Citi is no stranger to the world of event marketing. The financial services brand produces thousands of events around the globe each year, activating everything from entertainment sponsorships to cause marketing experiences to a proprietary event series. But even the pros need to take an industry pulse-check from time to time, and Citi did its due diligence.
The brand on Oct. 1 released a study on the connection between events and brand loyalty, with 1,000 American adults serving as the sample size. The research ultimately showed that consumers who interact with brands at events are more loyal and engage more frequently with the company producing them. Case in point: 85 percent of participants agreed with the statement, “I have a much more positive perception of companies after attending their events.” To dive deeper into the data, we caught up with Citi’s global consumer cmo, Jennifer Breithaupt. Following are her insights.
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1. Consumers Frequently Engage Post-Event
The study illustrated that, on average, Americans take 21 pictures during live events and share them on social media. This comes as no surprise to most event marketers, but reviewing how attendees engage with a brand after that company’s event revealed a bit more. Following a live experience, 38 percent of attendees visit the company’s website, 32 percent purchase its products or services and 30 percent use or wear an item with the brand’s logo on it, such as a t-shirt or pen.
“If you look at what happens after attending a live event and the way consumers are engaging with a brand or an event sponsor, it’s really quite powerful,” says Breithaupt. “Across the board you see just how important it is as a brand to not only show up in a different kind of way but also to reach and connect with these consumers and really be in their consideration.”
2. Millennials Engage the Most
Millennials are renowned for craving experiences over material objects and the study proved that the demographic continues to value brands that offer engaging live experiences. The research showed, for instance, that 78 percent of Americans agree with the statement, “If a company invited me to be a VIP at an event, I’d be a customer for life.” But that number increases to 88 percent among millennials. The same goes for a host of other stats, including how likely a consumer is to recommend a brand’s products or services after attending one of their events (30 percent overall, 45 percent among millennials).
“That was a really interesting thing just to see how much stronger and important these events and experiences are for millennials,” says Breithaupt. “It’s interesting because millennials would rather tell people about something they’ve done rather than something they have. That’s where experiential events become so critical.”
3. Brand-Owned Experiences Resonate
Breithaupt says the study shows a growing a trend toward consumers’ desire for scalable, brand-owned experiences as opposed to one-off events.
“Two years ago we launched Citi Sound Vault and that was taking a large artist and putting them in a small venue, and the only way to get into the Citi Sound Vault is with your Citi credit or debit card product,” says Breithaupt. “And once you get into the Sound Vault, it’s a lifetime memory for these folks… So I think the trend is people creating their own unique experiences and opportunities that are pretty big and scalable, and not just going in and sponsoring things, per se. And people have been doing it, but I think you see some brands showing up in really unique ways, and not just doing a ‘one and done.’ We feel pretty good about continuing that Citi Sound Vault series as a way of differentiating what we’ve been doing with experiential.”
4. Experiential is Going Strong
Citi is once again prepared to go all-in on experiential in 2019, but rather than increasing the volume of its events, the brand aims to be more strategic about their execution.
“Experiential marketing is a super key component to our overall marketing strategy,” Breithaupt says. “If you think about it, we are an experience brand—we have credit cards and debit cards with brand in hand—so we’re all about having our brand as part of these stories that are happening through people’s experiences… Then also, it appeals to people’s hearts rather than just their heads when they’re thinking about the consideration of your brand versus others. We’ve been doing this for quite some time. We are not letting up on it, we’re just getting smarter and more clever about how we’re doing it and how do we do it in a bigger way, globally.”