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Powered by experience: welcome to the future of marketing 

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Millennials and Gen Z consumers are over owning “stuff.”

Instead, they’re after memories – 82% said they’ve participated or attended at least one live brand-related experience, according to Eventbrite, while 72% said they’d rather spend on experiences than products or services.

Experiential’s rise can be linked to the growing culture of ad avoidance and consumers’ desire for something that breaks the norm. It’s this quirkiness, memorability and ability to build an emotional connection that brands need to buy into.

Experience has become big business

Driven by consumer demand, experience has become big business and shows no signs of stopping. Experiential budgets are holding firm, despite overall marketing budgets shrinking for the first time in seven years.

Barriers to entry

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As audiences fragment, signalling a mass move away from above-the-line consumption, this is a chance to try something different to fire up consumers’ imaginations. But while experiential is opening up new routes to market, it comes as no surprise that budget can cause the most teeth-gnashing anxiety among brands keen to give experiential a go. The same goes for resource, as most organisations lack dedicated experiential roles, despite the channel’s obvious benefits.

Experiences will quickly become normalised in the eyes of the consumer

Another issue is saturation. Many brands are already doing experience well. Experiences will quickly become normalised in the eyes of the consumer, meaning their expectations of something truly unique will soon be off the scale. That’s why marketers are searching for the ability to provide edgy experiences that push the envelope, while being able to tie them directly back to the brand, its values and objectives.

The role of technology

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The powerful innovation offered by technology is underpinning the sorts of unique and engaging installations that people crave: physical experiences they can talk to friends about or share on social.

Smart agencies have cottoned on to the trend and made experiential a key part of their marketing mix. In an increasingly busy landscape where everyone thinks they’re an expert, the problem for brands is finding who they should turn to in order to get the best results.

What brands want

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Brands want experiential to boost their image by forming a stronger emotional bond with consumers. But key to this is the ability to create effective experiences at a low-cost and prove ROI.

Brands are generally aware of what works and know what they want - but most can’t do experiential alone. It takes a huge amount of expertise and resource to deliver something extraordinary, which is why they have to navigate the complex, overcrowded agency landscape.

What this means for agencies

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The opportunity for agencies is clear. Economic and political instability are taking their toll on UK advertising spend. According to the Q3 2019 IPA Bellwether Report, marketing outlay fell for the first time in seven years.

Winning briefs in the first place is no mean feat. A growing number of experience-focused agencies - from transformed veteran ad teams to new kids on the block - are flooding the market. This is making it all the more important than ever to understand how marketers like to discover agencies - or be found by them.

Agencies must be agile, adapting to the specific task at hand

Believe it or not, being a specialist doesn’t always cut the mustard. Agencies must be agile, adapting to the specific task at hand. Size and experience are important considerations. But in experiential, the agencies that most impress brands are those that can deliver an impactful initiative – and prove ROI.

Brands have a pretty good handle on what they want and need to do to win in this growing battleground of engagement. But there’s also plenty of opportunity for agencies. Those that can innovate, create situations that fire new emotions in consumers and, ultimately, demonstrate success will ultimately enjoy a rewarding experience of their own.

By Dom Glenn, Business Director at Ingenuity

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