The death of retail was greatly exaggerated in 2018. While more than 3,800 retail stores from major brands closed their doors, there was another story taking shape. Savvy retail brands were incorporating elements traditional to experiential marketing, and thriving.
In 2018, interactive screens featuring augmented reality, Instagram ready displays, and FOMO inspiring pop up shops all became mainstream and part of the retail playbook. The new strategy became known as “Experiential Retail”, and in 2019 we expect it to evolve, with talent partnerships and in-store programming leading the way.
Experiential tactics work in retail because people tend to value experiences over “things”, and the feelings created by those experiences will be associated with the brands involved. When polled, 72% of all consumers say they view brands more positively following an experience, and 74% of consumers are more likely to purchase a promoted product after engaging with an event marketing experience.
However, building the perfect experiential retail space is only half of the battle. Repeat visits to a store will always be the best measure of interest and loyalty. Once your customer captures their perfect Instagram moment and buys your product, what is enticing them to come back? In 2019 steady schedule of talent and subject experts will be needed to keep your audience interested and drive in-store traffic. The history of experiential activations partnering with talent point towards this trend.
In many ways, experiential marketing became mainstream because it surrounded itself with talent. As audiences grew at music festivals such as Governor’s Ball, Lollapalooza and Coachella, brand attention followed. The opportunity to have a captive, repeat audience over multiple days was too great to ignore. Brands built activations around the festival experience and this trend has no signs of slowing down. In 2017, sponsorship spending on music tours, festivals and venues in North America grew by 4.8% to exceed $1.5 billion, according to ESP research.
When you consider the trend of experiential retail and sponsorship growth in live events, the next logical step is including talent as part of your in-store experiential retail strategy.
For example, imagine launching a new laptop with a multi-store tour of music producers. Talent could demonstrate new features, create music in-store, and hold Q&A sessions, all with your brand and product at the forefront. 81% of millennials shared photos on social media from a branded event. An event like this in your store would be a fountain of organic conversation.
Now imagine that conversation multiplied when people see the event online, and they know the experience is coming to their local store?
Incorporating Talent with experiential retail doesn’t have to mean music. You could get creative and announce an educational influencer tour.
Imagine a financial influencer educating your audience on maximizing their credit card purchasing power during your biggest sales season. Your customers would be inclined to spend more, primed by a new sense of intelligence surrounding their purchasing decisions.
In 2018, consumers showed us they will come back to the physical store when the experience is remarkable. Remember the buzz surrounding Instagrammable displays in retail? To sustain the excitement, retail needs to evolve again. In-store talent showcasing products and bringing an audience will be the next step in Experiential Retail.
About The Author:
Leif is the Director of Research and Analytics at BMF and a 20 year veteran of the entertainment business. When he’s not reading the latest books on marketing or behavioral science, you can find him sharing concert videos as @notleifgarrett on Instagram. Also, he once performed at the Australian Emmy Awards.