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2017 was a huge year for experiential. More people attended live marketing shows -- over 2,000 marketers visited the 2017 Experiential Marketing Summit alone -- and brands like Jaguar, MasterCard and Absolut entered the experiential space. 2018 should be even bigger. Here are three data-driven experiential trends you should look out for in 2018.
Augmented reality apps -- the real-time integration of digital information with an app user's environment -- generate millions of dollars for developers, and now marketers are getting in on the action. These apps superimpose images and video onto a real-world environment and allow users to travel to strange new worlds. Take Vietnamese drinks brand Dutch Lady, for example. The company has created an AR app that lets consumers experience an alternate universe through the eyes of its most popular brand characters. The app was a huge success, and Dutch Lady enjoyed a 19 percent sales boost.
Global Industry Analysts, Inc., predicts mobile AR apps will generate $3.9 billion by 2020, and it's not hard to see why. "By taking the interactivity of online marketing and applying it to the real world, AR can blur the lines of what an advertisement is," says New York-based creative digital agency Avex. "Multinational brands can use AR to display their products on any surface or person."
You can use this technology to better engage with your customers in 2018. Offer virtual tours of your company's brick-and-mortar store, provide customers with three-dimensional product views, create fresh live experiences -- AR lets you do all of this and then some.
Pop-up stores let you connect with customers and advertise your products. For many brands, having a brick-and-mortar presence is still a valuable prospect. After all, research shows that 75 percent of shoppers prefer to browse online but make a purchase in a physical store. There are several pop-up store success stories from the last few years. In 2014, for example, Adidas created the D Rose Jump Store in London and hired professional basketball player Derrick Rose to create a once-in-a-lifetime live experience. A pair of free sneakers were up for grabs at the store, but the shoes were positioned on a shelf that was 10 feet high! A video of customers trying to reach the sneakers went viral.
"With so many online retailers competing for attention, sometimes it can be challenging to stand out from the crowd, whether it's getting your site to rank in search engines or generating engagement on social media," says Shopify. "But what better way to create a buzz than by soliciting customers who never would have found your brand had it not been for a pop-up store."
In 2018, event marketing budgets should skyrocket. More big brands, scale-ups and startups are investing in live events so that they can better connect with consumers and network with industry professionals. Most event marketers believe that events are the most effective marketing channel -- more effective than email marketing, content marketing and digital advertising, according to Bizzabo's Event Marketing 2018: Benchmarks and Trends report. Moreover, the average chief marketing officer spends 24 percent of his or her total annual budget on live events.
"With contemporary digital marketing practices, brands have the ability to reach more people with more targeted strategies than ever before," says Bizzabo. "Yet at the same time, nothing can quite compare to a face-to-face conversation."
Expect these three trends to dominate the experiential marketing space in 2018. If you want to connect with more customers and generate sales, invest in AR apps and create live experiences at pop-up stores. You might also want to allocate more of your annual budget to live events -- just like other companies have done.
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