Two things at the forefront of the minds of many business owners now are sustainability, and keeping the brand connected to an increasingly fast-paced world. It would be all too easy for any business to put a huge budget behind a campaign that picks up millions of views online, sees a spike in media coverage of their product, and eventually generates huge sales, but people are seeing through that.
Consumers want to know how ethical, how sustainable, and how beneficial the product they are seeing is. They want to know if the budget to shoot the elaborate advert factored in any green initiatives or had sustainability in mind. They want to know whether the products are sourced a certain way, sold a certain way, and shipped a certain way.
It’s understandable, the figures provided by national authorities and environmental experts make for dire reading after all. So how do businesses begin to adapt to new ways of thinking and how can their marketing efforts be part of the change?
Luckily, innovative marketers and businesses willing to change for the better have adopted new methods that allow them to push their business forward whilst staying committed to sustainable initiatives and at the same time, educate their customer base on the importance of more environmentally friendly practices.
The experiential agency London team from Smyle has been embracing sustainability at the heart of many of their events and is now seeing it help clients bolster their green initiatives and educate the consumer taking part in the events.
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Experiential Marketing? What?
Experiential marketing, often referred to as immersive marketing, is a form of marketing where the target audience is given a memorable experience in a way that traditional media cannot. An experiential marketing campaign aims to tap into what the consumer feels, believes, and enjoys. As a result, a real connection can be formed. One where the brand can be seen in a different way from what it may have been before.
Experiential marketing can be in the form of live events, it can be something that doesn’t even directly involve the customer. Think of the Red Bull Stratos jump by Felix Baumgartner. Nobody took part in it other than Felix and the Red Bull team. The impression it generated was huge though, with tens of millions watching it happen live. Nike embraced experiential marketing with a campaign called Unlimited Stadium, where a regular running track was converted into the “unlimited stadium,” a place, where using RFID technology, runners could race against their own digital avatars on an LED screen.
Two vastly different campaigns, but both stick in the memory. The Red Bull effort further enhanced the Red Bull message of pushing boundaries, pushing yourself, and being full of energy and adrenalin. The Nike campaign promoted Nike footwear and athletic gear but also encouraged you to push your limits, beat your goals, and challenge yourself. There are, of course, plenty of other options.
Smyle for example, ran a campaign for BT, when it launched its new 5G service. Rather than rely on social media, TV, print or radio, Smyle and BT made a spectacular live event hosted by Tess Daly where live music was performed among a light and sound spectacular as well as a Guinness world record achieved with 160 drones!
So how are brands making spectacular immersive events, or campaigns that deliver sustainable goals?
Empower Engagement Through Experience
Experiential marketing exists to create something memorable for an end user. Its uniquely crafted immersive experiences are made to resonate with audiences in such a way that not only is the event remembered, but it is felt. Factoring in sustainability into these innovative marketing efforts can not only communicate the brand’s dedication to green initiatives, but also educate the audience on how they can also be part of a change for good.
So how are brands, and the experiential agencies they take on board factoring in sustainability to their campaigns?
Eco-Friendly and Eco-Conscious Installations
The event may be a live show of sorts to showcase a product but, today, where sustainability is so important to so many, it could be worth showcasing how the product went from design to production, to end user.
Especially if it used sustainable practices to do so. Interactive displays and POS – powered using renewable energy – can tell the story of a product and enhance a customer’s belief in the brand and the newly launched product. A consumer seeing that a business is doing its utmost to finesse production to become more sustainable will resonate with many.
Minimal Waste Events
Your event will likely be a vibrant, memorable occasion. With a huge focus on both the product and the consumer, there will be efforts made behind the scenes to ensure that everything runs to budget and on time. Opting for a minimal-waste event will not only save on the budget but will also deliver an important message to the viewers and attendees. The Smyle agency for example will carefully plan their experiential marketing campaigns with a sustainability focus on:
- Energy sources and use
- Transport and travel
- Choices of materials used for physical builds
- Food and drink choices
- Waste minimization and management
This can further extend to renting furniture rather than buying, using recycled materials for signage, offering reusable cups with a money-saving initiative at the bar and donating unused items to charity after the event.
The Importance of Storytelling
Experiential marketing is all about immersing the individual in the moment but creating a memory of that moment that lasts for a long time. Storytelling does this throughout the entire campaign, but brands can also factor this in with their focus on sustainability.
Brands can create leverage by storytelling to communicate their sustainability journey. How they source products, put the event together or work ethically will all resonate with an audience and see consumers connect with the brand on a much deeper level than if the event was simply a product announcement or live show.
Transparent and Authentic
Authenticity is key in any business. Without it, you run the risk of being caught out the moment you are challenged. Customers value authenticity, it makes them feel more connected to the brand and allows them to feel so much more aligned with the product and the brand values.
Brands looking to adopt sustainable practices should be open and honest with what they have achieved but also where work remains with their sustainability goals. An experiential marketing agency can help demonstrate this by showcasing throughout the event all of the changes the brand is looking to bring and celebrating those that have been achieved.
Engage and Educate The Consumer
We touched upon this a little above but let’s drill down a little more.
Educational Workshops and Experiences
Throughout the event, workshops, talks or interactive experiences can educate a consumer on sustainable practices that have been adopted by the business. In many cases, these practices could also be adopted at home or in the workplace. Especially if they are seen to save money!
By creating content and experiences that drive engagement, we see consumers taking on board eco-friendly behaviours and hopefully, adopting them in their own lives. When you engage the consumer in activities that promote eco-conscious behaviour, you empower them to make informed decisions.
Experiential marketing is meant to bring customers an experience that is enjoyed and by incorporating a level of gamification, you give the customer something that can be both enjoyable and educational. With the help of the experiential agency, brands can design challenges, games, virtual events and more that all encourage consumers to adopt more eco-friendly habits and see themselves rewarded for doing so.
How Can It Be Measured?
We will use Smyle as an example again here. They measure the success of sustainable initiatives at the experiential events they facilitate with a wealth of data. Data that can be used to finesse their future efforts but also be shared with their client to show whether specific KPIs were hit.
Data such as carbon footprint, waste reduction, cost controls, and more can all be accounted for allowing for a space for both agency and brand to learn but also celebrate. There is definitely a space for sustainability within the experiential marketing world. Putting the two together not only captivates audiences but stands to inspire them too. Intertwining immersive experiences with a commitment to sustainability helps brands forge a stronger and more positive connection with consumers where a shared vision for the future is held.