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What is Experiential Marketing?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 16, 2024
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As a unique approach to the task of marketing goods and services, experiential marketing is a concept that integrates elements of emotions, logic, and general thought processes to connect with the consumer. The goal of experiential marketing is to establish the connection in such a way that the consumer responds to a product offering based on both emotional and rational response levels. Here are a few of the basics of experiential marketing, and how this process can often succeed when other marketing strategies fail.

Appealing to a variety of senses, experiential marketing seeks to tap into that special place within consumers that has to do with inspiring thoughts about comfort and pleasure, as well as inspiring a sense of practicality. This means that the marketer needs to have a firm grasp on the mindset of the target audience he or she wishes to attract. By understanding what the consumer is likely to think and feel, it is possible to get an idea of how to steer the customer in a direction that will relate with the product, and entice individuals to act on that impulse to purchase.

In order to engage in experiential marketing, it is necessary to engage as many of the senses as possible. Striking displays with powerful visual elements, such as websites, and visual media such as print ads should not only be visually appealing, but also conjure up daydreams of locales and reminders of sensations that are enjoyable to the individual. When used to create customer experiences of this nature, a sense of rapport between the product and the consumer is established that helps to make the good or service more desirable with each encounter.

Because experiential marketing connects with the consumer on multiple levels, the strategy is ideally suited for contemporary sales and marketing campaigns. Shortened attention spans demand that any ad campaign make a quick impression, or the opportunity to engage the consumer will quickly pass. While thirty second ads on radio and television once had a great impact, many people now use modern technology to avoid this sort of marketing approach.

This means that ads on the Internet, in print media, and on modern billboards must immediately catch the attention of prospective clients and hold that attention long enough to make an impact. Experiential marketing holds the key to making this happen. By appealing to all the senses, and making the connection quickly and seamlessly, this approach to the marketing task ensures that businesses can still attract and satisfy the needs and desires of consumers.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum , Writer
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including SmartCapitalMind, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.

Discussion Comments

By anon327217 — On Mar 26, 2013

Experiential (as a niche) got going strong in the "00s" as factions of "rejected" Madison Avenue types drew lines in the sand. Auto shows are experiential marketing and so is just about every episode of "The Apprentice." Advertising is a soft science where everyone fancies themselves the ultimate expert. Ironically, that's when (they) lose.

You have to master all the media - and mind your corner. Keep winning the awards, stay relevant. That's how you win as a madmen. I'm almost 20 years in. I've had feasts and famine (as many of you know), and now I"m feasting again. Save your pennies so you can put me up when I'm skint again? You're lovely.

By anon267265 — On May 09, 2012

@ Lisa Mikkelsen: "The aim of experiential marketing is to make the customer relate, feel, think, engage, reflect... with the product. brand and/or the company."

Aren't those goals the aim of every marketing plan? If they're not, then something is wrong with the marketing plan.

By anon267256 — On May 09, 2012

@ anon158359: I agree completely. I've been involved in sales (retail and b2b) for over 35 years and this new sales technique sounds very similar to what my father was doing over 50 years ago.

No matter what you are selling, tangible or intangible, if you aren't appealing to your customers senses and needs, you'll never close the deal. Finding your customers hot button or what makes them tick, is tantamount to making the sale. If that's not experiential selling, I don't know what is.

By anon240547 — On Jan 14, 2012

Good examples for experiential marketing would be American Girl and Build a Bear.

By Lisa Mikkelsen — On Nov 24, 2011

Your explanation of experiential marketing is missing an important point to differentiate it from other types of marketing.

In experiential marketing the old school marketing paradigm and mind set (”targeting an audience”) is outdated. Experiential marketing should include the ”audience”, which I prefer to call a co-creator of the marketing. The aim of experiential marketing is to make the customer relate, feel, think, engage, reflect… with the product. brand and/or the company.

And that’s the short version (For beginners I would recommend Pine and Gilmore’s ”The Experience Economy” and ”Authenticity”).

By Beermatman — On Mar 14, 2011

Good information and really easy to understand.

Targeting specific audiences for specific products and services is the way to go.

As our minds are, in fact, sequential processors and we're unable to multitask, we need to place the message in front of consumers while they are relaxing.

Adding a 2d barcode to the message creates an immediate call to take some action, or at least to get the potential customer to take a closer look.

As to anon's 65614 request for live examples, it's difficult.

By anon158359 — On Mar 06, 2011

Geez - amazing that experiential marketing sounds just like good old fashioned advertising the way I learned it in the 70's.

When will companies wake up to marketing agencies?

Without a good advertising campaign (and now with social networking they can be rally cost effective) you don't sell product.

Every single marketing plan ever says you need to pinpoint your target market and direct your marketing (read advertising) towards it. Duh!

By anon147052 — On Jan 28, 2011

Here is another angle on this tough question.

By anon144889 — On Jan 21, 2011

Good enough. But i really would have loved a bit more down-to-earth. It's kind of technical. It's certainly not for a layman. - Tunde E.

By anon140933 — On Jan 09, 2011

awesome explanation of experiential marketing.

By anon127680 — On Nov 17, 2010

Good article. it provides proper information.

thank you very much -- Rohit G

By experiential — On May 28, 2010

Nicely covered.

By anon79348 — On Apr 22, 2010

Love this article. It really helps explain the community of experiential marketing. I work with many agencies that are leaning this way and provide shipping and logistical work for them. We know the business!

By attack — On Mar 23, 2010

Well written, Malcolm! You got the great points out there, especially the part about "emotional and rational" response levels. Very true.

Great job! Noel

Attack! (Your Agent on the Inside)

By anon68936 — On Mar 05, 2010

Thanks for the info. I am starting up a company. This field is untapped yet.

By anon65614 — On Feb 15, 2010

Live examples would have been great to connect with this concept in marketing.

By anon49513 — On Oct 21, 2009

just wondering if anyone knows how much a experiential marketer's salary would be?

By anon48541 — On Oct 13, 2009

It should include some practical or real example.

By anon37813 — On Jul 22, 2009

good one...thanks

By nettemackey — On Apr 08, 2009

I enjoyed your article on experiential marketing. I am glad I found this informative resource. Thanks for the add!

Malcolm Tatum

Malcolm Tatum


Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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