As I continue to do more research on Gen Z in an effort to understand this population segment, the word experiential keeps coming up. That Gen Z craves experiences in their lives versus just owning or even consuming products and services. To better understand how entrepreneurs and marketers need to shift their mindset for the Gen Z population, I reached out to Daniel George, Founder of Limitless Creative. It’s a next generation marketing/brand agency focused on providing experiential based marketing services for brands trying to better reach younger Millennials and the Gen Z population. George was recognized by Forbes on their 30 Under 30 – Marketing & Advertising list in 2017. Here are several insights from the interview.
How would you define experiential marketing?
Experiential marketing entails creating immersive experiences that allow brands and their consumers to connect on a more authentic and emotional level. It’s one of the most effective forms of marketing today because it engages consumers, provides memorable experiences, builds brand loyalty and extends a brand’s presence far beyond traditional advertising.
Why is this form of marketing more or less effective than integrated, social media or online marketing?
Too many brands are over-indexing on traditional strategies and are losing sight of the beauty and power of actual human connection. Creating an experience and allowing consumers to partake in something special will always go a long way in building brand loyalty and driving sales. Events and activations allow brands to interact with their consumers on a deeper and more intimate leveland also amplify at the social level.
Another major benefit of experiential marketing is the ability to collect real-time feedback on services or products as well as data and insights about consumers. When it comes to any form of marketing, information is critical, which is why collecting data has become a top priority for many brands. Marketers need to understand their consumers in order to make better decisions, create smarter strategies and effectively know where and how to reach them.
That said, it’s important for brands today to have a 360 degree marketing approach, inclusive of integrated, social, digital, content, performance, advertising, experiential, etc. Brands need to tell a cohesive story cross functionally and through multiple touch points. Holistic marketing and storytelling is by far the largest opportunity in today’s industry to create intimate, evocative experiences that create long-lasting memories and make consumers feel more connected to each other and to the brand.
Is there a particular generation that experiential marketing is targeting?
Nowadays, younger Millennials and Gen Z consumers expect an “experience” from brands. Gen Z and Millennials love events and experiences that they can capture content from and show off on their social media platforms. Gen Z are digital natives – they’ve never known life without computers and cell phones. They live their lives online and because they are bombarded daily with ads and sponsored messaging, they have gotten adept at ignoring digital noise and traditional marketing tactics. Yet, they go out of their way for new experiences and are increasingly opting for experiences over material goods. That is why having an experiential markeitng strategy is key for brands who want to effectively target and engage Gen Z.
“If a brand does not figure how how to provide a product or service experience while engaging Milennials and Gen Z, they will be in trouble. ”
Is experiential marketing a fad or here to stay?
Absolutely here to stay simply due to Millennial and Gen Z target segments. Budgets for experiential marketing are significantly increasing year over year and experiential is becoming the core marketing strategy for many companies.
How do you measure experiential marketing in terms of ROI?
Measuring ROI in experiential is multi-dimensional and it’s important for brands to identify their objectives and determine their definition of success in advance of a given event or activation.
You can drive ROI in a myriad of ways – whether you are a product-based business looking to gain from a monetary standpoint selling product (through pop-up shops or exclusive product releases) or a brand looking to see how many digital impressions you can garner by throwing an event that is socially-driven. Brand awareness, brand affinity, lead generation, social growth, segmentation insights, direct product insights, and more help define the importance of experiential marketing.
With Gen Z in mind, what marketing issues are traditional brands struggling with?
Gen Z is largely misunderstood by brands because they don’t fit into the typical segmenting that brands have traditionally used to inform their marketing and messaging strategies. Brands have struggled around over-indexing on brand marketing from a digital standpoint and misidentifying Gen Z. Realizing that it takes different forms of marketing for this generation is key for brands to understand if they want to effectively engage and attract Gen Z consumers.
At Limitless, we approach everything with a people-first mentality. We aren’t trying to talk at young people and wrestle our way into their culture – we’re trying to understand it, and help them build it, and give the brands we work with a natural foothold into the communities they want to engage with. This only works if you’re viewing them not only as consumers, but as creators, subverters, authenticators of your product, your brand and your message. In that way, honest storytelling has to be your currency and the value of that currency comes from what Gen Z does with that.
Will all marketing agencies eventually have to offer experiential marketing as a service or will only experiential agencies offer these types of marketing services?
Marketing agencies need to adapt to fully understand experiential because strategic brand-centered marketing is anchored around how you make the consumer feel special in a personal way, and experiential allows you to do this at scale with authenticity at heart. It would benefit all marketing agencies to offer this service from a business standpoint, but that said, the landscape is widely competitive, constantly evolving and frankly, only a select few marketing agencies can really do it at a high level.