People power: How do you get the best out of your staff for your experiential marketing campaign?

When it comes to sales and marketing, as far as consumers are concerned, the people representing your brand are your brand. In experiential marketing, one misjudged moment can easily undo years of hard-won brand equity.

Experiential marketing is about associating your brand with a positive and engaging experience in real-time. It’s about authenticity, visibility and trust. In other words, the human element is crucial to its success. If your staff aren’t adequately trained to establish relationships with customers and interact in a creative, confident and memorable way, your marketing efforts are almost guaranteed to end up being counter-productive.

So how do you get the best out of your staff for your experiential campaign? How do you ensure your training is rigorous and effective? Here’s everything you need to think about…

Product training

It might seem obvious but do your staff know everything there is to know about your product? When it comes to product training, it pays not to take anything for granted. If it seems simple, it’s deceptive. Your staff need to be confident and authoritative when delivering demonstrations, dishing out product information and answering questions. In short, they need to know as much about it as you do.

A study by SMITH found that consumers experience up to eight different ‘emotional drivers’ that influence their buying decisions. Top of the list was ‘needs validation’, with 20% of shoppers feeling they needed help in deciding. A confident voice and in-depth product knowledge could be the clincher.

Think about things like product differentiators. If you’re sampling peanut butter, do your staff know what makes this peanut butter different from the others? What are the ingredients? What are the key characteristics of the product you want them to focus on?

If it’s a technical demonstration for a product, are they adept at handling it? In an infamous Microsoft presentation, the speaker (and Microsoft employee) was forced to install Google Chrome mid presentation as the Edge browser kept crashing.

There’s nothing worse than watching someone fumbling around trying to make something work; it’s painful to watch and it instantly devalues your product. Creating an online video tutorial is an effective way to train staff on product information and handling. You can layer it and make it more fun and interactive by using things like gamification or quizzes to test their knowledge.

In addition to hands-on training, think about letting them take the product home so they can use it repeatedly before they demonstrate to the public. The more comfortable and familiar they are with the product, the more engaging they’ll be when they have an audience. If they can share their own experiences with customers too, it makes the whole experience more authentic

Brand training

In order to get the best ROI from your campaign, you should view your staff as brand ambassadors. They are the face and voice of your company so while they’re working they need to live and breathe it. From a knowledge of brand history to core values and the tone you want to employ, taking time and effort to make sure they know it all will pay dividends.

One company that’s invested heavily in brand training for staff is innocent; they even have a name for it: ‘innocentification’. Playful, informal and quirky, the brand’s signature tone is key to its success so it makes perfect sense that all staff are trained up on it.

Speaking about their brand training, Tom Fraine at innocent said: ‘The training is not costly. It’s a week-long session about our company and our brand tone of voice, and everybody attends in the first few months of joining’. The result: one of the clearest and cleanest brand positions of the last decade.

For training to be effective, you need to first clearly define what your brand language is, how you communicate with customers and who those customers are. What differentiates you from other businesses? What tone do your customers expect? Once you’ve established the details, you can communicate them to your staff – but make sure there are no mixed messages. Are you fun and youthful or sophisticated and luxury? Are you Virgin or British Airways?

If your internal brand identity and language is in conflict with the external image, it won’t work. Showing is always more effective than telling, so think about how you communicate across the board, both internally and externally. By keeping the brand language and personality consistent and authentic, your staff are much more likely to believe in it and absorb it.

Try using role play as a learning tool for brand training; it’s fun, engaging and an effective way to find out what they know about your brand.

Good things come to those who wait

Understanding that proper staff training is an investment for your brand is vital. While campaigns may be short-lived, the people representing your brand need to seem the same as full time employees – and training them properly means you can hire them again in the future.

You can’t expect someone to turn up from an agency and be fluent in your brand identity or clued up on your product within a couple of days. It takes time and dedication; think of it as a work in progress. So how can you monitor that progress?

Of course, there’s the overall success of the campaign, but you can also use soft metrics to gauge how engaged people are – and the best way to do this is by just observing and asking.

Are customers interacting with staff? Are they getting actively involved with the event? Instead of using a survey, ask your brand ambassadors to have an informal chat with consumers and ask them how much they’re enjoying the event. Where are the gaps? If engagement could be better, think about what you need to change or add in terms of training.

Softly softly

Experiential marketing isn’t about the hard sell, it’s about relationships, specifically the consumer’s relationship with your brand. Instead of pushing the product, the focus needs to be on making people feel valued and engaged.

