Experiential marketing: trends of tomorrow

The power of yesterday

Emotional connections are key, and tapping into emotions, memories and stories is what makes experiential marketing so powerful.

Heather talked about her favourite day of the week being Thursdays. Why? Because of strong memories of ice cream at Visocchi’s after school, with the aroma of freshly baked wafer and steam hissing from coffee machines, followed by the best-of-the-week TV – Tomorrow’s World then Top of the Pops.

She’s not alone! The #ThrowbackThursday, or #TBT, trend on social media features hundreds of thousands of people, on the same day every single week, ‘throwing back’ to photos, video and images that mean something to them; material which evokes emotions, and conjures up warm feelings. And all of this occurs with just the inclusion of one or two of the senses. The more senses we involve, the more hard-wired the memories…

What’s next?

It’s undeniable that experiential trends for 2017 will continue to be those that involve or elicit an emotional reaction or connection, and first up in the continuing but evolving key trends is experiential retail – retailtainment.

Retailers creating face-to-face experiences for customers are adding value for their in-store ‘audience’ (what’s the point of visiting a physical store, otherwise?), plus, they’re gaining marketing value with customers sharing across social media platforms both during and shortly after the face-to-face interaction. Increasingly, generating opportunities for content creation – rather than content itself – will take over all channels. Snapchat lenses, Instagram filters, and inspiring, or genuinely entertaining shareable moments, are all on the ascendancy. Some hot developments are expected from the usual big players (Snapchat Spectacles, anyone?), but expect too some new faces, and DIY-ish responses to expensive kit trends (Google Jump? #MannequinChallenge).

Content creation from a new source

Brands and retailers need to be creating opportunities for content creation to occur in an organic and creative manner; those Instagram-able moments and stories told because of the presence of a powerful, theatrical experience. Introducing art and culture into retail environments, and exploring novel forms of collaboration with artists, theatre and creative technology organisations, is something we expect will be a Big Thing in experiential marketing.

Interactive elements for absolute immersion

With the inclusion of an interactive element, such as Random International’s Rain Room, the opportunity is amplified when ways to put the consumer at the centre of the interaction is explored through interactive elements.

Rain Room isn’t new, but its creators’ work has inspired new ways of looking at audience participation in immersive experiences – where each of us controls what happens next.

Inclusion with no bounds

It’s not always easy to create an experiential activity that appeals to everyone. LittleBits, an organisation in New York, is on a mission to democratize hardware by empowering everyone to create inventions with a platform of easy-to-use electronic building blocks. With their creation, visitors can engage by making projects on-site and can leave them for others to subsequently rebuild or edit, open-source style, or else purchase whatever they’ve invented, on the spot.

The intention of the NY store is to welcome everyone – not only those with prior electronic know-how – and help them make something rewarding.

Importantly, the store itself is a medium for the LittleBits team to increase their understanding of how people use and react with their product. They can, in real time, respond to the changing ways people interact with their product, and, by introducing different messages and environments within the store, test consumer perceptions and responses to the changes. Yes, it’s an experimental experience that is an experiential experiment!

In our next posts, we’ll be delving into tech rich retail for the time poor, blockchain technologies and the preoccupation with personalisation in experiential marketing.

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