In recent years, experiential marketing has become increasingly significant for businesses wanting to make strong, face-to-face connections with customers. 2018 was no exception, with some of the best examples of experiential marketing events taking place last year.

This growth is unlikely to slow in 2019. So, in a marketplace quickly becoming saturated with brand-activation experts, your experiential offer needs to stand out. To help provide inspiration, we’ve tracked down a few of the key trends in experiential marketing for 2019.

What can you learn from the brands defining the experiential market? What strategies are creating experiential marketing campaigns that make lasting impressions on customers and convert them into brand advocates? Which trends in experiential marketing will make waves in 2019 and beyond?

Longer brand activations for more impact

Those suffering from ‘FOMO’ because an amazing experiential event passed them by will be pleased to hear our first key trend.

The future of branded experiences involves a rising interest in longer brand activations, rather than time-limited ‘one offs’. It's not surprising, given longer brand activations will likely reach a bigger audience, giving you more impact for your experiential buck.

Google’s Curiosity Rooms, for example, was a five-week, London-based activation that drew attention to the launch of Google’s new smartphones.

The events did more than simply highlight the creative things you can do with their features. Themed selfie rooms and celebrity events also vied for attention at these popular events.

Longer brand activations are one of the key trends in experiential marketing for 2019

A ‘Dimensionalised’ experience at the Curiosity Rooms. Image: Nunziella Salluce

The rise of the residency

A related experiential trend is the popularity of residencies. These are often smaller brand activations, delivered at host venues, and perhaps multiple locations.

Café La Vanille, for example, took place at Barbour & Parlour in London’s Shoreditch. A week of free workshops and demos celebrated the Expresso Martini and the launch of Grey Goose La Vanille.

Similarly, a collaboration between vodka brand Ketel One and restaurant brand Drake & Morgan created a pop-up bar that brought ‘mindful living’ to the London drinking community.

Take a bite out of food and drink

Many of the experiential events creating a buzz in 2018 revolved around food and drink. They often built in other tried and tested trends along the way, such as pop-ups.

Experiential events offering great food with a side order of fun are proving to be a winning strategy. What’s more, research has shown that taste and smell are closely linked to memory. Food, therefore, can help us to recall memories – and has strong potential to create lasting impressions upon us.

First up then, and drawing some 11,000 hungry punters, was Amazon’s Marvellous Mrs Maisel promotion in New York City. A pop-up 50s-style deli complete with free, doorstopper-style pastrami sandwiches helped to promote the second season of the outlet’s award-winning show. It also gained healthy attention from the press with its generous and delicious campaign.

Google is yet again leading the way in experiential events. This time the search giant drew attention to the donut-shaped Google Home Mini. With the tagline ‘Size of a donut. Power of a superhero’, Google offered a chance to try out the gadget at its pop-up donut shops, and a chance to take one home for yourself.

Create ready-made experiences for social media

The benefits of an experiential marketing event can extend much further than the immediate event experience.

When your customers share your event themselves, they become advocates and act as social proof to their peers. This is much more powerful than traditional marketing.

72 per cent of consumers say that friends’ posts about branded experiences make them more likely to buy from that brand.

How does 2019 come into this? Well, companies are starting to recognise the significance of sharing experiential moments. Online advocacy looks set to be one of this year’s key trends in experiential marketing.

Discover the key trends in experiential marketing for 2019

The Village Studio provides ready-made experiences for social media.

Take Village Studio, an Instagram-ready penthouse apartment in Manhattan that brands, including Unilever and L'Oréal, are flocking to utilise. They use it to host small influencer and media events, launch new products, and create social media content. Some even pay $12,000 a day to host an event.

Tackle customer expectations with tickets

Our last key experiential marketing trend also involves a paid component. Ticketed experiential events provide useful revenue, allowing educational-but-fun brand experiences to pay their way. They also control numbers and expectations. This helps to keep your guests on side when a very successful event goes viral and attracts a huge crowd.

Taco Bell is a surprising but shining example of how to turn customer expectations on their head. Taco Bell partnered with OpenTable, the leading reservation service in America, to create the Taco Bell Test Kitchen. Together they made a fast-food taco joint the hardest reservation to get in America.

How? They turned Taco Bell’s ‘Experimental kitchen’ into a reservations-only restaurant. The event quickly became a must-have reservation, and tickets sold out in 34 seconds.

See how it worked in the video below:

See how Boundless used brand activation to connect with its audience or sign up to our newsletter below for more trends in experiential marketing and other ideas.

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