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In-Store Experiential Marketing: Understanding Your Customers

Sport Check Tunnel Entrance

Source: CNW Group/FGL Sports Ltd.

This is the first installment in our Delivering Exceptional Experiential Marketing series.

In-store experiential marketing, which gives consumers the opportunity to experience a brand firsthand, is more than just a trend. In a recent study by WD Partners, 75% of consumers value the sensory experience of shopping, which makes experiential marketing a priority for retailers in satisfying evolving customer demands. Experiential marketing engages consumers by letting them interact with a product to realize its benefits, which contributes to more confident purchasing decisions and increased brand loyalty.

But what makes a good in-store experiential marketing program? In our first installment, we examine two experiential marketing campaigns from retailers that clearly understand their customers.

Sport Chek: An Immersive In-Store Experience

Sport Chek, Canada’s largest retailer of sporting goods, recently opened its 80,000 square foot store at West Edmonton Mall, which gives customers unique and engaging experiences using digital installations. Interactive screens throughout the store showcase inspirational sporting moments, which generate positive emotions towards the retailer, and sales associates equipped with tablets are able to quickly provide product information or address inquiries. Customers are invited to try out equipment that tracks their performances using radars and cameras, thereby allowing them to customize the products and determine personal fit.

However, Sport Chek understands that their customers care about more than just technology—they want an immersive sporting experience. This is why the main entrance is modeled after a stadium tunnel, thereby allowing customers to experience the exhilaration of entering a major sports venue as soon as they set foot in the store. Community walls are set up to inform customers about local sports events they care about and could sign-up for. Store associates are equipped to answer questions about local sporting events, running routes or sports leagues.  All designed to get the consumer involved.  From technology to store design and community involvement, Sport Chek understands the significance of sports in their customers’ lives and tailors their in-store experience to address this passion from multiple tiers.

When creating your own in-store experiential marketing strategy:

  • Understand the passion behind the purchase: Sport Chek used interactive screens and equipment to help customers experience exciting sporting moments—what sort of emotions will inspire your customers to try your product?
  • Sport Chek uses a community wall to inform customers of local sporting events and encourage interaction with sales associates—what relevant information or tips can you offer to your customers?
  • Sport Chek’s immersive in-store experience starts from the entrance and stretches to the back room: what design features can you use to make a big first impression on customers and encourage them to explore?

IKEA: Listen To Your Customers

IKEA invited 100 U.K. Facebook fans to a sleepover at their store, complete with goodies like massages, snacks, and a live reading of a bedtime story by a celebrity. On-site sleep experts provided sleeping and health tips, and IKEA associates put in extra hours to ensure that the customers went to bed happy. Beyond pampering customers, IKEA invited customers to try their mattresses and bedding sets, and covered the entire event on video and social media. The after-hours event took service to the next level by allowing customers to see first-hand how IKEA products can contribute to a great experience that could be recreated in your own home.

Here’s the twist: IKEA’s sleepover event was born from a fan-created Facebook group called “I wanna have a sleepover in IKEA”. After fans of the page reached the 100,000 mark, IKEA granted their wish and was rewarded with enormous social media coverage that cemented IKEA as a retailer that cared about their customers. The successful sleepover event, which has since been hosted in Australia and Hong Kong, illustrates a case of experiential marketing dictated by customers.

When creating your own in-store experiential marketing strategy:

  • Use your social media channels to source ideas for your experiential marketing campaign
  • Think about other ways of understanding customer demand, such as through online surveys distributed with a receipt or newsletter, or through your loyalty program

Understanding customers and knowing what they want is the foundation of all successful retail experiential marketing campaigns. Instead of investing purely in technology, use targeted strategies built on proven customer demand.


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