For thousands of years, sellers of goods and services have understood the most important step in the process of getting someone to make a purchase is to first get them involved with what is being sold. For food products, this can be achieved by encouraging customers to try the product through the use of free samples. For furniture products, take-it-home-and-try-it promotions are widely used. And for online services, it is common to see free 30-day trials.
While the idea of getting people to try something before they buy it is far from being new, so-called experiential marketing methods, designed to immerse potential customers in a product prior to making a commitment, have grown rapidly. Unlike old-style product giveaways, experiential marketing is as much about the environment and the interaction as it is about the products being sampled. One of the most common experiential marketing approaches is to attract a large number of people to a specific location, where products are then consumed as part of a social event. To do this, brands may engage an experiential marketing specialist to coordinate the event. For instance, a company like House Party, offers marketers the ability to have their products be the centerpiece of hundreds of parties, often held on the same day.
Other examples of how companies are deploying experiential marketing are discussed in this Shopper Marketing Magazine story. One example looks at how Target’s after-hours shopping spree, aimed a college students heading back to school, not only helps the retailer but also is used to promote major product suppliers including Coca-Cola. Other examples include Meow Mix cat food, which placed a special mobile recording studio in New York City, where hundreds of people recorded their own version of the now classic “meow mix” jingle, and Chobani yogurt, which promoted its new breakfast product outside train and bus stations, and even offered people a bike ride to work while they sampled the product.