It was 1968 – 50 years ago – when toymaker Mattel launched its Hot Wheels brand. Baby Boomers and members of Gen X may recall one or more of “The Original 16” cars it first introduced. Since then, Hot Wheels has demonstrated staying power. The brand remains a shining light for Mattel amid the turbulent toy retail market. In fact, of the company’s four main brands, Hot Wheels was only one of two to end 2017 in the black. And, it’s not surprising when considering the brand’s marketing, such as experiential marketing events, to ensure its toys remain relevant.
For instance, in February, Hot Wheels brought fun for both kids and parents at the Canadian International Autoshow. Among its activations were six “life-sized Hot Wheels-inspired vehicles,” including one of the original 16 releases, and a large, custom-built track that depicted Canadian landscapes. There was a social media giveaway, encouraging consumers to post an image of their experience with custom hashtags. There was also a contest in which one winner would have his or her own die-cast model produced. The brand further filled the needs of multiple generations by hosting a kids’ Play Zone, as well as a special collector’s meetup for those who’ve enjoyed the brand longer.
At a time when experiential marketing seems to cater to Millennials and the younger Gen Z, Hot Wheels shows the value of these initiatives for people of all ages. Other brands can follow suit and make connections with anyone regardless of their age or demographic.
Many brands, like Hot Wheels, have timeless products or those that can appeal to a wide variety of people. Others pertain only to certain segments. But, it doesn’t matter where your audience falls. Brand activations can reach them all.
Online ads are proving less and less effective, with 65% of people “skipping” them. And, not everyone, particularly Gen Z, appreciates email, unless communications are personalized. Instead, the one way to reach everyone is through experiential marketing. Here are three reasons why.
A study sought to measure the difference between happiness from material purchases and that of an experience. At first, there was a tie. But, as time passed, satisfaction with the material good declined, while that with the experience increased. Material goods tend to fade “in the background” and become “the new normal.” Yet, an experience becomes ingrained into “our identity.” As Dr. Thomas Gilovich, Cornell University psychology professor, puts it, “We are the sum total of our experiences.”
Yet, we identify this desire for an experience with our younger consumers since we know that’s how 78% of millennials prefer to spend their money. But, did you know Baby Boomers also have this preference? This group has reached a point in their lives where they feel their time is limited and they want experiences. They’re checking items off their bucket lists. They account for nearly half of Americans’ vacation dollars. Knowing this, brands who expand experiential marketing events to Baby Boomers can benefit. The American Association of Retired Professionals (AARP) has long known this. That’s why it offers experiential marketing events, like “late night disco parties” and “high-tech virtual experiences.” And it is worth mentioning that this segment controls 70% of all disposable income.
One reason Millennials crave experiences is due to the ability to create bonds and strengthen relationships, adding to their happiness. In fact, a Harris Poll finds “79% of millennials feel that going to live events with family and friends help deepen their relationships.” This is also a selling point for Gen X.
A Forbes article reports 56 million Americans live in multi-generational homes. And, Gen X parents and siblings are at the “epicenter.” Many are raising Gen Z and have parented millennials, too. They are “caring for family members on both sides of the generational divide,” which shows their deep devotion to kin. Smart brands are catering experiential marketing events to reach everyone in the family and help bring them closer. It should come as no surprise that brands like LEGO and Nintendo – brands that have also withstood the test of time – are among them. Yet, the benefit of getting close through events is not only within families. It brings brands and consumers together, too.
Experiential marketing events let brands show authenticity. Event staff share brand stories, give transparent product demos and have two-way conversations. The sincerity is important to all consumers, but especially to 18-21 year-olds, as surveyed by Yes Lifecycle Marketing. This may be inherent from Gen X parents, who place quality above all else. So, making it standard practice to be authentic will pay off as our youngest consumers come into disposable income in the future.
Not only do consumers want a wonderful experience, they want one that’s personalized. This leaves brands crunching data to try to find the best ways to please consumers and in the most efficient manner for their resources. But consumers want “exclusive content and VIP treatments.” And, in this case, experiential marketing events provide a streamlined means to deliver what everyone wants.
Millennials are driving the demand for personalization. And Gen X and Baby Boomers are looking for a quality product at a good price. This makes digital offers or giveaways a huge draw. At the same time, brands must raise the bar to stand out. And, therefore, marketers shouldn’t write off out-of-the-box experiences in favor of monetary discounts. Personalized products, such as custom denim at a Ralph Lauren event, or personalized keepsakes, such as photos from GE’s 2017 Super Bowl experience, can add to an experience and show genuine interest in consumers as individuals.
At Elevate, we supply the event staff you need to make these connections. Contact us to discuss the goal of your experiential marketing event.