The importance of experiential marketing is something that brand and marketing managers are steadily and gradually waking up to. And although the adoption hasn’t been so high right now, it is delivering results for the ones who have been early adopters of it in their marketing plans. However, with the coronavirus pandemic forcing a disrupting change in the way people interact socially, at least in the short-term, experiential marketing tactics will need to adapt to the situation to continue being as effective. And perhaps, some of those modifications might continue to be practiced over a longer time frame, as the effect of the pandemic experience on the consumer psyche continues to reel on.
- While offline consumer engagement activities will continue to be organized, in order to generate brand trials, there will be a need to ensure social distancing while those events are organized. And therefore, events will have to be planned in a way that does not involve interaction between too many strangers, even when they are conducted in places such as malls or stadia.
- While brands will seek to promote the utility-value of their products, consumers themselves would be more conscious about general safety after the COVID-19 experience. And therefore, brands would also need to highlight the various safety features that have been built within their products and would be advised to promote the same while generating product trials during experiential marketing.
Heightened use of technology
The fact that there has been a greater general penetration of digitization in general due to the pandemic means that brands will be compelled to explore more digital avenues for experiential marketing. While this holds several possibilities, the key element to success would be to create engaging campaigns, both online and offline, while making greater utilization of technology. Thus, brands may explore the creation of digital showrooms, gamified events over social media, and the use of VR technology.
More Personalized Marketing
The need to create product trials and experiences will mean that brands will have to explore direct marketing to target consumers on a far greater scale. Moreover, such direct marketing tactics that they adopt would need to be personalized to the needs and aspirations of individual consumers. This will ensure two things. Since the target audience would be able to connect much more with the promotional message, it will have a much greater impact. Secondly, because the marketing is being done in a far more targeted manner, it will also ensure greater ROI on the marketing budget.
Focus on generating Shared Experiences
The lockdown that was forced by COVID-19 has resulted in two things. First, families got to spend more time together, and as a result, have come closer and shopping has revolved around the needs of a family rather than individual members. Second, because people have had to stay away from most of their near and dear ones (apart from immediate families), they would also have a longing to reconnect with them. Thus, experiential marketing practices will have to evolve to address both these seemingly contradictory phenomena. Not only do marketers need to generate one set of campaigns that appeal to a family as a whole, but they also would have to generate another set of campaigns to target people with similar likes and interests. Of course, such campaigns will be complementary to individual-focused campaigns. But surely campaigns that generate shared experiences will trigger a greater sales impact.
As seen above, there will be certain changes that are bound to happen in the period post the lockdown in the way brands go about implementing their experiential marketing strategies. And some of those changes may in fact be more permanent, but for the better.