How physical retailers can combat online competitors with experiential retail
Author: Andrew Little
Source: Retail Customer Experience
Consumers today have more shopping options than ever before. With online retail giants such as Amazon continuing to challenge traditional brick and mortar stores, retailers have been forced to change their strategy when looking to attract shoppers. As a solution, retail properties have looked to experiences to captivate shoppers and in turn drive them back into physical retail locations.
With physical retail continuing to adapt to changing times, the most recent trend is on items, services, and experiences that require human presence. This is achieved in many different ways, from increasing restaurants and entertainment locations inside properties, to incorporating fitness studios and gyms among traditional retail. Another way in which malls and mixed-use properties implement this strategy is by incorporating events with their properties, with most offering a regular schedule of entertaining activities.
What is experiential marketing?
Experiential marketing or engagement marketing is a marketing strategy that directly engages consumers, and invites and encourages them to participate in brand experience.
According to Medium, 79% of brands will execute more experiential programs this year compared to last. The increased brand involvement with experiential offerings is a natural fit with the demand from retail properties to add these types of experiences.
Example of experiential marketing
As experts in creating immersive events and environments, we are witnessing this trend firsthand. Working with retail properties who are looking to integrate experiential programs into their overall business model in an effort to battle digital with experiential, has become the new norm, and it will continue to expand in the future.
In addition to in-store experiences, we are also seeing a trend with malls and mixed-use properties looking to outside companies to provide and create unique and engaging experiences that serve as the traffic driver to their properties.
LEGO Systems Inc. and Creatacor partnered to bring the LEGO Americana Roadshow, a 17-day traveling event, to malls and mixed-use properties across the US. The roadshow is an example of infusing experiential marketing with brick and mortar retail to create a mutually beneficial partnership between brand and retail property. This event provides a free, fun and educational LEGO branded experience that captures the interest of visitors of all ages. Properties and retailers thrive during the run of the roadshow, as the event is known to generate holiday-like traffic and sales in traditionally slower sales times of the year.
Capturing experiential retail
Experiential marketing adds value beyond the actual experience. For decades the most powerful marketing tool has been word-of-mouth recommendations from family and friends. Consumers are more likely to purchase a product that has been recommended by a friend or family member. Today, achieving word-of-mouth recommendations is easier than ever thanks to the rise of social media. While attending branded experiences, consumers snap photos, take videos and more, sharing their experiences with their social media friends and followers. These photos and videos are then liked and shared to a wider network of people who may not have seen the content otherwise and as result creates widespread brand awareness organically.
In today’s world, it’s not if you want to market your product on social media, but how and when to most effectively initiate your strategy. Social media provides brands with a broad reaching, targeted and cost-effective way to share their experiences with the public. Sharing content on social media during an experiential marketing event also allows brands to engage directly with consumers, and by providing interesting and exciting branded experiences, gives visitors a natural way to generate content and posts.
While it’s no secret that as the digital age presses on, online shopping will continue to challenge brick-and-mortar sales. What can be expected is that physical stores will continue to evolve and adapt by integrating experiential strategies to separate themselves from the digital world.