Retailers are heralding in the new decade with an innovative way to promote brand awareness and customer loyalty: experiential marketing. Brands that put consumer experience at the forefront of their marketing campaigns did well this past Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and they will continue to thrive in 2020 as retail becomes more competitive than ever. Experiential marketing is on the rise for brick and mortar stores, online retailers, and small businesses alike, and it may be the key to surviving the changing retail climate.
This holiday season, American Express teamed up with experiential agency Momentum Worldwide to create The Big Future of Shopping Small pop-up. In an environment where small business owners struggle with rising rent costs and increasingly unrealistic consumer demands, this pop-up aims to help them compete with larger retailers that have the resources to meet demands. American Express found that 77% of 1,000 surveyed adults consider “Small Business Saturday” a holiday tradition, according to Adweek. American Express intends to keep that number up through Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality, blending the tradition of a family-owned storefront and the technology consumers respond to in 2020. The November 2019 pop-up had everything from a donut shop with AI technology to AR wine labels, all using the power of QR codes. QR codes allow multiple businesses to share shelf space, which can be a tool used to combat the burden of rising rent costs.
One industry in particular has seen success with experiential marketing: the beauty industry. Beauty itself is an experience, not just a product, which explains why beauty pop-ups have played a role in marketing beauty products. Consumers can now virtually try products on before purchasing them using Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, and Virtual Reality. Sally Beauty is a brand that has already seen benefits from implementing AI into its marketing strategy. The beauty brand launched an app and in-store kiosks that allow customers to virtually try on hair colors and makeup products. The app includes a feature that adds a product to the customer’s shopping cart after it is tried on, which encourages customers to complete purchases after trying them on.
The beauty industry does not just rely on technology to catch consumers’ attention. Many brands use their young audience’s relationship with social media to gain exposure through Instagram photo opportunities and even vacations. E.l.f. Cosmetics hosts an annual vacation in the Bahamas that connects beauty industry professionals with young professionals interested in learning more about the brand and expanding their network. This exclusive event creates smaller-scale connections with e.l.f.’s consumer base, but on a much deeper level. Events like these, as well as Instagram photo-ops, also create user-generated content, spreading and sustaining brand awareness and creating trust between the business and the consumer.
Consumers like all things digital, and the 35% increase in mobile orders on Black Friday this year proves just how much, but this does not mean brick and mortar retailers and small businesses are ready to close their doors. In order to keep up with increasing consumer demands, brands will have to find a way to provide an experience that rivals the prices and convenience of its competitors. Whether this involves advanced AI and AR technology, an Instagram photo wall, or an interactive pop-up event, the best brands this decade will provide consumers with an experience they will never forget.
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