Dinner in the Sky by unusualdinner.com

Dinner in the Sky by unusualdinner.com

Top Experiential and Interactive Marketing Trends for 2020

Marketing trends are always evolving and the world of experiential marketing is no exception. If you want to create relevant interactive marketing events for your customers, you’ll need to stay two steps ahead of the game. Here are a few of our predictions for the industry in 2020.

Tech-Driven Experiential Marketing

The first and biggest trend we’re seeing for the coming year is technology playing a major role. As the experiential marketing space continues to grow, more and more companies are taking advantage of tech advances to really engage the market. 

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are big pieces of this puzzle. The ability to digitally create whole worlds, or manipulate the real world, is just too much fun to pass up. Not only that, this sort of technology creates an immersive experience unlike any other available today. 

But in addition to attendee-facing technology, there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes tech making marketers’ lives easier and marketing experiences run more smoothly. NextME is an excellent example. The simple concept of the app is to manage waitlists and appointments. This amazingly intuitive app has become a huge help to experiential marketing teams across the country. With one simple interface, you can keep track of your waitlist, manage appointments, notify attendees when it’s their turn, present them with marketing messages or other online content, collect data, and so much more!

Sensory-Driven Booth Design 

“Instagrammable moments” in marketing are on the way out. That’s because they only engage the eyes, and skip over all of the other senses. The next trend we’re seeing pop up is full sensory design. By engaging all five senses, your event marketing will become infinitely more memorable. But how do you accomplish this? 

Sight and sound are easy. We’ve been doing those from day one. But taste? For a food or beverage company, it’s a no-brainer, but for the rest of us, that’s likely not a sense we’ve thought about in connection with our brands. Consider catering your event if it’s upscale, or just offer some tasty snacks and beverages for your visitors on the go. Be sure to have options for specific diets like allergen free, low carb, and vegan. To really do this right you want top-end food that everyone will be able to try and adore.

Smell is partially about what people do smell, but also about what they don’t. A booth too close to overflowing trash cans or the restroom could leave an unpleasant experience in visitors’ minds. And too much strong scent is overwhelming, even if you’d enjoy the fragrance if it were dialed down a bit. 

The last one is touch, and it’s easier to incorporate than you might think. Pay attention to the textures in your booth. Are you going for sleek and smooth or fluffy and cozy? Offer guests soft chairs to sit on, use rich fabrics to cover tables or choose tables with a texture of their own. Natural wood, stone, or even tile table tops can each give a different sensory experience. 

Experiential Art Installations

Mysterious Oreo Storefront - Photo Courtesy of Marketing-Interactive.com

Photo Courtesy of Marketing-Interactive.com

Experiential marketing, at its heart, should be creative. Increasingly, brands are taking this to a whole new level and elevating their marketing with art installations. From the mysterious Oreo storefront last February to the 3D Burgers from Impossible Foods last summer,  this is an attention-grabbing technique that could work for any industry. 

A well-designed art installation should be bigger than life. It should grab the attention of anyone who walks past. And it should be highly memorable with a tie-in to your brand. Successful installations will instantly go viral as people begin to talk about that cool thing they saw on the street or at a convention. 

“Stayable” Experiences

It used to be that grabbing the attention for a moment or two was all we were after. After all, people are busy, right? While that’s certainly still true, many brands are now aiming for a longer experience that will last several hours or even overnight. 

This sort of event is completely sensible for the travel and hospitality industry. After all, “stayable” is what they do. But what about other sorts of brands? Your local zoo has probably been doing this for years. They often host overnight events at their locations, allowing families to experience wildlife after dark. You might also remember the Bates Hotel at SXSW a few years ago. This overnight stay helped to promote a television show. Get creative and design an experience that immerses visitors, not just for a few minutes, but for a full day or overnight stay.

Green Initiatives and Advocacy

Climate change, pollution, single-use plastics, and other green initiatives are making their way into the interactive marketing world. The first way this is happening is when environmental campaigns create their own events. A great example is the trash cleaning robot you control like a video game that’s aiming to clean up Chicago’s waterways. But the movement has gone way beyond this simple concept. 

Now, we’re increasingly seeing a call for sustainable marketing materials and recycled or reusable experience materials. And many brands who aren’t directly involved in advocacy are promoting green messages alongside their marketing. One such experience is the Pokemon GO Earth Day Cleanup promotion. In April of 2018, the AR video zgame partnered with the likes of Mission Blue and Heirs to Our Oceans to encourage players to pick up trash. More than 6,000 kgs of trash later, they had engaged over 4,200 attendees and created a positive association between their brand and an environmental cause.

Pop-ups

We’ve been seeing Pop-ups for years now, but the concept continues to grow and get more creative. Originally, we’d see pop-ups for retail brands and restaurants. A brand that’s new to town would rent a short-term space to introduce itself to the locals. Or a new restaurant concept would pop up to test its menu before opening a permanent place. But today’s pop-ups are so much more. 

Fast Food Aid Pop-Up- Tokyo, Japan

Photo Courtesy of Dezeen.com

To announce his 6th album last summer, Ed Sheeran opened 32 pop-up shops for precisely 6 hours. In Tokyo, a restaurant specializing in healthy foods opened a pop-up lab and gave away vitamins to people who ate fast food. “Dinner in the Sky” hoists guests off the ground to enjoy a world-class dining experience. And extreme sports clothing brand 37.5 opened the
World’s Most Remote Pop-Up Shop” on the side of a sheer cliff in Colorado. The lesson here is to get creative and think about ways a pop-up can be more than just another short-lived retail shop or restaurant.

Viral Challenges and Social Media Contests

Finally, we predict the era of viral challenges and social media contests will continue through 2020. You remember the Ice Bucket Challenge, right? It raised funds to combat ALS. Since then, the concept has been used by all sorts of brands and causes. The Vans challenge had people tossing their sneakers in the air. Lil Nas X had us all dancing to promote his Old Town Road single. What will your brand challenge us to do?

Want to go a different viral route? Lots of brands spread awareness with social media contests. Invite fans to caption an image. Have them share your brand with friends. Let them vote on a new product concept to win. Or go all out with a social media scavenger hunt. The sky is the limit here, and for the cost of a few nice prizes you’ll have people all over sharing your brand with their friends and followers.