Technology will be a game-changer for brands looking at experiential marketing: Niki Singh

Brands are innovating and broadening their horizon to weave a digital and virtual experience into their experiential marketing plans writes Niki Singh, Vice President (Strategy) of GenY Medium.


The pandemic has changed the way we do things globally, and marketing is no different. The experiential marketing industry took a big hit with many brands diverting their budgets from experiential to digital marketing. Let me address the elephant in the room – would it stay down forever?

The core of experiential marketing is to allow people to feel experiences and enable interactions. This is also a basic human need. This is why we get an adrenaline rush when we physically attend sporting events in a large arena, even though the visibility of players and the action is much better in front of a TV set. There is a reason we love to attend events with other people in the audience, there’s a sense of a collective consciousness that works for us right across centuries of the entertainment industry – the Roman colosseum, for instance.

The pandemic forced the brands to reimagine how experiential marketing is done and now brands are innovating and broadening their horizon to weave a digital and virtual experience into their experiential marketing plans.

The pandemic is forcing people to rethink even large businesses, so why should experiences be left behind. The entire experiential marketing industry thrives on engaging the senses, so admittedly it is not going to be easy to project all the elements of the sensorial mix via a digital medium. Brands will have to innovate. Period.

With the fear of attending events in large numbers where close proximity may be a possibility, the audience may stay away from such encounters. Brands will have to make people feel that their safety is of prime importance and all transactions will be contactless viz. touchless registration, digital invites, in-app information brochures, and of course, Augmented Reality (AR).

Sampling is another key aspect brands will need to look into. Personal sampling interactions are impacted, as are in-market brand activations. They will have to be evolved to include touchless delivery mechanisms.

Brands are investing in virtual events and also roping in influencers as part of their experiential marketing activities. One of the biggest sporting properties – IPL, has churned out a lot of innovations for viewers to consume. Shifting it to a location 1600 miles away in the UAE, simulating in-stadium noise with canned spectator sounds, virtual spectator boxes add to the experience.

We have seen a flurry of virtual conferences complete with waiting rooms, moderated group break-outs and games along with use of holographic images to keep the conference interesting. We have also seen many brand launches happening during the pandemic with interesting use of augmented and virtual reality. A lot of content innovation has also happened with the increased use of motion graphics and Chroma shoots. These allow the brands to create engaging content. Micro exclusive events also seem to be gaining popularity.

Technology will be a game changer for brands looking at experiential marketing- with contactless ticketing/ registration process, Virtual spaces with AI, digital interactivity, digital games, apps for events and experiences created for on ground as well as online audiences. Gamification and AR is the key to translate boring information into interesting user-friendly experiences. A lot of brands are opting to gamify their existing website or app models e.g. simulating a roller coaster ride at home, or maybe create product demo videos where viewers win gifts by reaching certain levels.

Many brands are already adopting a hybrid model where-in they are organizing on-ground events for a limited audience and making that available for audiences online.

In fact, classic marketing theory suggests it is more profitable to advertise during a slump, as there is less clutter and therefore higher potential to enter the audience consideration set. This translates into higher bang for the same advertising buck. Welcome Experiential Marketing 2.0.

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