THE BLOG

Experiential Marketing; Creative Ideas From Vanity Fair and Frito Lay

03/04/2014 06:26 pm ET | Updated May 03, 2014

Challenge: Customers want to be actively involved in their own brand experiences. To meet this demand companies are developing innovative experiential marketing campaigns utilizing the virtually limitless opportunities of multichannel engagement. These new strategies are giving both existing and new customers a reason to take action.

Though most viewers may have been focused on the dresses and the winners pulled from those closely guarded envelopes, Vanity Fair magazine saw the Oscar Awards as an opportunity to engage its readers through an experiential event known as "the Vanity Fair Social Club." The virtual event was created to allow more than 120 bloggers and online reporters to connect with customers using the specific event hash tag. The magazine plans to use this type of experiential marketing strategy for other major events.

Vanity Fair is on the right track because today's customers want more than traditional push marketing interactions, this according to a new report on Experiential Marketing from CrossMark and MarketingWerks.

• 88 percent of shoppers say that if they enjoy an experiential interaction with a product they'll add it to their shopping list.
• Eighty percent said they prefer brands that "interact" with them over those that just "advertise" to them.

• Seven out of 10 shoppers say they'll share a positive brand experience.

ERDM Voice of Customer (VoC) research has confirmed this finding. Across the last 12 months, there has been a consistent trend that has emerged from thousands of hours of research conducted for major Fortune brands;

• Today, the starting point for marketing campaigns should be to understand how your customers define high value Customer Experiences with your specific brand.

Last year when Frito Lays asked customers to "Do us a flavor" over 3.8 million people said yes in just 12 weeks with entry submissions. The goal of the campaign was to turn around a 6 year decline and connect with younger consumers. The campaign was based on insight that consumers wanted to create, share and get recognized. So a contest was created to demonstrate to customers that their voice indeed mattered. An engagement tool from start to finish, the contest allowed customers to submit new flavors, share them on Facebook, vote on the finalists and then pick the ultimate winner by purchasing samples of the 3 finalist flavors in stores.

Through the Do Us a Flavor campaign the company achieved;

• A 1%+ increase in household penetration

• And, a 2%+ increase among millennials.

5 Takeaways:

Here are 5 strategies that Frito Lay used to keep customers engaged:

1. Understand how your customers want to structure their buying experience and the level of involvement they demand within that experience.

2. Be committed to doing the research necessary to identify engagement "unknowns" that may have been previously overlooked such as media avenues, social interaction, and in-store experiential marketing.

3. Realize that today's multichannel consumer is in more places (often simultaneously) than ever before. Be accessible in cross media avenues.

4. Always look at what you are doing through the eyes of your customer. Let both existing customers and prospects identify with your brand. Make them feel understood.

5. Look at both your current and future audiences in order to connect with the audiences that will continue to support the brand down the road.

Ernan Roman is recognized as a Customer Experience innovator and was inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame for creating three transformational methodologies: Voice of Customer Relationship Research, Integrated Direct Marketing, and Opt-in Marketing. 2010-12-08-ernan.jpg

He was also named by Crain's B to B Magazine as one of the "100 most influential people in Business Marketing".

Ernan is also the author of the widely read blog, "Ernan's Insights on Marketing Best Practices", (www.erdm.com), and author of "Opt-in Marketing" and "Integrated Direct Marketing".

ERDM's Customer Experience strategies achieve consistent double-digit increases in response and revenue for clients, which include IBM, MassMutual, QVC, NBC Universal, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, and Symantec.

As a leader in providing Voice of Customer research-based strategies, ERDM has conducted over 10,000 hours of interviews with customers and prospects of these clients to gain an in-depth understanding of their expectations for high value customer relationships.