In order to get this right, your staff need to be excellent communicators. They need to be able to talk to people in an authentic, warm way without being overbearing. And great communication starts with listening. It’s essential that staff learn the importance of asking open questions to consumers, to find out about their background and relating the answers back to the features and benefits of the products. Again, role play is an effective way to practise this.

Experiential marketing staff training

Demonstrate the difference between being invasive and pushy and being personable and people-focused. How does it make them feel if someone accosts them and launches into product selling? How does it make them feel when someone approaches them in a genuine way and asks them a question?

By empathising with the customer, your staff will gain a better understanding of how to communicate effectively with people. You could also encourage them to do some reading around the psychology of sales and marketing.

Experience

If your brand ambassadors are happy and having fun, chances are your customers will, too. Being is always more powerful than pretending, so try to make the entire experience as positive as possible for them.

Making training fun and interactive will not only keep your staff happy, it also makes it more likely that the training will be effective. Digital is fine, but face-to-face is better – after all, that’s what the training is all about – so keep your training programme as personal as possible.

Structuring your training days with role play, games, quizzes and treasure hunts will motivate, inspire and promote a spirit of teamwork and positivity. And throw in some perks to make staff feel valued; free lunches, snacks and drinks will boost both energy levels and morale.

Freedom

Allowing your brand ambassadors to bring their own style and personality to the table is how you create an authentic experience. They’re not actors putting on a show, so they need to be able to be themselves.

Once you’ve given them the training, don’t micro-manage. Instead, give them the freedom and trust to put their own stamp on the campaign. Encourage them to think creatively and independently around the core principles of the event by asking for their opinions and ideas. The result will be a more engaging, immersive experience for customers and a sense of pride and ownership for your staff.

Incentives

Incentives can have a big impact on motivation and engagement. A 2015 study found that 85% of workers felt more motivated to do their best when an incentive was offered and 73% said the atmosphere was ‘good’ or ‘very good’ during incentivised periods. So what types of incentives work best?

While employees may say they want cash, a study by the University of Chicago found that non-monetary incentives are much more effective. The research showed that compared with cash incentives, non-cash rewards led to employee performance tripling. Why?

They already get cash anyway for doing their work; tangible gifts have a symbolic value (a bit like a trophy) which means we develop an emotional connection to them; and being given something special makes us feel valued and recognised in a way that money can’t.

The best incentives are personalised. Think about what your staff would appreciate and make that the incentive – or give them a choice. It could be anything from a massage or afternoon tea to a book voucher. Making it personal shows you’ve taken the time to think about what they would like, ultimately making the incentive more motivating.

Feedback

At the heart of any good working relationship is honest two-way communication. You need to let your brand ambassadors know how they’re performing and which areas need improvement. It’s also important to recognise and acknowledge staff who’ve worked especially hard; could you nominate them for an award or give them extra responsibilities?

As well as giving feedback you should also be willing to receive it by giving your brand ambassadors the chance to voice their thoughts. What do they think of the training? Which methods of learning do they prefer? How do they think people responded to the campaign?

Feedback is an invaluable part of getting the best out of your staff and marketing campaign. If you regularly check how people feel and what they need to make improvements, you can make positive changes. Allowing staff to give you feedback also builds trust by showing that you value their opinions.

In order to get the most from your feedback, keep it structured, regular and encourage total honesty.

 

There’s nothing mystical or complex about getting the best out of your staff. Taking the time to develop and implement detailed training will transform them into brand ambassadors. Rewarding them will make them feel valued, and listening to their feedback will help you make the whole process more effective. One thing’s for sure: if you want to get the best ROI from experiential marketing, the best investment you can make is in the people you hire.

Fizz experiential marketing guide download

Field and experiential marketing glossary of terms

Sometimes – only sometimes – we feel misunderstood.

Not in a “mum and dad just don’t get me” kind of way, but in a “what do you actually do?” kind of way.

We’ve found that people associate experiential marketing with demonstrations, and don’t always think beyond that. The problem, really, is that there’s no consensus around terminology. One person’s experiential is another’s field and yet another person’s in-store. Without that clarity it’s hard to apply the marketing strategy people know and understand to the specific work that we do.

So: we’ve decided to explain ourselves and provide a glossary of the terms that define our work. Here we go.

Activation

The stage of a marketing strategy in which marketing activities actually take place; comes after the planning and before the evaluation.

