Much like museums have eschewed old dusty cabinets in favour of stimulating interactive exhibits, brands are re-energising their experiences in the hopes of transforming visitors into life long advocates. From ‘permanent’ PR stunts to brand homes, here are five ways to give your brand the edge through experience:
- Experience is everything (almost)
It’s no surprise brand experience has upped its game in direct parallel to the rise of social. The millennial’s mantra may well be ‘experience over ownership’, but the marketer’s mantra is most definitely ‘experience dramatically increases the odds of ownership’. Like innovative retailers have survived by switching from a transaction to a value based mindset, brands are using immersive storytelling to give consumers something to talk about. This increasing appetite for experience is reflected in the record 1.9 million Scotch Whisky distillery visits in 2017 and brands such as Johnnie Walker’s impressive investments.
- Master the Main Attraction
Peru has Machu Picchu, New York has Times Square, the Louvre has the Mona Lisa; whether it’s a country, city or gallery, to encourage a pilgrimage you need a show stopper. Just look at Blair Athol. In 2017 they built a whisky bar in an old mash tun (see video at the bottom of the page) and saw visitor numbers rise by 23%. To watch the likes, shares and visitors multiply, make it iconic (Aperol’s Big Spritz Socials embodied the fun, sparkling orange drink), immersive (the San Miguel Experience premiered ‘Birdly’ which uses VR to make you believe your actually flying over New York), and instagrammable (like Bombay Sapphire’s stunning structure).
- Find all Five Senses
For decades retail has embraced the power of all the senses to deepen connections, increase memorability and awaken consumers desires and when it comes to multi-sensory experiences, few do it better than Bompas and Parr. These are the masterminds behind Guinness’ tasting rooms at St James’s Gate where a series of chambers enhance and unravel taste perception. Flavour fountains bring to life aromas and tastes with swirling vapours of beer, malt, roasted barley and hops, while the opulently decorated Velvet Chamber turns its attention to texture. Every element in this immersive experience has been designed to celebrate the beer’s qualities and accentuate its enjoyment.
- Tailor your Tour
At the entry of one of Grayson Perry’s exhibitions stood a pot titled ‘You are Here’. This depicted different gallery attendees alongside speech bubbles showing their reasons for going, ranging from ‘My teacher told me to come’ to ‘I want to have my negative prejudices confirmed’. The lesson being, not everyone will be at your attraction for the same reason. Motivations may range from international brand pilgrimages to escaping a dull, grey day, so be sure to consider the different visitors who walk through your doors. We recently went to the World’s Most Visited Whisky Visitor Experience, Jameson Distillery Bow St, following its €11 million refurbishment. It’s a perfect blend of stimulating visuals and storytelling designed to impress even the most seasoned distillery tourist, with the gift shop offering you the opportunity to personalise your label or, better yet, pour your own bottle of Black Barrel. But most importantly it offers five different experiences from your overarching tour to blending, cocktail making and secret whisky tasting. This not only engages every level of knowledge from brand novice to whisky connoisseurs, it encourages repeat visits – we’ll certainly be returning.
- Align and Assimilate
Physical brand spaces are not only an opportunity to extend brand aesthetic, but an opportunity to extend brand ethos. By tapping into consumers’ mutual interests and passions, emotional connections are deepened and brand alignment, even assimilation, is encouraged. Carlsberg Export’s ‘Probably the Best Pub in the World’ activation is a perfect example of this. It captures their Danish repositioning seamlessly, while appealing to a generation that heroes hand craft to elevate the brand and create compelling content.