When you think of King’s Hawaiian, you can taste their sweet, soft dinner rolls. You probably don’t think…barbecue sauce.

Because awareness and recognition of their barbecue sauce line was limited, they asked us to spread the word. Through an aloha-themed mobile tour, we were able to effectively distribute 45,000 sauce samples during a 6-week activation.

Sampling played a key element to our tour. We know* 88% of people who trial a CPG brand away from the point of sale will remember to put the item on their next shopping list.

What’s more, we engaged with customers one-on-one. Brand ambassadors shared the King’s Hawaiian story and spread the brand spirit. And of course, we introduced the brand’s barbecue sauces to more consumers!


Orbit Gum Sampling Activation

It’s critical to connect personally with consumers in today’s marketing landscape. Brands who do are able to create communities of fans who are not only loyal but who talk about their brand positively to friends and family.

This is especially important for CPG brands.

The American Millennials Report polled over 4,000 millennials regarding buying habits. Their research shows that this large cohort of buyers are shopping differently than older generations. Only 42% say they shop at the traditional grocery store. This means that farmer’s markets, delis, online ordering, etc., offer new places to make CPG decisions. Plus, loyalty is harder to earn. They are brand loyal when brands create meaningful value to them. Otherwise, they are A-OK with throwing private label and generic brands into their cart.

This group of buyers: are digitally connected, value self-expression and personalization, enjoy convenience, navigate toward organic and eco-friendly products and are very receptive to experiences. According to Tetra Pak, even the material and design of the packaging are important factors when deciding if a brand will fit the buyer’s lifestyle.

A survey of 1,500 people aged 16 to 36 in 2017 revealed the top 100 brands loved by millennials. Not surprising, brands like Apple, Amazon and Samsung made the top ten. What’s lacking in this list are food, beverage and personal care products. These CPGs depend on repeat purchases due to their consumability.

Only ten CPG brands made this list, most of which are soda brands. Only one, Coca-Cola, cracked the top ten. This begs the question, how are CPG brands missing the mark with the millennial buying power?

Let me be clear, though. Experiential marketing isn’t only for millennials. All ages respond to brand experiences. Buying behaviors are shifting, and brands need to respond to these changes.

There are many benefits to experiential marketing for CPG brands.

Experiential marketing is about building (or rebuilding) brands. It’s about personifying the brand in ways that people can relate to and appreciate. It’s about finding refreshing ways to show off your authentic brand personality.

Brand experiences can launch new brands through sampling or point-of-sale retailtainment. Or, activations can reinvent a brand to make it more relevant today in its customers’ lives. Pop-up shops, branded events and PR stunts are all tactics to consider.

Like other marketing disciplines, experiential marketing campaigns can aid in your competition for shelf space or generate immediate sales. Its value, however, runs deeper.

For customers, it’s not only about picking products that serve a need. It’s about choosing brands that are an expression of our own values and lifestyle. What do certain brands represent to us? Do they reflect our own image? How do they make us feel?

Answers to these questions can be discovered through unique brand experiences. It’s here where we develop those connections and personal understanding of a brand.

For CPG brands, experiential marketing is an opportunity to connect with both a customer and a consumer. Oftentimes, not the same person. Both the purchaser and the end user need to have a relationship with the brand.

Brand experiences drive loyalty among customers and consumers. We call it building lifestyle loyalists. Engaging with the right audience who will respond to the brand, and winning them over head and heart to generate long-term value.

According to the Path to Purchase Institute, 65% of shoppers say that personal experience is the most important factor affecting a brand’s image.

Case in point, crafting more personal experiences to engage with consumers will shape your image. Therefore, providing more value to them. And gaining loyal customers.

With experiential marketing, of course, the experience doesn’t end at the cash register. User experience extends through consumption and beyond. A solid experiential strategy will ensure that your CPG brand is felt flawlessly throughout the entire brand-to-consumer relationship.


Sara Lee Sampling Activation
  • Glade: The 60-year-old S.C. Johnson fragrance brand evoked multiple emotions at their Museum of Feelings. Each Instagram-worthy zone featured a different scent to provoke certain feelings. This temporary interactive exhibit in New York’s Financial District drew crowds and social media buzz.
  • Sara Lee Deli: To launch its Artesano Bread, Sara Lee Deli designed a surprise and delight experience. Just as their bread turns the routine into remarkable, Sara Lee transformed a Phoenix park into a winter wonderland. Their Snow Day event included a grilled cheese station, where of course, families could taste firsthand how the bread choice makes the difference!
  • Lean Cuisine: This empowering #WeighThis installation at Grand Central Station asked women how they wished to be weighed. The inspiring and powerful wall of scales encouraged people to think differently about how you weigh you. By activating with a powerful statement, women connected with the Lean Cuisine brand in a more meaningful light.
  • Twinings: This longtime tea brand wanted to suggest a new way to stay hydrated all day at work. Teams of brand ambassadors visited offices across the U.S. to deliver Twinings samples. The tea brand understood how water becomes boring in that afternoon slump. So they delivered flavorful and healthful alternatives for staying hydrated. The larger ‘Make Water Wonderful’ campaign included digital content, targeted articles and meme posters.
  • Chobani: Famous for its cafe in SoHo, Chobani also recreates the pop-up cafe experience at trade shows and events. During Sundance Film Festival, they added a twist to their sampling efforts. Dehydrated yogurt mixed the herbs made a fantastic seasoning for popcorn during the film showings. Reinventing how sampling is done and offering unexpected experiences, Chobani won the yogurt war.
  • Magnum: The luxury ice cream brand operates a very successful make-your-own ice cream bar pop-up store in New York. Designed for pleasure seekers, the decor of the shop is as decadent as their ice cream. The brand experience screams extravagant magnificence. The next time you’re yearning for a rich, opulent moment of comfort, you’ll remember to grab a pint of Magnum. Even if you’re shopping at Walmart or Target.

These CPG brands understand the importance of personal connections with their audience. If you want to explore experiential marketing for your CPG brand, let’s connect.

*Sources: Path to Purchase Institute, EventTrack, Forbes, Tetra Pak, Sense New York