AI (Artificial Intelligence)

A computer program that analyses massive amounts of data, predicts trends, and makes automated responses based on those trends and additional rules that are programmed in. Often used for data analysis and automated customer service functions.

Brand ambassador

A person who’s hired by a business to represent them in a positive light. By doing so, the ambassador makes people more aware of the brand, builds up a good reputation, and encourages more sales. A brand ambassador is meant to embody the business’ identity in appearance, demeanour, values and ethics; they’re the public face of the business.

Call To Action (CTA)

Something that asks customers, visitors or readers to do something specific, in return for something that’s useful or valuable to them. “Sign up for more information” at the bottom of a feedback form or post-event message is a classic; so’s “take this card and get a 20% discount”.

Coverage

A percentage statistic. Divide the number of days a marketing experience successfully activated by the number of days originally planned and you find your coverage. Important for assessing disruption to your campaign, and identifying locations or factors where the experience didn’t work as planned.

Challenger brand

A brand that isn’t the category, sector or industry leader, but has the potential (and the intent) to go there. Typically used to describe new entrants into the marketplace, especially after some initial success.

Demonstration

A live showing-off of a product in use, which presents its key features and benefits to visitors and audiences.

E-commerce

Commercial transactions conducted on the Internet, often through a specially designed website or app (an e-commerce portal).

Footfall

A measure of the number of people entering a place over a given period of time. Comparing footfall for a retail space, specific shop and specific location within a shop helps you evaluate how well your experience performed – how many people could it have reached, and how many did it actually reach?

Gamification

Using elements of gameplay activities – scoring points, competing with others, gaining levels – to encourage participation in a marketing experience, and engagement with a product or service. Often the key to making an experience memorable and shareable. Coined by game developer turned interface designer Nick Pelling.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Legislation introduced in May 2018, which sets guidelines for the collection and processing of a European citizen’s personal information. GDPR is citizen-first (meaning that US and, after Brexit, UK companies will still have to comply), and the British government has adopted GDPR as the template for its own Data Protection Act.

Gift With Purchase (GWP)

An incentive offered during the marketing experience, encouraging visitors to make a purchase. A free gift, a discount applying now or in the future, a limited edition or personalised product.

Guerilla marketing

The use of unconventional, unpredictable and unexpected tactics in order to promote a product or service. Tasting sessions for cheese are not guerilla marketing; an art exhibition of cheese sculptures is.

Hashtag

A word or phrase preceded by a hash sign – #. Used on social media websites and apps, to identify and filter messages to do with particular topics. This, for instance, is a #glossary about #experientialmarketing.

Incremental sales

The amount of additional sales which can be directly attributed to a given marketing activity.

In-store

If an activity takes place within a shop, it’s in-store. Distinct from activities that take place in food courts, public spaces, market halls and so on, which are on-street.

Merchandising

The act of promoting retail sales via the physical presentation of products in-store, or by selling physical goods that promote a product or service by association.

Millennials

A generic term for consumers who reached adulthood in the early period of the twenty-first century. The current generation of 18-30s. They like hands-on experiences, sharing things on social media, and brands with the courage of their claimed ethical convictions.

Money Off Voucher (MOV)

Exactly what it says on the tin – a token exchangeable for a discount on a product at the point of purchase. Often offered as an incentive for participating in an experiential marketing activity.

Mystery shop

A monitoring and quality control technique. Observers pose as consumers to measure the quality of products, services or experiences as provided in a particular location, without staff being aware they’re under observation and behaving unusually.

On-Street

If an activity takes place outside a retail establishment, and it’s not part of an organised, recognised retail event, it’s on-street.

Pop-Up

An environment that’s opened temporarily to take advantage of a trend, a seasonal product, or a short-term lease on a retail space. Typically short-lived, but exclusive, and popular with millennials.

POS (Point of Sale)

Put simply, the time and place where a transaction is made in retail.

Qualitative data

Something you can observe but not measure – for example, the reason why a given customer enjoyed a marketing experience.

Quantitative data

Something you can measure and express in ‘hard’ numerical terms – for example, the number of customers who said they enjoyed a marketing experience.

Reach (campaign)

The number of people who make some sort of contact with your marketing message, either by visiting the experience in person or hearing about it via social media, word of mouth or publicity efforts.

Sampling

Providing a small amount of product for free so consumers can try before they buy. What most people think experiential marketing is all about.

