If you’re in retail, you understand the importance of a customer experience. As more and more shoppers become experience-loyal, not brand-loyal, the term experience is something you probably say or hear at least once a day. Today’s buyers seek out experiences as part of the long-term relationship with a brand.
Experiential marketing for retailers is an essential part of the media mix. By providing a series of experiential touch points along the consumer’s journey, you can demonstrate the relevancy you have with your target audience. Experiences help excite consumers; this form of advertising becomes a live event or memory for your consumer, which triggers intent to purchase and sparks organic word-of-mouth marketing. Experiential creates a deeper, personal connection between brand and consumer than other channels of communication.
So what is the best way for a retailer to jump into the world of experiential marketing? Here are our suggestions.
Field Marketing Promotions
When you want to drive foot traffic to a specific brick-and-mortar location, one hyper-local targeting strategy is to unleash well-trained brand ambassadors who resonate with your target audience into strategic locations to talk up your store, pass out offers, encourage social media chatter and strike up one-on-one conversations about your brand. Under Armour recently started to use street marketing tactics to generate buzz about factory store grand openings, which have consistently resulted in top consumer conversion ratios. Not only are more people entering the store, more items per transaction are happening. By targeting shopping centers, fitness gyms, fire and police stations and school sporting events, UA-branded Segway teams penetrated the local market by connecting with the right audiences.
Pop-up marketing allows you to engage and directly sell to consumers in locations that are convenient to them. There are many options to consider when planning a pop-up store. If your retail location is in the suburbs but you want to have a presence among the business pedestrians downtown, you could have a pop-up store during mid-day lunch hour in a popular district. You could literally set up your shop on the sidewalk or in a park. Or, maybe it’s the reverse situation, where you want to take your urban shop to the middle of a suburban shopping mall. Or, maybe you want to take advantage of the crowds at a local festival or sporting event, or during your market’s popular concert series or beer garden events. You may even want to partner with another retailer, and exchange retail space within each other’s stores. Some stores, such as Halloween-themed costume shops, holiday basket sellers or gardening boutiques, will offer seasonal pop-up stores in vacant retail locations. These temporary pop-up shops broaden your reach and create memorable shopping experiences outside of your usual four walls.
Become an attraction. Whether it’s a one-off retail entertainment event or a series of retail experiences at the point-of-sale that engages consumers in fun, friendly fashions, retailtainment can really drive home the culture of a brand and encourage frequent, repeat visits – to see what’s happening in store today. Those who flock to Cabela’s, for example, know that they will see live fish aquariums, explore a gun museum, interact with a hunting arcade-esque game, learn new fly fishing techniques from experienced industry experts and oh yeah, also buy all their gear for that upcoming camping trip. Whether you create a total in-store attraction or smaller event-focused experienced, providing entertainment that appeals to your target audience is a great way to attract buyers to the store.
Augmented Reality Fitting Rooms
Whether it’s for your pop-up store or actual retail location, an augmented reality fitting room can make trying clothes and accessories on a lot easier – and more fun! A perfect tech-integration for apparel and jewelry retailers, augmented reality can also be used to combine an online and offline shopping experience. Point a mobile app at a product’s tag or in-store signage to have an online store’s interface appear, complete with drop-down options, customer reviews, gallery images and more.
Digital Interactive Technologies
Augmented reality and interactive mobile apps are not the only ways you can go digital to create memorable experiential marketing moments. ASICS created a digital “race” between consumers and Olympic marathoner Ryan Hall (watch the video). Sporting goods retailers can duplicate this same type of experience: cycle against Alberto Contador, jump as high as Lebron James, pitch as fast as A.J. Burnett, etc. Using virtual reality simulations are really memorable experiences – inside the store or during an off-premise event. Digital interactive showrooms, off- or on-site branded interactive kiosks or using live large-screen social media interactive displays are other examples of how you can create tech-friendly experiences.
Beacons are being deployed at rapid speeds. Business Insider predicts 85% of retailers will employ beacon technology by 2016. Beacons are another way to create personalized experiences that integrate with the one device shoppers don’t leave home without: their smartphone! By setting up geofenced areas of your stores, i.e., your departments, you can send a shopper a special offer via your mobile app that they’re using on their phone. Someone shopping in the home goods section of your store will receive different content than the guy shopping in the auto department, based on physical location within the store. This is a great way to forge deeper relationships with your current shoppers by giving them more engaging experiences in your store. But some retailers also recognize that they may want to use beacons to entice a competitor’s shoppers to try their store, instead. By jumping into a beacon network that works on multiple third party apps, an advertiser can reach out to people not in their store and offer them a reason to switch retailers.
Are you a retailer looking to try experiential marketing for the first time? Contact dio to discuss all the possibilities today.