Brand competition for consumers’ attention has never been more intense, as we emerge from new challenges and must navigate this post-covid, digitally focused world. Gaming has been a defining force, revolutionizing everything from esports to ecommerce, and it’s now at the forefront of experiential marketing powered by consumer and market intelligence. Let’s see how that looks – and ways in which some brands are already on board.
Audience understanding is always paramount regardless of industry – and most brands know this, but they do little to attain it. Instead, they connect with audiences due to a mix of brand recognition and luck, living one disruption away from irrelevancy.
And assumptions about audience demographics looms large amongst the lies brands tell themselves. As we can see below, even gaming aficionados inhabit a range of unexpected professions beyond “creative arts,” particularly when compared against the conversations of their professional peers. Riot Games’ elaborate, exploding, experiential advertising was the talk of the virtual town, drawing out engagement from all corners of online – and revealing new segments to target
And Arcane isn’t the only experiential marketer in town. Others realize it’s a great way to capture consumers’ incredibly shrinking attention spans – and they have consumer and market intelligence to back it up.
Before we get going, here are a few statistics that speak to the growing interest in experiential marketing – particularly in a digital capacity
- Brands understand that consumer experiences are necessary to stand out above the competition. 68% of marketing leaders say that competitiveness is noticeably centering in the arena of consumer experiences.
- An astonishing 91% of consumers say they’re more inclined to buy from a brand after participating in a brand activation or experience. 40% of those said it increased their feeling of brand loyalty.
- Brands that focus on improving their consumer experiences can expect to generate up to an 80% increase in revenue.
Let’s look at a couple of examples, and then we’ll explore the changing environment of experiential marketing.
Clothing Retailer Pacsun Takes on Roblox – and More
The pandemic propelled the momentum of the digital transformation. And Pacsun didn’t rest on its laurels waiting for brick-and-mortar retail to pick back up. The clothing retailer, a fan-favorite of Gen Z, got busy and launched its branded items in the Roblox Avatar Marketplace. The Roblox gaming community boasts millions of 3D virtual worlds – and getting your fashion items and accessories into the game is yet one more marketing opportunity
Not only that, but it’s also a revenue opportunity. Users pay real money for Robux, the digital currency of the game, which they use to buy your branded items – increasing your exposure in the process.
For example, this simple t-shirt design costs just 70 Robux in-game – roughly 87 cents. But every bit counts, right? And the fashion industry is perfectly positioned to grow market share with items sold in virtual worlds. This is only the beginning.
Pacsun has done its consumer and market intelligence homework to understand who their audience is and what they’re doing. And now, they are on the cutting edge of the digital landscape.
From a recent press release, Pacsun states, “The brand continues to be at the forefront of the fashion industry to embrace new technology … to grow the brand’s connection to its youth community and their culture. It was the first fashion brand to accept cryptocurrency via BitPay, introduce a catalog on Roblox, and recently debuted its first series of NFTs via an auction on Open Sea.”
Shout out to @pacsun on their first-ever #nft for #givingtuesday to support @fashionscholarshipfund, a nonprofit that works directly with the most-talented students from diverse backgrounds in all sectors of the fashion industry. Use #crytpo to make a bid: https://t.co/7M3QyvAq6h pic.twitter.com/7ukPnkuiDx
— BitPay (@BitPay) December 1, 2021
Pacsun knows their audience is deeply invested in virtual worlds and is meeting them where they are. It’s the future of experiential marketing, and it’s here right now.
Lexus Puts Gamers in the Driver’s Seat
This campaign was super fun and whoever signed off on it deserves a medal. Of course, it became a concept car never meant for the assembly line, but fans piled in anyway to cast votes on their favorite gaming features to put in a 2021 Lexus model IS sedan. Lexus tapped the Twitch gaming community to help them design the perfect roadworthy gaming space. More specifically, a Twitch streamer named Fuslie hosted the livestream chat where her 1+ million followers chose their ultimate gamer modifications to the car.
