Experiential marketing is all about creating experiences for your customers that they genuinely want to be a part of and share with their peers. In perfect synergy, augmented reality provides a platform to power immersive experiences that are not location-bound and can reach any of the world’s 5 billion mobiles.

What is experiential marketing, and why does it matter in 2022?

Compared to traditional marketing efforts that capitalize on product promotion, experiential marketing is consumer-focused, delivering on people’s desire to be entertained, educated, stimulated, and challenged. 


Although experiences have always been at the heart of the entertainment business, the concept of selling an experience is not limited to theaters and amusement parks. Today, it is more important than ever for brands to tune in. Why so? As Forbes highlights, the best way to engage consumers is to create engaging and emotional experiences that they want to participate in.


In 2022 we have the most advanced tools for customer targeting, but we also have the best-equipped and savvy consumers. At any moment, your target audience can choose the media they consume. If your customers don’t want to see your ad, it will be bouncing against an ad blocker. People skip TV commercials, purchase YouTube or Spotify premium, unfollow social business accounts, mark brand marketing emails as spam and install ad blockers. 


An old-school product promo will rarely work. Yes, we have Google Ads and sponsored social posts that are still making it into our customers’ lives. But the web-based ad spaces is where companies first dip their toes into experiential efforts. We see businesses give away brand-related insight, such as free e-books and webinars (educational experiences), exclusive content (stimulating experiences) or invite people to interact with branded Snapchat lenses (entertainment & augmented reality). 

What does augmented reality have to do with experiential marketing?

Traditionally, experiential marketers invited people to interact with their brand in real-world situations, such as events, concerts, festivals. While we’ve had a lot less opportunity to bring to life large-scale events due to the global lockdown, it is not the only reason why AR is taking over the experiential marketing sphere.


First, augmented reality enables businesses to launch immersive and innovative experiences remotely. It lets brands reach global consumers who can simultaneously interact with the same content. There is no need to invest in technology. You can launch an AR experience to your consumers via their own devices—camera phones. And the reach is vast, considering there are 5.31 billion unique mobile phone users worldwide. 


Most importantly, brands can educate customers about their products and services through building AR interactions. And just as traditional marketing—tech-infused experiential efforts lead to increased engagement with brands, products, and services.


But don’t just take my word for it. There is scientific proof that AR is indeed an excellent tool for meeting the experiential needs of consumers.


Researchers have found that AR-based experiences improve people’s attitudes towards brands. Meanwhile, survey data reveal a connection between augmented reality use in e-commerce and consumers’ purchase satisfaction. Research has also shown that AR enables customer creativity in the purchase journey and people spend more time with AR ads.


However, a common thread across all studies is the importance of AR content. AR technology in and of itself is not an experience. You must add value to the end users. Users from East and West unanimously agree that AR content quality is the most important factor when it comes to tech adoption. Therefore, before you run off with the AR’s novelty effect, remember—experiential marketing engages customers, not because your adverts are shouting the loudest, but because your brand offers unforgettable and valuable experiences. 


That’s a wrap with theory. Now let’s tie it together with some practical augmented reality examples that perfectly fall into the category of experiential marketing.

What are some good AR-powered experiential marketing examples?

1. Benefit Cosmetics AR game surpasses 50% conversion rate

With most UK’s retail locations closed due to the pandemic, Benefit Cosmetics turned to augmented reality and gamification to launch its Magnet Extreme Lengthening Mascara. 


The company developed a custom-built mobile AR platform that let prospects use their phone camera to view and collect Benefit’s digital tokens in their physical space. Once collected, customers were offered product discounts and guided through to Benefit’s online store to purchase.


The experiential campaign worked miracles as the company saw its conversion rate go beyond 50%, and CTR of 39.4%. The average AR gamification dwell time was 2 minutes and 22 seconds. Not a metric a traditional ad could dream of, but goes hand  in hand with research showing that people spend more time with AR advertising materials than traditional ads.  

2. Mirage by City Social reveals art history through augmented reality cocktails

Augmented reality is not just for big brands and home-based experiences, though. Some time ago, London-based Mirage by City Social launched personalized AR drinks coasters. Served along with their specialist cocktails, customers can scan the coasters to explore the evolution of art, starting from 500CE.


It is an excellent example from an experiential marketing perspective because it is not selling anything. It is delivering an experience that creates positive vibes towards the brand. It also showcases how well the brand knows its customers by selecting art history as a topic of interest to cocktail-lovers. After all, you may go to a cocktail bar after attending a gallery (or drink cocktails at gallery exhibitions).

3. IKEA’s AR app enables Sims-like home planning

If you’ve ever been a fan of the computer home-building game, The Sims, you may appreciate the IKEA Studio app in your grown-up life. Although IKEA has taken dibs at AR for quite a while, it has recently revamped its AR design app. Compared to the IKEA Place app that lets you try AR furniture in your environment, the new studio app enables users to capture entire 3D room plans and redesign them from top to bottom. According to Wired, you need an iPhone to explore the new beta features, but IKEA is building this in preparation for Apple Glass. Exciting!


The video example below is from its more accessible app, IKEA Place, as the studio is still relatively under wraps. Nevertheless, it shows how AR experiences can be used as educational tools. Of course, the apps are entertaining to use, but they also help customers feel confident about what goes into their shopping basket. After all, research shows that AR empowers customer purchase decisions.

4. Timely AR Packaging drives brand engagement

A list of remote experiential marketing examples could not be complete without an AR packaging example. Product packaging has immense potential for brands. It can drive engagement, traction, build loyalty and boost sales. We’ve got a whole other blog for AR in retail settings with ten other examples, so do check it out if you’re specifically into this segment.


For this line-up, we chose the below example of how Estonian dairy producer, Tere milk, capitalized on its country’s Eurovision fandom to boost brand awareness. Their packaging became AR markers that held onto exclusive content for Tere Piim customers. 


By scanning the milk packaging with the Overly app, people could watch their favorite Eurovision musicians perform in augmented reality on their tabletops. AR videos were filmed specifically for this campaign and could not be located elsewhere. More than 50,000 people used the opportunity to watch the exclusive content, and hundreds shared their experience on social media, generating excellent traction for the brand. You can explore more detail here.

5. Augmented reality city tour keeps theater fans in check

People have experiential needs, which is why the popularity of AR treasure hunts spiked during the pandemic. It is clear that we were often screen-fatigued and struggling to come up with things to do. Thankfully, lots of businesses helped.


Mikhail Chekhov Riga Russian Theatre was one of the organizations that set an example. They brought to life a city tour, Riga Through the Eyes of Chekhov, that takes explorers on a journey to ten locations that uncover Mikhail Chekhov’s time in Latvia.


Participants had to follow a map and find an AR board at various locations. Once the board was scanned, details of the object’s history and its importance for Mr Chekhov were revealed. This proved to be a superb opportunity for theater lovers to stay active and enjoy cultural participation during the lockdown. 


BTW, Mikhail Chekhov is a world-famous actor, director, and teacher for those who may not know. He once roamed the city’s streets and inspired local talent just the same as his numerous Hollywood student actors, including Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and Clint Eastwood.


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I hope this blog gave you some insight into experiential marketing in the context of augmented reality. Majority of AR experiences are truly experiential, so the list of examples could go on forever.


If you think I should add anything to the above selection, leave a comment below. Same if you have any questions on the topic. Also, if you need any help with planning an AR marketing campaign, you can explore planning tips and download a printable template here.

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