Segmentation

A selection of people in your target audience who share one or more similar characteristics – age, gender, ethnicity, occupation, typical shopping spend, home ownership, pet ownership, opinion of hard cheese…

Uplift

A percentage measurement showing the increase of sales as a result of marketing activity. The positive kind of incremental sales.

Word Of Mouth (WOM)

When a consumer communicates their interest in a brand, product or service to another without using social media or wearing promotional merchandise.

 

And there we have it – but did we miss anything? If there’s a term we use that always foxes you, or one for which you’d like the Fizz definition – ask away!

Fizz experiential marketing guide download

Managing the spaces in-between: What can and can’t be done with in-store campaigns?

White space, in the world of design and art, is negative space. Space left unfilled. It’s not blank – instead, it’s the canvas for objects of focus to exist and be perceived.

The successful use of white space is what separates cluttered visual environments from elegant, classy and accessible ones – and managing white space is vital for in-store marketing campaigns too.

Think about it. Market halls, shopping centres, supermarkets, high streets; they’re visually busy places, where every brand hangs their hoarding and demands attention. White space is already at a premium in these places, and an in-store campaign has to occupy that limited space and make itself visible without adding to the clutter.

That’s why in-store marketing experiences have to fit in and stand out. In-store experiential marketing must integrate the physical space it’s in, the daily operations of the business, the people around it and the brand being represented.

If you want to make the most of the white space, you need to think practically. Here’s how.

1. What does good in-store activity look like?

Your in-store experience has to look planned, organised, and efficient. An ill-considered campaign will stand out for all the wrong reasons.

The campaign as a whole needs direction: that means clear KPIs and targets, and briefing your people well on what they’re trying to achieve for the brand. Messaging needs to be clear, so visitors know what you’re doing there, and the demonstrators and their kit need to be smart, visible and on-brand. If there are Health and Safety regulations in play, compliance needs to be followed, appropriate notices need to be displayed, and safety gear needs to be present and correct. Walk the walk, talk the talk, and make it clear that you have a plan.

2. What are the key logistical considerations?

Step two: ensuring that things run smoothly. The less disruptive your in-store experience is to the store, and the less disrupted the experience itself is by its logistical needs, the better.

Set up in an area with good foot-flow, rather than blocking customers’ movement around the store. Ensure you’ve been signed off by the retailer’s head office, but also the store management; they’re the people whose day to day operations are disrupted by your in-store experience being there. There will be a risk assessment procedure – comply with it fully. And finally, make sure there’s a plentiful and timely supply of kit, stock and staff, and that you have time to bring them all together.

3. Delivery without disruption

The key to delivering the experience on the day? Communication. Excellent communication.

You need to ensure the space for the stand is available for as many activation days as possible, and that stocks of the product are close to the demonstration, which means communicating with the retailer. Field staff need a clear and consistent point of contact with the agency: this will improve the effectiveness of briefings and face to face training, and allow for efficient reporting on the experience itself. On the day, the team needs to be updated on any changes – whether the kit’s in a different place; whether there’s a new target; if anything has been realigned. That means a daily brief and debrief.

4. In-store campaign must-haves

Firstly: a strong Point Of Sale (POS) presence. The in-store experience is there to promote purchases, so make the product visible at or near the place where money changes hands.

Stimulate those purchases with a strong call to action that offers something valuable – money off a new product or a free gift if you purchase today – and you’ll be able to trace the direct impact of your experience and incentives. Keep the message simple – emphasise two or three selling points and have your staff briefed on them – but be flexible, and make sure your team can answer the questions visitors ask.

5. In-store campaign no-nos

The first and most obvious thing to not do? Break the law. Or the rules. Whether it’s the agreement you’ve made with the retailer or compliance with health and safety legislation, ground rules need to be taken seriously. To make sure they are, agree and discuss everything you can think of: the overall plan and as many of the details as you can manage. There should be no major surprises on activation day.

The second thing: underbriefing. In-store marketing must be consistently branded. Marketing can afford to go off script, but it has to stay on message.

Finally: understaffing. This can mean a shortage of numbers, but there are other ways in which failure to properly staff your in-store marketing experience can let you down. Untrained and unqualified staff who don’t know the product, the selling points and the brief; poor staff conduct that creates friction between the brand, the store, the customers and you; and inexperienced staff who are left without a senior hand on the tiller. This is a hard balance to strike – people have to gain their experience somehow – but the first timers should never be left alone.