The live stream garnered 554k unique viewers who watched and weighed in on their favorite features. A month later, Lexus delivered their concept car built to the gamers’ specs – complete with futuristic lighting and a gaming cockpit built into the passenger seat. It was a unique take on experiential marketing that leaned into consumer and market intelligence to highlight an engaged audience in the gaming community.
Experiential Marketing Reboot – Digital Style
If you want to catch a consumer, you have to think like a consumer. That’s an adaptation borrowed from an old adage, but it works. What do your customers want? Haven’t they been seeking an experience all along? After all, seeing your brand in magazines and social media helps to that end. They’re buying into your brand because they see a part of themselves in your messaging.
But many brands get trapped in the idea that consumers are following them. It’s the other way around. They resonate with you when your ideas match what’s on their mind. Sure, you have some influence to a degree – as long as it goes in a direction they’re comfortable with. But at the end of the day, the market will correct itself, and you need to be on the right side of the fence. And you need to beat out your competition if you want to influence anything.
People have always wanted personalized experiences. That’s why department stores (that are good at it) and tradeshows are such a hit. Experiences are conducive to marketing because it creates personalized engagement, a strong connection between your product and emotions, a positive touchpoint, and social shareability.
Below is a list of terms that can be used to describe experiential marketing. Of course, they have their roots in ‘analog’ marketing – but try to visualize your brand doing consumer experiences in the virtual world with each of these terms. Think about it like a thought experiment:
- Pop-up marketing
- Engagement marketing
- Guerilla marketing
- Experiential marketing activations
- Live marketing
- Special event marketing
It kind of changes how you think about it, hmm
There is form and function in marketing, to be sure. However, the digital transformation has had a distinct impact on the function part. In other words, people are still people, but how we approach them from a marketing standpoint has fundamentally changed. In a post-covid world, there’s no going back to the way things used to be. Audience intelligence is crucial
That’s not to say we abandon in-person experiences, however. Those are impactful and will continue to resume the impact they had pre-pandemic. For instance, trade shows are making a comeback because they’re just such a powerful way for B2B and B2C brands to connect with consumers
There’s a big ‘but’ though. Virtual experiences have left their footprint on a young audience that will expect that kind of connection as an option. Remember – the “personal” part of personalization is the part that does the trick.
Paying Attention and Finding Your Market
Remember how we said Arcane’s experiential advertising connected with a diverse audience? Well, they kind of have a head-start. It’s an offshoot of Riot Game’s insanely popular video game, League of Legends, released back in 2009. In other words, they had the luxury of being in the right place at the right time. But what if you’re just getting to know the space?
Social listening will go a long way to provide you with the consumer and market intelligence you need to break ground in virtual worlds. And the sooner you do – the better, because not everyone is paying attention yet. However, the competition is growing by the day.
Sentiment in the general gaming segment is very high right now at 74% positive on a scale of -100 to +100. The old folks that said gaming would rot your brain were just flat-out wrong. Gaming is a force. It’s not only the catalyst that helped consumers bide their time during lockdowns – it grabbed the spotlight as the platform that can provide any form of entertainment when the need arises. Any marketer worth their salt should be paying attention.
And we can see that behind the interests displayed by social media users. Aside from apparent gaming interests, family, fashion, sports, and anime led the charts in audience interests. As we showed earlier, digging into deeper consumer insights such as professions can shine light on a unique angle within your research. In this broad gaming analysis, executive management and sales & marketing make a strong showing. And that tells you that the competition is likely already at the starting line.
Well. What do you do now? Pulling the social conversation into a data visualization is a great start to see what’s top of mind with consumers. Of course, your brand will need its unique angle to get into the conversation somehow. Seeing what’s going on in the gaming world currently, via social listening, helps you not get distracted from a billion SEO articles telling you what to do. You have to stay on point.
If you want to get your brand in on the game – this is the portal to do it. It shows what people are talking about; representing what they want. At this point, it’s up to you to figure out the nearest touchpoint to connect your brand to the conversation. It’s an exhilarating time to be a marketer. The options to take your brand into virtual worlds are growing. Reach out for a demo, and we’ll get you ahead of the pack with actionable consumer and market intelligence to inform your efforts!