These days, I can’t whiz round the shops in Leeds without maneuvering past a couple of experiential marking events / brand experiences.
The stands/lorries/huts/inflatable domes are often full of shoppers happily enjoying free food/massages/entertainment or whatever but despite the amount of general Sales Promotion / Promotional Marketing / Shopper Marketing I’ve done for brands in the past I’m start to seriously doubt the value of this kind of experiential activity.
Asda tries to bodge together their #BecauseitsChristmas campaign with sampling for their Extra Special premium food range in Leeds last week
The big question about experiential activity (and especially for food and grocery brands) is – is it really worth spending what are often six figure sums on reaching relatively small audiences in an environment a long way away away from the point of decision making / purchase?
I’ve written before about what a massive contribution a proper ‘start with the store’ overall approach can make, what terrible value some well-meaning supermarket sampling campaigns can be and how much the engagement and enthusiasm of city centre experiential teams matters. But even the best trained, brightest experiential team is only going to reach so many of the target audience each day. And I’ve seen an awful lot of sampling and experiential activity that could in no way be described as effective.
the Aero Bubbly promo team busy ticking off ‘chatting among ourselves’ on the promo objectives sheet in Leeds in 2012 (when the camera on my phone was rubbish)
Working to the Old(ish) Rules from the Naughties, reaching small numbers would be fine – we’re creating brand evangelists!, promoting social sharing and thus brand awareness!, building Lovemarks! But lots of customer journey thinking from the last few years points towards the most effective role for marketing being in getting the brand there, being helpful at the point of decision making (like Google’s ZMOT ), not ‘randomly there when you’re shopping for jeans in Leeds’.
Leeds shoppers say a unanimous ‘meh’ to the NPower Snug experiential team in Winter 2014
So it’s a big Yes from me to experiential and/or sampling activity done well at or just before the point of decision making / purchase. But it’s an Are You Sure? Really? to most city centre experiential and sampling activity because however well executed, it seems to me to be happening at the wrong place at the wrong time.