How Embracing Experiential Marketing Can Win Customers

One of the hardest things to do nowadays is to capture customers attention. Today, an increasing number of brands are standing out from the competition through experiential marketing. And, no industry showcases this better than that of the food and beverage.

Experiential Marketing

What Is Experiential Marketing?

Experiential marketing is a tactic that engages customers through branded experiences.

So, what exactly does this mean?

It simply boils down to the fact that this marketing strategy connects brands and customers unlike any other. In fact, a recent study by EventTrack found 91% of consumers say they have more positive feelings about brands after attending events and experiences.¹

There isn’t an exact recipe for creating this type of campaigns. Experiential marketing can be many different things. Some of the most popular ones include stunts, product sampling, immersive experiences, events. However, there is one thing that all the successful campaigns have in common and that’s the connection you make with your customers.

Creating Something Memorable

With a thoughtfully designed campaign, a brand can develop a personal one-on-one experience with their customers. And, this personal connection is significant.

“By creating an experience, you are connecting with them on a whole new emotional level, creating long lasting memories beyond your brand’s product or service.”

    – Dan Ferguson, Partner and EVP Digital Engagement, Groove Jones

Dan Ferguson, Partner and EVP Digital Engagement at Groove Jones believes it’s important for brands and agencies to focus their efforts on what will make a memorable experience.

He said, “Experiential marketing is a great way for brands to engage with their audience, to actually meet them, and engage with them in an activity or to have a conversation them. By creating an experience, you are connecting with them on a whole new emotional level, creating long-lasting memories beyond your brand’s product or service.”

It All Started With A Coupon

You may be surprised to learn that the food and beverage industry was one of the first industries to employ experiential marketing. All the way back in 1886, Coca Cola began distributing sample coupons. Over the years, this form of marketing has taken many different forms. Today, it would be shocking to find a brand simply handing out coupons as their primary marketing method.²

Experiential Marketing

Image Source: Wired

Current Trends

As technology evolves so does experiential marketing. Brands are working with agencies to combine an array of technologies to provide customers with an extremely unique and interactive experience.

“We use everything! From touch screens to VR headsets.”

    – Dan Ferguson, Partner and EVP Digital Engagement, Groove Jones

When asked exactly what types of technology is often used for these campaigns, Dan with Groove Jones said: “We use everything! From touch screens to VR headsets.”

Other technologies that are often being used include:

  • Augmented reality
  • Facial recognition software
  • Motion detection

Behind The Scenes

In addition to the technologies mentioned above, there is also crucial technology behind-the-scenes to help ensure customers have a great experience.

Chase Daigle, Client Development at Propac Agency, explains that by, “By using machine learning, event planners will be able to identify their most valuable attendee segments and activate audiences through digital channels to fill their events with the right attendees. Event planners will be able to provide each attendee with a personalized experience so that they’re limited time at the event is as relevant and engaging as possible.”

“Event planners will be able to provide each attendee with a personalized experience so that they’re limited time at the event is as relevant and engaging as possible.”

    – Chase Daigle, Client Development, Propac Agency

Brands aren’t just simply combining technology with experiential marketing to create a fun environment. By doing this, brands can make this experience both memorable and personalize it to their target audience.

Learn From These Campaigns

When agencies and brands come together, the possibilities are endless. Food and beverage brands can benefit from experiential marketing as it will engage customers, build awareness, and reach a new audience.

Keep on reading to see exactly how a few food and beverage brands are utilizing this marketing strategy.

Modelo Especial – Fun, Interactive Fighting

Constellation Brands was seeking a way to highlight the relationship that they have with Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC). To do just that, Groove Jones created this experiential campaign. This virtual reality experience allows UFC and Modelo fans to step into a UFC fighting octagon and take on a fierce opponent.

Dan with Groove Jones explained, “The experience is ongoing and is leveraged at bars and events across Texas and in Phoenix and Nashville during big UFC Fight Nights.”

Be sure to click here to learn more about the Fighting Spirit with VR campaign.

Meanwhile, if you wish to see Groove Jones’ other experiential and event work, check out their portfolio here. 

Chick-fil-A Unites Football Rivals

During the 2017 and 2018 College Football season, Chick-fil-A stood out from the other fast-food restaurants with a unique pop-up restaurant.

In 2017, they developed the “Rivalry Restaurant.” This event allowed customers to celebrate one of football’s biggest rivalries, The University of Georgia vs Auburn University. This temporary restaurant was set up on the Georgia-Alabama border with the goal to bring two communities together.³

In 2018, Chick-fil-A did a similar pop-up, but this time it celebrated the Army-Navy rivalry. During this event, they hosted active-duty military, veterans and their families at the private event.⁴

In these campaigns, Chick-fil-A proves that technology isn’t always necessary to create a memorable event. In reality, all it takes is a very unique idea.

Skittles’ Theatrical Ad

Image Source: Skittles

Undeniably, one of the most unusual commercials of 2019 so far. Instead of airing a traditional Super Bowl ad, Skittles performed a half-hour Broadway musical titled Skittles Commercial: The Broadway Musical. This was a one-night special event and starred actor Michael C. Hall. There is no doubt that this strategy allowed the brand to stand out from the others during the Super Bowl.

They did a great job of tailoring this campaign to fit their target audience. It also truly resonates with the Skittle brand as it’s a humorous and playful brand. More importantly, all the proceeds from this “commercial” went to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.⁵

Cheetos Restaurant

Image Source: Cheetos & INSIDER

What happens when Cheetos seek a creative way to promote their product? The brand works with celebrity chefs to open up pop-up Cheeto-theme restaurants in New York.

In 2017, The Spotted Cheetah, debuted with celebrity chef Anne Burrell. It was so popular that reservations sold out almost immediately. And, the restaurant was only open for three days. The whole restaurant was Cheeto inspired from the menu to decorations.

The wild success prompted another pop-up the following year in 2018. With celebrity chef Roy Choi, this pop-up was called the Flamin’ Hot Spot.⁶


Experiential marketing is a great strategy to help your brand capture attention. In addition, it helps you stand out from competitors. By making a memorable event, your brand has the opportunity to create an extremely meaningful connection with your audience. And, last but not least, a few key things to keep in mind.

Tailor The Event

Make sure to tailor the event to your target audience. There is nothing worse than going all out for an event and then having the wrong audience show up at the event. By specifically designing your even around your audience you have a much better opportunity for success.

Be Different

By being different, you can guarantee that your event will be memorable. Despite creating a unique event, it’s important that it still accurately represents your brand.

Consider Partnerships

An experiential marketing partnership can offer your brand a great opportunity. As seen with the Cheetos pop-up restaurant, they partnered up with celebrity chefs to help make their dream a reality.

Ask For Help

The best way to achieve the three things mentioned above is by seeking help. There are so many different aspects that go into experiential marketing. But, brands don’t have to do it all alone. Find a marketing agency that specializes in experiential marketing today.



¹ The Startup | ² Coca-Cola | ³ Eater  | ⁴ The Chicken Wire | ⁵ Playbill  | ⁶ Food & Wine

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Nicole Schuster
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