4 Industries to Watch in Experiential Marketing This Year

It’s common to hear how exhibitors blew attendees away at the annual Consumer Electronics Show. However, this year, the spotlight was on an unlikely company: John Deere. The heavy equipment manufacturer is integrating technology into its products – a fact not obvious to most, making CES a perfect forum to generate awareness.

So, to draw a crowd with whom to share its story, John Deere parked a giant, iconic green combine in the expo hall. People came and stayed for interactive displays that demonstrated John Deere’s technology leadership. But that wasn’t all. Outside the convention center, the company held demos of its self-driving tractor. And brand ambassadors were on-site to explain how it works.

Experiential marketing isn’t new to John Deere. The company, for more than 15 years, has attested to the power of immersive marketing initiatives that get people “on top” of the equipment. Countless brands have followed suit in engaging their audiences, too. Their goals may be like those of John Deere’s, getting their products in consumers’ hands or creating awareness. No matter, due to its proven success in building connections and making sales, experiential marketing isn’t slowing.

In fact, a recent AgencyEA study finds “92% of brand-side marketers feel that integrating events and experiences is imperative.” Their activations are growing and changing in scope. And this is giving other brands experiential marketing ideas to make their own mark. Already this year, we’ve seen standout activations from our usual suspects, as well as from industries previously underrepresented. It’s an exciting time to not only be an active participant, but to witness the creativity at work and the connections made.


These Industries Will Provide the Year’s Best Experiential Marketing Ideas

Watch these unexpected industries in 2019 for some of the best in experiential marketing ideas.

1. Healthcare.

The MM&M/Deloitte Consulting Healthcare Marketers Trend Report for 2019 indicates a new day in healthcare marketing. Its data shows “the growing connectivity between patients and providers is remaking healthcare.” In turn, “human experience” becomes the core of all efforts. Specifically, marketers are “turning data and platforms and untested abstractions into resonant content and brand engagement.” This is a far cry from age-old initiatives. But it’s a change many healthcare companies are embracing fast with experiential marketing.

Experiential marketing makes it possible to engage with consumers one-on-one, establish credibility, and build bonds. For 2019, we’ll see more of the same from such heavy hitters as Kaiser Permanente and Humana. The former continues to sponsor Major League Baseball and host yoga sessions in the outfield after scheduled games this summer. This is among other varied activations that speak to people of all ages. The latter continues to execute pop-up guidance centers at sponsored events for senior citizens. And, as always, it will bring support and fun to runners of the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon series. But experiential marketing isn’t only for the “big dogs.”

For example, LetsGetChecked, a medical technology startup, hosted a pop-up lab late last year. Its purpose was to create awareness and provide education. Specialists even administered complimentary tests on site. And, due to its success, it’s reported the brand will hold these labs every quarter. It’s safe to say we can expect more healthcare startups to engage target audiences with in-person initiatives.

Automotive experiential marketing ideas

2. Automotive.

The automotive industry is another that experienced a shift in its approach to marketing. It was last year when we saw more brands forgo use of “booth babes” at auto shows. This was in exchange for skilled event staff who could highlight their vehicles by providing the level of detail consumers are looking for. These auto brands have since sought to raise the bar with their own experiential marketing ideas.

One way we saw in 2018, that’s continued into this year, is use of the latest technology to instill a wow factor. Audi gave us a great example at the January’s Geneva Auto Show. There, it showed the future of in-vehicle entertainment for passengers – virtual reality using Oculus headsets. Yet, auto brands are also keeping it low tech and getting results. At the Chicago Auto Show, which set out to broaden its attendee demographics, exhibitors obliged by thinking outside the box. For instance, Ford erected a rope bridge that stretched over its Ranger line of trucks. And, Chevrolet helped kids and adults build its models out of LEGO sets.

These same brands and others will step outside the expo hall more often to engage potential buyers. They also host exclusive events to ensure brand loyalty among current customers. In February, Nissan gathered 20 of its “super fans” for four days of outdoor adventures using their Titan trucks. For the campaign, it partnered with Marmot clothing brand, which supplied outerwear and engaged its audiences to extend Nissan’s reach (and vice versa). Expect innovative strategies like this from other auto brands as we move further into 2019.

3. Fitness.

In February, the majority shareholder of long-standing chain of fitness centers, Gold’s Gym, announced its decision to retain the brand. There is too much value in the brand and too much opportunity. In fact, the U.S. health and fitness industry is valued at $30 billion, growing at least three-to-four percent each year for the past ten. And, this doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon.

But, with consumer demand comes more options, with boutique studios and traditional gyms on every corner. And, it doesn’t stop there. Fitness wear, from apparel to fitness trackers, have become a way of life. This means fitness brands must find a way to standout among the crowd. And like health food brands, it’s no surprise they’re finding experiential marketing the way to do it.

When Huawei launched its Smart Watch 2.0, it executed an extreme running event to show off its capabilities. Fitness wear brand Next UK recently held a two-day pop-up shop to highlight its new collection, but not without games, prizes, and inspiration. And, at this year’s SXSW, fellow fitness wear brand Lululemon is taking a different approach with its “SweatLife House.” The goal is to solidify its standing as a “wellness lifestyle brand” by hosting over 40 fitness classes, among other events, without sale of its apparel.

The fitness industry shows us the diversity of experiential marketing ideas to accomplish their goals. Keep your eyes open for other standout activations as fitness brand marketers combine minds with muscle.

Tetley's experiential campaign in Manchester

4. Health Food.

A Forbes article recounts the recent “shock waves through the food industry” regarding CPG giant Kraft Heinz. The company known for such brands as Velveeta, Kool-Aid, and Jell-O has written down the value of some of its “well-known brands by $15.4 billion.” It then experienced a near 25% drop in shares. One of its major downfalls per the article was its “failure to follow the changing consumer trends.” They have missed the opportunity to show commitment to the health of consumers and their families. This is while hundreds of other brands are doing the opposite.

For the years 2013-2017, Nielsen reports almost 90% of new food products on grocery shelves came from small to medium-sized companies. Another Forbes article points out the challenges these startups have to get consumers’ attention and win them over. They have the high-quality ingredients consumers seek, as well as the passion. It’s just finding the right means to provide transparency. And, experiential marketing has fast become just that.

Yet, with more competing brands and noise in the market, it’s become necessary to hit the streets and engage as many people as possible, while making an impact in the process. Companies like Tetley know what it takes. The long-standing tea brand, after obtaining the approval of European Food Safety Authority for its “Super” teas, targeted three locations to engage with passersby. The company had the right brand ambassadors in these areas to educate consumers and provide samples over a five-week period. Look for health food brands to integrate themselves into those places where we live, work, and play this year.

At Elevate, we are proud to provide brands in these industries and others the staff they need to stand out. Learn how our people can make all the difference to your experiential marketing ideas.

Author: Nick Riggall


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