to imagine enjoying it in the future?
After furiously unwrapping the paper, was your reaction an ecstasy induced outburst of “OMG! I thought they sold out! Or was it an uncomfortable, gritted teeth murmur of “did you keep the receipt…?”
During the holiday season, one major talking point was what the best type of present to give friends and family if you wanted to be crowned gift giver of the year – an experience or a material purchase.
Well Cindy Chan, an assistant professor in U of T Scarborough’s Department of Management and the Rotman School of Management, gave us the verdict; if you want to give something that will make the recipient feel closer to you, give them an experience.
Wait a second…research the year before said material purchases were the ones that continued to provide momentary happiness repeatedly over time.
So which is it?
When it comes to attracting more customers and giving them what they want, is it better to offer experience or material gifts?
I say there is no contest.
You give them both. The experience AND the product.
There’s no doubt in the power of experience but having a memento to keep bringing that experience up can boost the duration of it.
Here’s 3 ways to turn unique experiences into special purchases that increases customer loyalty and drives sales at your live-event and long into the future.
1) Create Experiential Brand Playgrounds
What is an Experiential Brand Playground? It’s a popup-setup that’s on vacation. It’s having fun. It’s interacting with the public in their world. It focuses on putting the customer experience first and not prioritizing immediate profit return.
Retail thrill seekers can enjoy a heightened brand experience and still walk away with an exceptional purchase through experiential shopping.
When you install buying stations alongside exciting event activities such as entertaining and competitive games, photo booths, immersive media hubs, targeted brand information and other kinds of customized elements, customers have immense fun and so can be naturally led to the check out counter.
· Win prizes and compete against friends in interactive games
· Answer digital questionnaires and receive exclusive discounts
· Snap a photo, share it on social media and try a free sample
Let brands come to life and stimulate engagement. And that’s why 96% of people who participated in an experiential activation are more inclined to purchase the brand (Event Track). The experience becomes much more than a routine transaction.
By building multi-sensory, 360-degree brand playgrounds customers can touch, taste, feel, play and experience brands in their full glory. You inspire curiosity and successfully turn passive observers into active participators.
Brand Playgrounds With No Boarders
The real power of pulling digital into that physical experience is now the experience can be propagated much further into the social-sphere. That emotionally impactful brand experience can be seen by all that users Facebook friends.
So an experience really enjoyed by 200 people can be seen by for example 100-200x more people, so 40,000 people.
This was the result of one of our campaigns for Bud-Lime-A-Rita. 250 people’s weekend get-away was shared with 40,000 friends.
Experiential brand playgrounds allow to get in front of wide audiences in high traffic areas at specific times of the year to maximize product awareness and make a serious impression on sales.
2) Make Your Customers Shine
As much as you are enthusiastic to share the great value of your brand with your clients, don’t a key mistake made many times before — let me phrase this as a metaphor.
16th century astronomers thought the sun revolved around the Earth; and tried desperately to match their planetary orbits to fit this — it eventually failed. In fact recognizing that the Earth revolved around the sun made planetary trajectories much simpler and just worked.
In a similar fashion, by remembering that brands must fit into the needs and experiences of the customer, and looking for ways to make customers shine, they are much more likely to succeed.
Your brand hub has everything it needs to spark customer curiosity, capture imagination and inspire them to walk away with a purchase.
They now become the star of their experiential event show.
Personalize each Guests’ Experience
According to Psychology Today ‘personalization also reduces the amount of information needed to digest to get to the core message’.
Immersive and personalized event technologies can be meshed into the experience with an RFID wristband (that has customers social media, personal information, gender, hobbies, likes, dislikes and lifestyle to customize information shown).
Rather than bombard every guest with generic messaging and offer an exact experience to those standing around them, customers receive messages, videos, offers and recommendations that apply solely to them.
Customers take hold of the reigns and roam over the event landscape tapping, customizing and experiencing a more personalized brand adventure. This smart approach of prioritizing experience over immediate profit has been proven to have a ripple effect on sales over time and lead to stronger brand relationships.
Every interaction is authentic, relevant and forms stronger emotional connections.
Emotionally-Charged Memories Are Remembered Better
“The reason experiential gifts are more socially connecting is that they tend to be more emotionally evocative,” says Chan, who carried out the extensive research on experiential versus material gift giving.
So when brands create experiential events, they’re essentially giving guests experiential gifts. It’s a place where customers have fun, receive free samples and interact with the brand in immersive and tactile ways. We let them see more than just the colourful logo, the range of products and clever advertising.
An item on a store shelf can’t create those feelings by itself. A product needs to come to life. And using interactive, emotionally fuelled activities that emphasizes the product in a live-event environment allows customers to form deep and powerful emotions with brands.
Amanda Goode, an Assistant Professor of Marketing at the University of Western Ontario also says ‘Emotions gleaned from an experience may be stored as knowledge for evaluating prospective product experiences’.
So by creating a memorable experiential zone customers undergo major brand advocacy transformations. Whether or not they make an immediate purchase, they still leave with positive brand associations and store those emotions away for future recall.
If they leave the experience feeling satisfied, they are more likely to buy a product in the future, choose it over a rival brand, spend more money and return more often to the business.
3) Set up a Winning Trade Off & Foster Relationships
82% of customers expect personalized offers in return for personal data ~ Retail Week survey
Everyone loves receiving free samples from guerrilla street promotions. But once someone walks away with their prize the interaction is essentially lost.
Interactive brand hubs not only personalize the user experience but also allow you to tailor the journey based on information the customer gives you.
By learning more about your audience and their interests you can give customers (nearly) exactly what they want and they walk away with a more meaningful gift or giveaway.
· Trade a Facebook post for a free sample.
· Answer a quick survey for money off discounts.
· Cast a vote and enter a competition.
These brand zones provide a platform to giveaway samples whilst installing positive brand associated memories. Companies also capture key data and feedback that gives them huge advantages against competitors.
Keeping In Touch With A Tap
And even if guests didn’t buy anything, you have gathered rich customer intelligence. A track record of where they tapped and engaged, what activities they took part in, what they liked and what they shared.
This builds a more concise portfolio that allows you to send those follow-ups and marketing content with more precision increasing the likelihood of future purchases.
From our knowledge and experience in this space, we have put together what we call the “BRAND XONE” (pronounced ‘zone’) which allows a brand to capture much of this.
Immersive brand environments have the power to turn consumers into brand advocates and customers into die-hard fans who make purchases based off memorable event encounters.
These types of experiences live on in memory because you hit the emotional sweet spot where people feel satisfied and grateful for the experiential gift the brand gave them and for that they will always be thankful.
And by fusing experiential marketing with experiential selling brands offer wow! moments and special purchases that ordinary trips to the mall or loading up web browsers could never do.
These carefully designed immersive brand hubs complete with well-devised, customer-focused activities and seamless paths to purchase at its’ core, resonate much deeper with target customers and inspire buying.
So it’s not a question of experiential purchases versus material purchases. It’s about fusing the two together where the experiential ‘purchase’ is an live-event gift and the material purchase is a natural by-product of that experience.
I call them ‘Xperiential Purchases’.
What ways are you looking to increase sales at your experiential events? Get in touch today and we’ll help you create more memorable brand experiences.