Building emotional connections with event attendees has always been at the heart of experiential marketing, but until recently, finding a way to quantify those feelings has been a challenge. Now, as the fields of biometrics and wearable technology continue to advance, event marketers are equipped with the tools they need to gain insight on how attendees respond to their products and experiences.
Case in point: Infiniti, whose activation at Pebble Beach Automotive Week featured wearable armbands that tracked attendees’ heart rate, pupil dilation and body temperature. The data was then pulled into an algorithm that turned those emotions and measurements into digital artwork displayed on LED screens.
We recently sat down with Allyson Witherspoon, director of marketing communications and media at Infiniti, to discuss the activation, and the benefits and challenges of measuring emotion. Following is an excerpt from our conversation.
Event Marketer: Why is Infiniti investing in biometrics?
Allyson Witherspoon: What’s really interesting about automotive is you have beautiful cars and performance but there’s never really a way to show how it impacts you emotionally. So we had been toying with that idea—what if there was a way you could actually measure the way people feel about a car? It started with that. The Q60 coupe was launching at the time [of the event] and it’s this beautiful, sleek, sexy car and it gives you this emotional response, so that was one of the focus models for Pebble Beach. We wanted to show how the car made you feel.”
EM: What are the benefits of measuring attendee emotion for automotive brands?
AW: It was a different way to get people to engage with the vehicles. For the longest time, I’ve been trying to find different ways to reinvent static car displays. If you’re at an event and you can’t drive the car for whatever reason but you still want to interact with it, as a marketer you’re trying to find ways to get people into the car and to get people to touch it. We wanted to create a different way to show a static car display.
EM: How did you leverage the biometric data collected?
AW: What we wanted to do was have people’s response feed into the design team so that that would be a way for them to be inspired by how people felt—it would inspire the next generation of design.
EM: Did you come across any challenges in preparing for this event?
AW: I think server space and how you hide all of that [equipment] was something that we learned a lot about, because you’re powering a lot of data and you need a lot of hardware… It was a good collaboration between the creative and the technology teams to make sure that the vision could actually be executed. They worked really well to make sure that the tech felt seamless and didn’t feel forced.”
EM: What should other event marketers know about incorporating wearables and biometrics into their events?
AW: People are kind of nervous in situations like that and they can be shy. The biggest takeaway for us is that you have to make sure that you’re providing an environment where attendees can feel comfortable. We had product specialists there and they were very helpful in guiding people along.
EM: Does Infiniti plan to execute future biometrics-based events?
AW: We definitely want to keep moving forward with biometrics. We’re always trying to push how we get people to engage with the vehicles and how we create that emotional connection because, especially with luxury and performance cars, it is about emotion. So it’s our first foray into that and we really gained a lot from the output of it and we saw that people enjoyed it, so it’s about how we keep growing these types of experiences.