Experiential Marketing Effective with Younger Millennials & Gen-Z

In a world full of marketing clutter, consumers today, especially younger millennials and Gen-Z (ages 16 - 22), are favoring brands that can deliver unique and personalized experiences. It’s why experiential marketing has been trending in recent years. Consumers place a high value on experiencing things in real life and wanting to connect face-to-face. They also value experiences and events they can share via their social media channels.

Digitally native Gen-Zers in particular, have never known a life without computers and cell phones — they've grown up using technology like the internet and mobile phones. They spend much of their time online tethered to their smartphones, and since they are constantly being bombarded by ads and sponsored messaging, they have become pros at disregarding traditional marketing tactics. They are certainly a harder nut to crack marketing-wise. And while nearly 100% of Gen-Zers spend on average over 4 hours per day online, this younger population is unique from a marketing perspective in that they crave in-person experiences. So what is it about experiential marketing that appeals to this younger crowd?

Shareability

Experiential isn’t just a way for brands to connect with consumers it’s also a conduit for social sharing. Creating an experience that consumers want to talk about online will help not only create brand awareness, but it’s also an important metric to gauge a successful activation. And since this younger population strongly values the opinions of their peers, receiving validation about their experience online is extremely satisfying to them. For brands, a deep engagement on-site with their consumers is great, but it’s social media that gives the activation legs, so to speak. Breaking through to consumers' personal feeds is truly where a brand can be seen and heard. Plus, if it didn’t happen on social media, did it really happen?

Transparency

Young consumers don’t like to be talked at, they appreciate a brand that is down-to-earth and transparent. One that can organically immerse itself into their culture. Younger consumers will quickly call a brand out for being inauthentic or unoriginal, so when a brand can tap into a big cultural moment and play a leading role with an experiential activation, it goes a long way. Social sharing also helps to create transparency, especially when Gen-Zers and young millennials become willing brand ambassadors.

It Makes an Impression

As more traditional forms of advertising increasingly bombard consumers, it becomes harder and harder for brands to break through the noise. To make a real impression. The Gen-Z pop thrives off of new and unique experiences and are increasingly choosing to spend their time and money on events and experiences over material goods or even the latest technology. A good experiential activation allows a brand to have face-to-face conversations with consumers, to deeply engage with them. It creates personalized experiences that are memorable and resonate. Qualities that this younger crowd is attracted to. 

It’s Multi-Dimensional

Experiential is unique in that it can deliver more than one message at a time allowing for multi-faceted experiences that are highly attractive to the younger population of consumers. A pop-up experience, for example, can tell a brand story and deliver a variety of messaging all the while allowing for consumers to sample products and have face-to-face conversations with brand ambassadors. It gives consumers 360 degrees of interaction with a brand.

So how have we at MotusExp successfully hit this target through experiential marketing? Being headquartered in Boston, the capital of college students, we have successfully helped brands access this segment of consumers. A great time to hit them is during Fall Rush, which is a small window when new students move into Boston. Your activation plan doesn’t have to be complex to get your message across — but hitting them both face to face on and off-campus is a good place to start. In conjunction with simple local advertising, a guerilla marketing approach is very effective. This strategy allows the teams to go where students hang out in order to distribute materials and create deeper engagement and conversation. 

When it comes to the younger millennial and gen-z population, it’s important to keep in mind that while they have grown up in front of screens, it’s face-to-face experiences they crave. These young consumers are good at cutting through the noise and traditional marketing tactics and appreciate shareable multi-dimensional experiences. Brands that are more transparent will break through to this target and make an impression.


Is Your Brand Ready for Experiential?

Clients come to us all the time wanting to really make an impact and connect with consumers. Experiential marketing is our bread and butter at MotusExp and we have a passion for creating campaigns that are truly and utterly customizable. Unlike TV, print, OOH, etc, experiential marketing allows you to take a business problem for a client and custom tailor a solution to meet a specific need with control over how a consumer will engage with it and the means by which you will reach them. You can target a particular audience and reach them in a way that will really capture their attention. In addition, 98% of consumers feel more inclined to purchase after attending an activation (EventTrack).

Experiential marketing connects with consumers on an emotional level, which is extremely effective long-term. It stops people on street corners and allows for brands and their offerings to be touched, consumed, measured and discussed. But you shouldn’t just jump full force into an experiential campaign without first taking into consideration some key factors. First and foremost, ask yourself — is your brand ready for experiential?

Make Sure your Timing is Right

Incorporating activations into your marketing schedule strategically is key. Make sure to give ideas some breathing room by allowing time for planning, production, promotion, permitting, etc. Rushing to get to an activation off the ground that you don’t have time to promote via the proper channels isn’t going to reach its full attendance potential, for example. Similarly, themes for your events should align with the product/service you are promoting as well as the season. So even though you may not want to sit on an idea that feels oh so good, timing really has a whole lot to do with the success of an experiential campaign.

Do you Have the Budget for It?

Thankfully, dollars go pretty far with an experiential marketing campaign in comparison to TV or print. Unlike other forms of marketing, with experiential marketing, it’s more about the quality and depth of an experience than the amount of impressions you get. So take the time to really plan, and partner with someone who will get it right. A marketer should also have a clear grasp on what their client is comfortable investing in a campaign. A big idea often times goes hand-in-hand with deeper pockets. Selling in a campaign with all the bells and whistles, on-site staff, premiums, promotion, etc. is certainly attractive, but stick to a smaller more targeted activation if money is too tight for a higher-level investment. Or, you may want to wait until you have the right budget for that big idea.

Campaign Strategy and Brand Value Align

Other factors that will lead to success include a campaign strategy that closely aligns with a brand’s current marketing strategy. A buzz-worthy experiential activation is ultimately the end goal, but if the content doesn’t align with a brand’s mission statement, at the end of the day you aren’t going to truly unlock the full potential of an activation.

Defining Success

The most important piece of the puzzle is your Return on Investment, so setting a goal upfront is key. What does success look like? How will you measure? Even the most impressive activations don’t always translate to the bottom line. So while astounding your audience is wonderful, making a profitable investment is most important.

Finding the Right Partner

Finally, the success of an experiential campaign (or any marketing strategy) relies both on a willing client, as well as a skilled marketer. A brand (or even marketer at that brand) that has a history of successful activations is going to see the value in the investment. Which certainly makes things easier — i.e. giving the agency more leighway creatively. That’s not to say that a brand shouldn’t hop on the experiential bandwagon for the first time, certainly, it has to start somewhere! We’ve guided many clients down that path. But just make sure the partnership feels right. A brand that doesn’t trust their partner agency’s leadership and expertise should walk away.

Bottom line? Before you invest financially, and allocate the manpower to launch an experiential campaign, you really need to ensure you have the right plan in place in order to successfully execute. A cohesive partnership between a client brand and their agency is the first step, in addition to a clear understanding of brand strategy, and budgets. The right timing is also important to ensure a truly impactful experiential marketing campaign. When you get it right, there’s nothing like a tangible brand experience to create a lasting memorable impression for a consumer, in addition to a stellar ROI.