Consumers have dozens — in some cases, hundreds and even thousands — of choices when it comes to buying the products and services companies offer. The competitive nature of the marketplace means that marketers are under pressure to come up with highly effective campaigns and techniques. One option for marketers is experiential marketing.
Experiential marketing is based on the entire experience a consumer has with a product or service. Whereas traditional marketing sells by pointing out benefits and features, experiential marketing focuses on allowing the consumer to try the service or product for himself. Experiential marketers control the environment in which this happens to some degree, but they want the consumer to make his own judgments about the product or service.
Rationale and Goal
The rationale behind experiential marketing is that consumers, regardless of what they’ve heard about a product or service, ultimately keep buying based on how they personally interact with whatever the company offers — that is, it is the experiences of the consumer that result in brand loyalty. The goal of experiential marketing thus is to appeal both to the rational and emotional sides people have so the consumer has a product or service experience that is truly memorable.
Because experiential marketing is based on the experience consumers have, its main feature is that it engages multiple senses at the same time. For instance, if selling coffee, the marketer would draw the consumer’s attention not only to the taste of the beverage but to the way it looks and smells, its warmth and the pleasurable rush from the caffeine. Another feature is that it draws on the logic or sensory information the consumer has acquired or received previously. For example, in addition to pointing out the current taste, smell, warmth and rush from a cup of coffee, an experiential marketer also would help the consumer remember the past benefits received from being alert because of the caffeine and the happiness felt from enjoying a cup of coffee with family or friends.
Because experiential marketing appeals to consumers on multiple levels, it can focus a consumer on a product or service quickly. Therefore, it is useful for current environments and social environments in which people demonstrate a shorter span of attention. If it is successful, the customers who respond end up being loyal to the company, which means the business has fairly stable revenue and profit and that customers will refer others.
Experiential marketing is intended to engage as many senses and rationalization processes as possible. However, in reality, it is difficult to do this. For instance, a written coffee ad can show a person sipping coffee enjoying himself and include text about the flavor and aroma, but the consumer cannot actually taste and smell the coffee to see if he likes it. This means much of experiential marketing has to be hands-on and include one-on-one interaction, which dramatically reduces the number of people a marketer can reach at any given time. For instance, a marketer could hold a demonstration for a large group of 100 individuals, but a traditional TV ad could reach millions of viewers. It can cost a significant amount to use experiential marketing, as well, because the company has to provide samples or service hours free so the consumer can test what the company offers. Companies need to pay the people who do every demonstration.