6. Being realistic with space

In-store experiences need a safe and comfortable working environment for demonstrations to take place, and enough space for customers and staff to move around the aisles and reach stock.

Relevant stock – the product on display and maybe others from the same brand – needs to be on sale close to the demo, and visible at other points of sale.

Finally, the stand needs to (forgive us for this one) stand out. Putting it in the most visually busy area of the store is seldom a good idea – there needs to be enough negative space around the in-store marketing presence for visitors to register its presence.

7. Key questions for retailers and brands

Your first port of call should be the agency’s previous work history. In particular, you’re looking for evidence of results; how their efforts have paid off in real, measurable, return-on-investment terms, and testimonials from other retailers indicating the indirect impact.

The presentation of the agency’s people and process counts for a lot too. The communication skills you meet at the first contact, and the appearance and confidence of the agency’s own people, should reflect how they communicate, dress and present themselves in-store.

Other specific things to ask for include the agency’s recruitment, training and quality assurance process. How does the agency source teams for in-store experiences? If the answer isn’t “face to face interviews” then look elsewhere.

Breadth of coverage is another key factor: does the agency only work locally or do they have the expertise and confidence to deliver nationwide campaigns? What field support do they offer on activation days – and do they carry out other support work like POS production and design?

 

When planning an in-store campaign, selecting an agency partner and delivering the experience on activation day, the most important thing is to be realistic. A good agency won’t agree to things they know aren’t possible – if they say no, it’s time to reappraise your plans.

The other most important thing is to look for learning opportunities. Nothing is perfect – so at every stage of the process, the best in-store marketers ask how they can do better next time and give honest feedback to everyone involved.

Check out the in-store marketing campaigns we’ve helped brands build – and how they’ve paid off.

Fizz experiential marketing guide download

Fizz nominated for three FMBE Awards!

By Dave Curtis. 24th September 2018
Fizz nominated for three FMBE Awards!

Here at Fizz, we’re proud to announce that we’ve been nominated for not one, not two, but three awards in this year’s FMBE Awards.

The Field Marketing and Brand Experience Awards celebrate the very best in live marketing experiences, with winners in the 29 categories for 2018 to be announced at a glittering awards ceremony at beautiful Art Deco venue Troxy in London on October 11th.

This year, we’ve has been shortlisted in three awards categories: Most Effective Retail Sales Experience/Sales Event, Team of the Year (Demo/Sampling/Retail Training/Experiential), and BA of the Year (Demonstrators, Shopper and Experiential) – the first for our work with Ferrero Rocher and Raffaello, the other two for our ongoing work with Costco.

Our pre-Christmas in-store sampling activation incorporated Ferrero’s “Make Christmas Taste Better” concept, and the combination of a visually striking sampling area, thoroughly briefed brand ambassadors, careful coordination, promotional pricing and, of course, free samples across 28 Costco stores led to significant uplifts in both unit sales and sales revenue during the campaign.

Our Team of the Year shortlisting goes to our Warehouse Demo Services (WDS) team for their 25 years of work in partnership with Costco Wholesale. The 850-strong team sample and demonstrate a variety of both own-brand and branded products, including global names like P&G, Diageo and Krispy Kreme. Excluding Christmas and New Year, the WDS team conducts sampling events seven days a week, 52 weeks a year – with these activations creating an average sales uplift of 398%.

Our final shortlisted category is Brand Ambassador of the Year, where Fizz is represented by Patrice Belton, working as part of the Leicester team on the WDS Costco contract. Part of a 25-strong team, Patrice has turned her hand to a huge variety of products since she joined in 2015. She embodies the role of Brand Ambassador with her team spirit, fantastic customer focus, and her sales uplift figures, which have exceeded 2,000% on seven separate occasions.

Andy Youings, Marketing Manager at Fizz Experience says: “The FMBE Awards are revered in the field marketing industry, and we’re thrilled that Fizz has been recognised in no fewer than three different categories. We’re all about creating unforgettable customer experiences, and with over three decades, over a million individual consumer experiences and a breadth of client categories under our belts, we’re excited to see what the awards ceremony in October brings.”

To find out more about how we’ve helped our clients to wow their customers with in-store campaigns, click here.

Fizz experiential marketing guide download

Millennials are the world’s most powerful consumers: Now, what do they want?

The world’s two billion millennials have come of age.

