GUEST BLOG POST: Why Gen Z Craves Experiential Marketing

Imagine you were given $1,000 right now to spend on something fun. What would you do with it? A tropical vacation laying out on the beach in the Bahamas sounds relaxing. What about finally seeing the Eiffel tower for the first time, or going to that rockstar concert you’ve always dreamed of? If you find yourself gravitating towards wanting to spend it on an experience, you’re not alone. Nearly three years after the COVID-19 pandemic began, there’s been a steady shift in consumers wanting to spend money on experiences over material goods. The group most in tune with this trend? Gen Z. That’s why it’s more important than ever for brands to delve into experiential marketing to capture the attention of the next generation of consumers.

Photo of a concert. (Image sourced from Pexels).

Why It Works

According to Forbes, experiential marketing can be defined as “…creating immersive experiences that allow brands and their consumers to connect on a more authentic and emotional level.” Think of hosting an innovative event related to your brand, or an out-of-the-box novelty that they can’t give up. Lately, everything I hear that involves targeting Gen Z from brands is a focus on digital media. On the surface, it makes sense. One of the most defining characteristics of Gen Z is our digital-savvy nature. But digging a little deeper reveals something different: because we spend so much time online connecting with our followers and friends, Gen Z can see any additional advertisements as noise in an endless void. By investing all of their efforts into digital tactics, brands are ignoring the beauty of basic human connection. 

Taking your marketing tactics offline in a way that involves or captivates consumers can be rewarding and refreshing. As humans, it’s in our nature that we’re emotional and seek connection through experience. When you involve consumers in your brand and your story, they feel connected and spoken to on a more personal level, instead of simply sold to. Gen Z wants to be included in a conversation. Giving us the opportunity too goes a long way for building brand loyalty and driving sales.

It Pays to Pay Attention

Studies have shown that experiential marketing and events were named 38.3 percent of most successful marketing tactics for professionals. Brands like Taco Bell, Dole, and IKEA have all launched experiential marketing campaigns with major pay off. One example that stands out to me as appealing most to the senses of Gen Z comes from Netflix with their project titled “Stranger Things: The Drive-Into Experience.” Taking place in cities across the globe from Los Angeles to London, Netflix brought their hit show Stranger Things from your TV screen to IRL with an immersive drive-in movie experience with live actors. Guests were able to put themselves in some of their favorite moments from the show. Not only was this able to capitalize on the excitement surrounding one of the most popular TV shows in the past six years, but also provide guests with memories that will last a lifetime.

An actor performing at the drive-in experience. (Image sourced from GameRant).

Plan It Perfect

Now with so many moving parts involved in this type of campaign, it’s understandable that it can sound a bit overwhelming. When planning these kinds of experiences, you need to think about your target audience. Figure out what makes them tick, what makes them happy, and how to use that information to create an emotional connection between them and your brand. On the creative side, the easiest place to start is by thinking of your five senses. These create some of the most vivid memories that people are able to resonate with even years down the line. Choosing the right food, music, colors, and so on can be a deal breaker, so knowing what appeals to your audience is key. Consider the following tips for your experiential marketing event:

  • Touch: opt for more comfortable seating where you can that Gen Z can settle into instead of folding lawn chairs.
  • Sight: design your space with Instagrammable decor in mind that Gen Z will want to share on their social media feeds.
  • Hearing: match the soundtrack to the feelings you want to amplify, like jazz for relaxation or pop to get everyone up to dance.
  • Smell: there are a variety of ways you can infuse the room with different aromas, like orange or florals, to uplift the mood.
  • Taste: if you have food, make sure that you offer a wide variety to cater to different dietary needs as Gen Z can be specific.

Sprinkle in your creativity and you’ll be on your way to hosting an amazing campaign.

Get Ready to Dive In

As Maya Angelou once said, people will forget what you said and did, but never forget how you made them feel. Experiential marketing is the future for connecting with Gen Z audiences and is worth adding into your current rotation of tactics. Building a community with your audience goes a long way for fostering long-lasting relationships.

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