To put it simply, branding activations—also known as experiential marketing—is the strategy of using events to reach your target audience in-person. In general, brands are adopting physical pop-up events in large numbers, with 79 percent planning to use it more in the coming years and 67 percent saying it’s an effective marketing strategy.
And it’s not hard to see why. A recent study showed that after attending an in-person experiential marketing event 98 percent of users feel more inclined to make a purchase, 74 percent have a better opinion of the brand, and 70 percent become regular customers. So while pop-ups don’t have as wide of a reach as digital or TV ads, they are much more engaging and effective at boosting brand awareness and reputation.
All of this begs the question of what comprises a successful brand activation. If you take a look at best-in-class experiential marketing, you will find creativity that wows consumers, interactivity that pulls them in, promotional offers that motivate them, and an incorporation of reputable influencers to drive trust—the final result being a connection with consumers on a much deeper, emotional level and a lasting impact that trumps the removed feel of traditional marketing tactics. If your brand can tick all of those boxes, it will surely receive a jump in the oldest and most trusted source of marketing—word-of-mouth. In fact, 71 percent of pop-up attendees share their experience with friends and family.
Here are 7 recent brand activations and pop-ups that captivated consumers, improved brand perception, and fostered lasting brand-to-consumer relationships:
1. The Amazon Bar
Last month, the online retail behemoth Amazon launched a pop-up bar in downtown Tokyo in an attempt to promote the wide selection of alcoholic drinks available on their e-commerce platform. The 78-seat bar was opened for 10 days and sold a variety of cocktails, wine, beer, and sakes. In true e-commerce fashion, patrons were recommended drinks on tablets at their table, reminiscent of Amazon’s popular product suggestions feature.
2. Google pop-up store
To showcase its host of burgeoning technologies, Google opened up a futuristic pop-up store in Manhattan last month. The activation let consumers and tech enthusiasts test out cutting-edge tech like the Pixel 2 smartphone, the Google Home, Daydream VR Headset. Google’s pop-up was a great way to get their tech in their consumers’ hands rather than just having them view it through a screen.
3. A$AP Rocky’s AWGE x Selfridges Bodega
A$AP Rocky and UK department store Selfridges recently teamed-up to open a temporary Harlem-themed bodega in the streets of London. The faux-convenience store brand activation offers limited edition clothing targeted at streetwear enthusiasts. On top of this, the pop-up will sell a variety of products, including housewares, branded donuts, and other collectibles. By mimicking the aesthetic of an A$AP Rocky music video, the experiential marketing ploy is hoping to draw in hip, urban Millennials.
4. IKEA kitchen-tool vending machine
Instead of sitting back and waiting for consumers to make a trip to their brick-and-mortar stores, IKEA is putting branded kitchen-tool vending machines in the Stockholm subway where thousands of people will interact with them. Not only do the vending machines dish out useful kitchen tools, but they also direct users to another nearby IKEA pop-up store stocked with more home goods.
5. Xbox Stay n’ Play video game hotel
To promote the release of the Xbox One X, Xbox temporarily opened a pop-up hotel specifically designed for gamers. The hotel, located in Sydney, provided gamers with a top-of-the-line gaming environment to play a variety of games delivered at intervals by a concierge. The rooms boasted huge flat screen TVs, Dolby headphones, and a host of other features designed to compliment avid gamers.
6. Stranger Things-inspired pop-up bar
In anticipation of the second season of Stranger Things, Emporium Popups opened a bar themed around the hit show. The bar, named the Upside Down, drew thousands of bar-goers from all over who wanted to get a taste of the Stranger Things universe—a testament to exploiting the hype around pop culture to boost one’s own brand reputation. The owners were eventually sent a cease and desist letter from Netflix but the buzz they achieved was undeniable.
7. Doodle Bar’s glow-in-the-dark tacos
Doodle Bar in London hosted at pop-up taco truck to celebrate the Mexican Day of the Dead holiday. If glow-in-the-dark tacos weren’t enough of a selling point, the bar served up a Day of the Dead-inspired cocktail menu and an exclusive film screening. By finding a unique and creative way to exploit a popular cultural celebration, Doodle Bar increased consumers in the short term and brand awareness in the long run.