Despite all the ways in which consumer habits have changed over the past two years, one thing has not: the desire to connect live and in-person. Look no further for proof than with concert king Live Nation, which beat revenue expectations in Q4 2021 and generated ticket sales in Q1 2022 45 percent higher than at the same point in 2019.
We need to take advantage of the evolution of the consumer’s relationship with digital, content and creativity as a result of the pandemic. “Yes, physical events build gravitas,” says Matt McCoubrey, VP at Salt XC. “But the digital experience is no more or less important. The two sides are better together and marketing programs should be built with both sides playing off one another.”
Marketers need to pivot their definition of events. No longer is it about offline and online—it’s about seeing content as the event. Let’s explore a few examples of brands and how they are leveraging the idea of “content as the event.”
USE TECHNOLOGY AS AN EQUALIZER
Groundbreaking events, like HBO’s “SXSWestworld,” have helped to forever change how marketers view experiential’s role in the marketing mix: that events can be filmed for content and become the media budget—if you design them that way.
“For content, that day has arrived,” argues Jeff Rogers, President at Salt XC. “When a thousand consumers show up at your event with a full video editing and production suite in their pocket, they become your content production engine.”
“Squid Game” is another interesting example from Netflix. The show itself, defined as the content, generated an incredible real world ripple effect of consumers dressing as characters for Halloween and millions recreating the show’s challenges on TikTok. The content was the event, the online generated offline experiences and vice versa. And because of its on-demand nature, many fans came to watch the content only after playing with the memes and conversation that it created.
CREATE SCALED ACCESSIBILITY
A well-designed experience should trigger actions among consumers on-site, but it should be meaningfully accessible to people anywhere else. Take MrBeast on YouTube, who has more than 50 million subscribers and engages viewers in wild challenges with cash giveaways. He launched a chain called MrBeast Burger (via partner Virtual Dining Concepts), where his signature burger recipe was served only through food delivery apps and made to order in “ghost kitchens” of local restaurants. The model could translate well at events—the food, the tangible items, the scent—and could be shared with consumers across the country via unboxing experiences or micro events. Can you smell all that valuable first-party data? We can.
CONTENT INSPIRES COMMERCE
Kraft Heinz Canada uses its own in-house social media agency, The Kitchen, to promote its Kraft Dinner brand with content that shows consumers how the product can be used as an ingredient or base, instead of a standalone meal. By reading inspiring recipes, consumers are more inclined to purchase and keep multiple boxes of the product in a pantry as opposed to just one. The content experiences generated from this strategy all live in the offline space, but were triggered through online inspiration.
If this feels like you’re designing journeys as opposed to building experiences, you’re thinking like an early adopter—of Experiential Commerce.