Brands are needing to communicate their brand stories with more authenticity than ever to meet the demands of ever-changing consumer behaviour, says Ceri Gravelle of eventeem
Telling the brand’s story has never been so key in the experiential industry. With consumers becoming more and more savvy to commercialism, promotional staff are needing to communicate product information and the brand’s story to the tiniest of detail at experiential events.
Consumers want to know if a product is gluten free, vegan, cruelty free, recyclable, organic and along with this, they want an authentic brand story that they can believe in.
Ensuring promotional staff have strong knowledge and clear passion for the product is so important in order to win over the consumer. That means employing promotional staff who are the right fit for the brand is vital.
They need to be able to demonstrate genuine knowledge of the product – for instance, if what’s being promoted is an organic and gluten free product, you need staff who are passionate about organic foods or eat gluten free products themselves, so they can offer genuine interaction with the consumer.
As always, consumers need to ‘buy’ the person before they buy the brand.
Over the past couple of years, clients have been putting more creative thought into the way they communicate brand’s stories to meet the changing behaviour of consumers. One of the key trends has been bringing individuals involved in the production of the product to the sampling events – for example, for the Rachel’s Organic Yoghurt brand, the Welsh dairy farmers who supply the organic milk for ‘Rachel’s’ came along to sampling events.
With the consumers being able to interact with the people involved in the production first-hand, the brand story becomes more reliable and trustworthy, and the customer is more likely to become invested in the product.
Not all clients are able to provide this kind of interaction, but for those that can, it creates a level of authenticity that consumers buy into and that resonates, driving more loyalty, sales and increased brand affinity in the long run.
Another emerging trend over the past year or so is the amount of thought being put into the times of day and the location of an experiential event. If you are promoting a breakfast product, for example, then organising sampling in the mornings around busy commuter areas like train stations will give people on their way to work the chance to try it at breakfast time.
By sampling a product where and when it’s supposed to be used like this, the consumer is better educated and the product becomes so much more useful and relevant to them. Even if you’re running these events in locations with lower footfall, if your activity mirrors the consumer’s real life behaviour, it will have a bigger impact.
Historically, measuring the success of an experiential food or drink sampling campaign has been difficult. The usual protocol is to measure how many products have been distributed, how many people interacted with the staff, and the customer feedback.
But marketing and brand managers are becoming more accountable for their budgets, so they’re having to provide evidence of campaign success in more detail than ever before — and this includes how the consumer’s behaviour has been affected by the campaign and the Return on Investment (ROI) from live engagements.
The industry is trying to tackle the issue of ROI measurement in experiential – so the Institute of Promotional Marketing (IPM) is developing on a new model to evaluate the effectiveness of experiential which explains how behavioural change of consumers by live engagement should and can be measured. The IPM has put together key principles and a step-by-step approach to how this can work, for pop-up retail, creative sampling, gamification live stunts and performances, to name a few.
This new model will be rolling out over the next 12 to 24 months and will be a huge benefit to those in the experiential industry looking to emphasise the worth of sampling. I know we at eventeem will definitely be looking to utilise it to evaluate our sampling success.
Ceri Gravelle is Managing Director and founder of promotional staffing and experiential agency, eventeem, which specialises in the organisation and staffing of sampling events.