Making it matter: why purpose will drive this year’s experiential agenda
After a rocky couple of years, experiential marketing made a come-back last year. How will it double down in 2023? With robustly purpose-driven experiences, says Bertie Ager of agency 2Heads.
2023: the year where agencies focus on making experiences that matter? / Nick Kane via Unsplash
This year, experiential marketing is set to be one of the main ways that brands can connect with consumers in a truly meaningful way. With the threat of Covid-19 somewhat receding, consumers are re-engaging with live experiences: festivals, concerts, sporting events and wider culture. They’re calling out for moments they can share with friends, and which give them the opportunity to capture content that they use as a form of currency across social media.
When it comes to brand experiences, audiences are becoming more selective in the way that they engage with the brands they follow, buy from and respect. The most pertinent consideration is fast becoming how brands demonstrate their support for the causes that matter most to them as consumers.
But what does this mean for agencies and companies looking to activate in experiential?
What’s your purpose?
Simply put, we need to act with purpose. To attract consumers, experiences must be imbued with meaning; they need to matter, and they must have utility.
The power of brand experience is its ability to tangibly influence consumer behavior. In today’s world of shrinking attention spans, no other channel can engage consumers in such a unique way.
Most consumers are increasingly turning their backs on brands that don’t reflect their values. They are discerning, curious, and considered. They are looking to brands to act responsibly; to step up and take a stance on the issues that matter most to them. They are willing to spend time with brands – as long as any interaction helps them further their own lives, both at work and at play. They want brands to help them access services, technology, innovation, solutions, and knowledge that will drive human progress and deliver positive societal change.
This demand for action (not words) means that those brands which place purpose at the heart of their marketing will win.
So if clients need to act with integrity, what does that mean for agencies looking to leverage experiential? It’s about helping our clients speak with authenticity. We have to help them navigate the live environment, recommend when they should act, and how. We agencies, as guardians of brand experience, must craft and deliver experiences that connect on an emotional, as well as on a functional, level.
It's a delicate balancing act to achieve. As a creative planner I am contractually obliged to consider the principles of any brand experience; here are some key principles that matter most when designing truly memorable and meaningful experiences.
1. Have utility
Present ideas, products and solutions that can tangibly help consumers live a more socially responsible and considered life. Think: does what you’re creating have utility in audiences’ lives beyond the brand experience itself? What can consumers take away and apply every day?
2. Make it real
Authenticity trumps everything. Tell real-world stories of your product in action, of your people, and of your customers, to help forge emotional connections with consumers.
3. Green is the new black
Let’s be honest, experiential isn’t the most sustainable part of the marketing mix; we are all guilty of suggesting pop-up experiences, fleeting brand installations or touring campaigns. All of these come with unhealthy carbon footprints. That’s why it’s important to address things up front.
Experiential can never claim to have the most green credentials, but that shouldn’t prevent agencies from adopting new ways of working and exploring the use of new materials and technologies to lower the impact we have on the planet.
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4. High fidelity
The quality bar of content and storytelling has never been higher. In a world where ultra high-definition is in the palm of our hands and the sheer volume of content is overwhelming, our brand experiences must meet (if not exceed) the fidelity of the content consumed by audiences at home, at work and at play. Experiential needs to be arresting, otherwise it just becomes more noise.
Experience matters. So let’s make experiences that matter.
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