They are no longer merely the largest demographic in the world – they are also the largest consumer group. Morgan Stanley refers to them as “the most important age range for economic activity.” Brands can’t afford to ignore them.

But who are “millennials” exactly? What do they value? And what experiential and in-store marketing strategies can brands employ to appeal to this vast consumer group?

Who are millennials?

Broadly speaking, most research centres and think tanks see millennials as anyone born between 1981 and 1996. Not that it’s quite that simple. The Wall Street Journal, for instance, have them pegged between 1980 and 2000. President of the Pew Research Center, Michael Dimock, rightly said, “cutoff points aren’t an exact science.” But precise dates are not the only bone of contention when it comes to defining the generation.

As a demographic, they’re an extremely broad subset, to the point that many have questioned the validity of the term entirely. Depending on your definition, the oldest millennials could be pushing 40, while the youngest are still in their teens. So much changed in this period, from socio-economics to technology, that the age gap between top and bottom seems even wider.

Without doubt, it’s a problematic phrase. No marketer worth their salt would look at someone in their early 20s through the same lens as someone in their mid-30s – such vague boundaries don’t make for effective segmentation and personalisation. That hasn’t stopped people using the term – far from it. The press, in particular, has become addicted to the term – where it seems to have morphed into a catch-all phrase meaning, basically, ‘young people’. And more often than not, the term has snidey, negative connotations – they’re blamed for the death of everything from napkins to sex (and much more besides).

Despite the obvious flaws, however, ‘millennial’ is a helpful term to consider a generation of people, not bound by the usual demographic detail, but more by a set of beliefs and life experience. They’ve grown up surrounded by technology, for example. They’re internet savvy, entrepreneurial; they care about environmentalism. They’ve been hugely impacted by the boom and bust of global finance. They’re renting, not buying; they’re lumbered with debt. They’re settling down at an older age, having fewer children.

These trends are, to reiterate, broad strokes. Where we think the term comes in more useful is thinking about the millennial mindset – a group of consumers that are increasingly experiencing similar socio-economic conditions. The wealth gap between the rich and poor widening, the middle class shrinking, wages stagnating, volatile politics, rising awareness, and concern with social issues – this all feeds into a new mindset that transcends age and into something bigger.

Millennials and the retail experience

So, what about the retail sector? The death of the high street has been widely reported, and while it’s true that many large retailers have run into problems – not least House of Fraser, BHS, and M&S – in some ways this feeds into the dwindling middle ground that’s become a feature of modern society. All those brands – and you can add to that Toys ‘R’ Us, Mothercare, Maplin and plenty of others – sit firmly in the centre.

In March 2018, Deloitte pointed to this disparity in what they called ‘The great retail bifurcation’. Their 12-month study revealed a renaissance in retail, not the apocalypse many have suggested. And while the report is US-focused, it’s difficult to argue that the trends are much different from the rest of the Western world.

The facts are stark.

Brands at the lower end of the spectrum compete on price – it’s where your Walmarts, Targets, Lidls and Asdas sit – all of whom are raking in profit. At the higher end are the brands which play on luxury. In food suppliers, that could be someone like Fortnum and Mason who recorded a fifth consecutive year of double-digit growth in 2017. Despite the disparity in cost, brands at both ends are embracing similar consumer trends. Provenance and environmental credentials are two.

Lidl’s environmental policy says: “We believe that the efficiency and leanness of the discounter model naturally helps to drive sustainability, bringing greater control to our consolidated supply chains and driving the efficient use of resource”.

Kering – the international luxury group that owns Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga and Alexander McQueen (among others) states that “we will CARE about our impact on the planet, on climate change, on natural resources; COLLABORATE for the good of our employees, suppliers, clients; CREATE pioneering ideas to safeguard our rich heritage, and empower future generations”.

Environmentally friendly retail

The two brands, despite obvious differences, are difficult to tell apart when it comes to environmentalism. Why? Well, ‘millennials’ believe that global warming is the world’s biggest problem, they say sustainability is a shopping priority, and they buy products they believe are eco-friendly.

Simply, the demands of consumers are being met by brands. And don’t forget, millennials aren’t merely the largest consumer group, they’re also taking over the workforce, too. Brands focus on sustainability not just as a result of external pressures, but internal ones, too.

