How weighing in on controversial topics can benefit brands, continued proof that the human touch matters in purchasing decisions, and how technology keeps shaping how we market to consumers

 

Key takeaways:

  • Purpose-driven marketing does not have to be philanthropic. Often, brands can benefit from controversy when they take a political stand that they believe in.
  • The data show that personal experience and word-of-mouth recommendations reign supreme when it comes to consumers’ major purchasing decisions.
  • Augmented reality and virtual reality continue to spark marketers’ imaginations and help them produce more impactful campaigns.

 

When protest and cause marketing help brands win big

Marketing campaigns that benefit a philanthropic cause are a smart move for brands looking to broaden their fan base and win the hearts of prospective consumers. Now more than ever, consumers are concerned with corporate values and how organizations impact the community and world at-large. In fact, a whopping 87% of Americans said they would make a purchase from a company who supported a cause they care about. Now global and local brands, from Citi and Toms to Chobani and Passion Planner, are mapping social and purpose-driven marketing into their repertoire.

But that purpose doesn’t always need to be philanthropic. Nike recently got attention when they took cause marketing into the pantheons of politics. The brand's newest ad campaign featured embattled former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and included captions that encouraged viewers to stand up for what they believe in. Many deemed the ad to be polarizing due to the controversial protest Kaepernick initiated by kneeling during the national anthem. But brands like Nike are betting on the fact that taking a political stand won’t be a negative in the end. This article in Campaign points out that “brands have the resources to effect change. So increasingly we see brands entering the political arena to spark dialogue and, hopefully, drive advocacy.” Brands can benefit from participating in political discourse, and sometimes “stirring thing up” can result in increased brand support – and sales.

 

Why word-of-mouth carries the most weight

When it comes to a brand experience, much of the power lies in getting hands-on with a brand. This is a benefit that other marketing methods, most notably digital, can’t offer. The data show that brand impact is much higher for events and, even in our IoT-focused, online world, it is often referred to as the future of marketing.

A recent study by Audience Audit reinforced this concept in finding that consumers still regard personal experiences as the most valued source of information. They published an infographic that summarizes the data, also finding that word of mouth is even more important in this digital age than before. In fact, taking these two methods of marketing into account, consumers are more likely to rely on personal experience when making a substantial purchase, and recommendations from a friend, relative are valued 27% more than advertising. As the infographic shows, even though we are increasingly “plugged in,” there is no replacing human touch.

 

Kimpton goes all in on driving the hotel experience

Experiential marketing goes beyond creating a positive brand experience and engaging consumers. Experiential can fill several additional functions: providing brands with data and consumer insights, building a fledgling reputation or changing public perception, and improving social media effectiveness and PR, to name a few.

Hotel chain Kimpton is bringing experiential to the hotel space and demonstrating how the tactic can translate to hospitality. Kimpton instituted what it calls “social experiments,” which include unique features in each room. These include hand-painted murals, donations to a charity of the guest’s choice, and Polaroids for selfies. They even throw in a bartender that whips up personalized cocktails based on interactive activities. Kimpton’s CMO explains “We know there’s a place for technology in our hotels but believe that meaningful human connections are what bring people back.”

 

New technologies take marketing and advertising to the next level

When it comes to brand outreach, Tom Felix La Vecchia at X Factor Media speaks for many industry professionals in believing that “experiential marketing has become the norm when it comes to attracting, converting and retaining clients.” While social media and online engagement provide positive rates of return, consumers expect more. Brands are seeking authentic communication methods that resonate with their audience, and brand experience has become the answer.

Technology has played a large role in ensuring that experiential wows consumers and helps brands tell their stories in powerful ways. Platforms like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are leading the way as popular options. And brands are just getting started. Here are 11 predictions for the future of AR and VR in marketing from some of the industry’s top leaders.

 

Refinery29’s 29Rooms continues to wow audiences and marketers alike

Refinery29 was founded with an admirable mission: to be a “a catalyst for women to see, feel, and claim their power.” The digital media company is known for championing young women’s causes and delivering content that they care about through exclusive editorials, videos, and more. They even have a place where visitors can shop. The company was founded 12 years ago by 4 young professionals, and it now boasts nearly 500 employees across the world. And, as a digital enterprise, the company has used brand experiences to connect with the communities it serves.

Three years ago, Refinery29 launched its pop-up event 29Rooms. While it started as a way to celebrate its 10-year anniversary, it has grown into a pop-culture phenomenon, hailed as one of the best brand events of the moment. The activation features rooms full of experiences, performances, talks, and more, and is produced in partnership with leading brands like Disney and Michael Kors. This year’s schedule bookended New York Fashion Week, as it has in the past, and included interactive installations and appearances by celebrities and major fashion brands. If you were unlucky enough to miss this year’s event, Biz Bash fills you in on everything you missed.

 

How to use projection mapping to wow audiences

Projection mapping is not a new technology, but many in experiential believe that it might be an underused one. Simply put, project mapping is the process of projecting imagery onto a surface with technology. The visual stimulation makes events and presentations much more engaging for viewers. Brands have used this process to project logos on to ice rinks, buildings and more, but for experiential marketers, this tactic can be used to spark attention and infuse originality into an event campaign.

To get a feel for the various ways that businesses have used projection mapping to their advantage, consider some of the ideas chronicled in Blitz’s list of 62 projection mapping ideas. Of these many examples that span several industries, see how Southwest Airlines projected images onto aircraft hangars and how Vans’ included “animations.”

 

Even media giants are getting into the pop-up space

Pop-up shops allow brands to have the spotlight in a target location without the large overhead or time commitment needed to maintain a year-round operation. They give digital brands and ecommerce businesses a way to reach consumers face to face. Pop-ups can also be a perfect way to introduce a brand or product to a new market or target audience.

The popularity of these temporary locations has proven so influential that interior design and home decor giant Good Housekeeping is getting in on the action. The major media brand designed a retail pop-up in partnership with Mall of America and Amazon, with the goal of directly interacting with its female fanbase. The pop-up shop will bring passers-by through a picturesque setup, and give them the ability to make purchases that Amazon will fulfill and bring to their homes. Read on to learn more about GHLab, which recently opened just in time to kick off the holiday shopping season.

 

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