As human beings, there are few things as powerful as connection to other human beings, authentic emotions, and a sense of camaraderie and being accepted by a group of people. Brands have a similar opportunity in the marketing world. We believe brands should be wielding the power of emotion to draw people in and make them lifelong brand fanatics.
A recent research study * delves into understanding how emotions are tied to experiences, how best to integrate emotions, and how to design brand experiences around them. They surveyed 2000+ experience seekers at 15 different types of events over the course of many months. The results were mostly universal, regardless of demographics or psychographics. The age groups were categorized as 18-24 (likely Gen Z), 25-34 (Millennials), and 35+ (Gen X, Baby Boomers, and everyone else).
The report identified four primary emotional need states that drive people to seek our experiences and events: release, enrichment, belonging, and identity.
Release was voted highest on average by all three age groups (87% average of people surveyed) as the reason why people seek out experiences. Events and experiences are an escape from our daily lives. They help us let go, have fun, de-stress. Despite the common phenomenon these days of holding up cell phones to take photos or record experiences, most people are truly present in the moment and find joy in sharing that moment with other fans of the experience.
For example, Volkswagen presented “The Fun Theory,” which was concept based on the idea that “fun is the easiest way to change people’s behavior for the better.” They transformed stairs in a subway into a piano, which encouraged people to use the stairs rather than the escalator, simple because it was a more fun experience.
The second largest emotional need state was identified as enrichment, encompassing 57% of the answers on average. People go to events to discover or learn something new. They seek personal growth through knowledge and experiences. They want to get creative and experiment with new ideas. Experiences enrich our lives.
For example, at SXSW 2017, Gatorade created the Gatorade Combine experience. It consisted of stations that tested athletic abilities, such as reflexes, jumping, and flexibility. The results were shared with the participants, who could then actually incorporate the information into their lives through workouts, diets. etc. “In addition to being entertaining, experiential marketing is all the more impactful when it offers something of actual value to the consumer, whether it be a free product or newfound knowledge” (Source).
According to the people surveyed, 50% on average stated the reason they attend events and experiences is to feel a sense of belonging. They want acceptance from others as a member of a group with common interests. They have a shared passion or mindset with the people around them.
For example, Delta airlines partnered with Tinder, the dating app, for the Delta Dating Wall experience. They painted iconic monuments, historical buildings, and exotic locales on a wall in Brooklyn so people could take selfies in front of them to post on their dating app profile. They maintained that world travelers are more attractive and more likely to garner interest from other single people on the apps. It was a fun way to explore the idea of belonging to a community of travelers or even a community of single daters in New York City.
People also seek out events and experiences to establish their sense of identity. They seek to discover their own beliefs, values, traditions, and personal qualities through these experiences.
For example, Refinery29’s 29Rooms experience returned in 2018 to New York City. The experience encourages participants to “Expand your reality” as you discover 29 different rooms by 29 different artists with thought-provoking designs and ideas. A person seeking out this type of experience just might find connections to their own identity, values, and beliefs sprinkled throughout the exhibit.
As you begin to sketch out your next experiential marketing program, consider the four emotional need states of release, enrichment, belonging, and identity. Consider who your target audience is and what drives them emotionally to get the most satisfaction out of an event and become a fanatic for your brand.
Ready to work with Pro Motion on your next experiential marketing program? Give us a call today!