One caveat about environmental thinking: belief is one thing; behaviour is another. Yossi Sheffi, the Director of MIT’s Center for Transportation and Logistics and author of Balancing Green: When to Embrace Sustainability in a Business (and When Not To), found that while people say they want brands with sustainable chops, we don’t tend to put our money where our mouths are. Sheffi writes: “Although a number of surveys show that most consumers say they want sustainable products, sales data show that only a small percentage are actually willing to pay more to buy sustainable products.”

However, attitudes are changing. And the millennial mindset is the catalyst. Baby boomers, for instance, are investing far more heavily in Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investments, more people of all ages are volunteering than ever, brands, as we’ve seen, are placing sustainability at their hearts.

Beyond environmentalism

Perhaps one of the most interesting millennial trends is that of the local, artisan, craft and independent stores. The high street has diverged, and out of that has sprung, according to The Telegraph, a group of thriving independent retailers.

So how are these brands making a go of it in such a tough climate? Personalised experiences are one area the article highlights, and certainly something large brands have similarly focused on with their marketing efforts.

Accenture surveyed 6,000 consumers, 1,707 of whom were millennials. Their studies showed that new consumers want a cohesive brand experience between online and offline. Contrary to popular belief, this didn’t mean eschewing brick-and-mortar stores entirely, more that the experience had to be complementary. One respondent claims that “[Y]ou want to see it; you want to touch it; you want to smell it; you want to pick it up”.

RetailMeNot CMO Marissa Tarleton agrees, and recommends that retailers capitalise on their stores as a “benefit,” incorporating personalised experiences. She adds that brands need to ramp up their mobile marketing efforts “quickly”.

The second element of success The Telegraph pointed to was community engagement. These independent stores have been particularly proactive in their local areas, and big brands, too, have been similarly proactive, albeit harnessing a much wider community. From Coca-Cola’s public policy on engagement to XBox Ambassadors to Sephora’s Beauty Insider Community, brands are latching on to the power of the group.

The final, and most interesting, point (for us at least), is in-store spectacles. Emma Woodward, quoted in The Telegraph piece, is the co-founder of Aspire Style. The first store opened in Warwick over 10 years ago, and the brand now has shops in Oxford, Solihull, Stratford and Coventry. How are her stores thriving? “Providing an element of entertainment and in-store theatre is key”, she says. “We have daytime events that include free refreshments, games and prizes and link to specific things, such as the Royal Wedding”. The store also puts on regular after-hours events, such as fashion shows and live music.

Brands and retailers are increasingly breaking out of the mould of being a transactional space. Experiential marketing is nothing new, of course, but it’s one effective way to break out of the middle ground for top end retailers, independents, lower end stores, and everywhere in between.

How can you bring experiential marketing to millennials?

You can read our 10 key principles for experiential marketing the right way in full, but it’s worth pulling out some of the key points here as they are specifically designed with this savvy consumer in mind.  

  1. Customer first

You might like the experience you have in mind – but does your customer? A firm grasp of the end user – the retailers and consumers – is essential.

  1. Ideas over technology

Tech is a tool, nothing more. VR, AR, AI, apps and games – they can all be engaging, but not without a creative concept or idea. Wow them with ideas, not with gadgets.

  1. Engagement is everything

Is your marketing passive or active? Experiential marketing has to be active. You’re not just giving out product or information for the customer to receive. You’re inviting the consumer into your branded world for a part of their day.

  1. Aftercare isn’t an afterthought

Experiential campaigns lead to an uplift in immediate sales results. But they offer the opportunity to create something longer-lasting. ROI isn’t simply what happens on the day. Experiences can stay with people, building brand equity in the long term.

  1. Smiles are currency

Do you delight? Does the visitor come away from the experience beaming? They need to. Smiles are a powerful trigger: the physical movement of the face triggers a psychological reaction, and the customer feels happier, lighter, and more engaged with the day.

  1. Think about impact first: the reach will follow.

Word of mouth referrals are the best form of advertising. 84% of consumers trust recommendations from influencers, friends, family members and peer networks – so make something that people want to recommend.

Brands need to break out the mould of labelling millennials and start thinking about a new consumer with a new way of looking at the world. This purported age group are not that different to everyone else, but in many ways they represent the state of things to come. For consumers, sustainability, provenance, authenticity, community, a sense of fun and experiences that cut through the incessant chatter of the modern digital world are the things that stick in the mind.

The way to break through is with creative thought, impeccable execution and empathy with the people you want to engage.

 

To find out how we helped other brands cut through, check out some of our case studies here.

Fizz experiential marketing guide download