The marketing landscape has changed in most industries and automotive is no exception. Social media platforms have increasingly flooded our feeds with brand ads; streaming services now offering an ad-free way to watch TV; and billboards have become white noise to an audience consumed by their mobile devices.
In fact, in 2022, research firm Kantar found that 66% of consumers will skip or pay to avoid ads, 48% already use ad blockers and 45% simply don’t watch them (and probably shop on their mobiles instead).
For younger generations like millennials and Gen Z, the value of traditional marketing strategies like email, direct mail, sponsored advertisements, etc., has diminished. Therefore, automotive companies have a unique opportunity to engage with their target audience in a memorable and engaging way. The automotive sector leverages experiential marketing to establish connections with customers that go above and beyond those of social or digital marketing.
Wherever possible, an automotive brand should show rather than tell its audience by creating real-life experiences. Digital advertisements are not going to replace the feeling of actually experiencing your product in-person. Adding experiential marketing to your auto company’s overall marketing plan can make a huge difference. Studies have shown that this method of advertising can be just as effective as traditional methods.
OEMs are already allocating resources away from traditional marketing and toward more innovative forms of promotion, such as events. Increasingly, manufacturers are spending money on in-person promotions. During the next five years, marketing leaders are expected to devote as much as 50 percent of their marketing budgets to experiential initiatives. The goal of any successful experiential marketing strategy is to leave a lasting impression on consumers through the creation of memorable experiences. Experiential marketing is effective because it encourages positive word-of-mouth about the brand from real customers rather than the manufacturer itself.
It has been observed that experiential marketing is the most powerful form of advertising. It’s the most efficient strategy for converting consumers into buyers and advocates. It’s no surprise that after an experiential marketing event, the vast majority of attendees end up becoming regulars. Unlike other channels, experiential calls for participants’ active participation, which includes the use of all their senses.
Automobiles are such an important part of people’s lives and such a significant investment that it’s crucial that they have a pleasant, multisensory purchase and ownership experience. Pop-up bars with digital displays, auto shows with interactive wheel stands, and expos with product demos are all examples of experiences that allow businesses to connect with customers on an experiential level. Consumer senses are amplified by cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence (AI). Customers in any industry, but especially the automotive sector, would rather have a physical product in hand as opposed to a digital one. Instead of reading about the car, they want to take a test drive and see it for themselves.
Earned media, organic, or user-generated content, both contribute to the buzz surrounding any given marketing event. This anticipation, however, is amplified through experience marketing. Experiential advertising is the only method that can create a real stir. A recent survey found that nearly all consumers who participated in an event or experience shared the content on social media. Experiential marketing helps firms expand their reach and introduce their products to new consumers.
Porsche has established several Porsche Experience Centers around the world, including locations in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Leipzig, and Shanghai. These centers offer customers and enthusiasts the opportunity to experience the thrill of driving Porsche vehicles in a controlled environment. Visitors can participate in driving simulators, performance driving courses, off-road experiences, and even explore the brand’s heritage and technology through interactive exhibits. These centers allow Porsche to create a direct connection with customers and provide them with unforgettable driving experiences that reinforce the brand’s performance and engineering prowess. All while providing opportunities for user generated content and expanding the brand’s reach beyond the physical locations.
Another example, Cadillac partners with a renowned local chef or a popular restaurant to host an immersive culinary event. The event is designed to create a unique and memorable experience that showcases the brand’s luxury and sophistication while indulging attendees in an exquisite gastronomic journey. By organizing a Cadillac Culinary Event, the brand creates an intimate and unforgettable experience that combines luxury automobiles with fine dining, reinforcing its image as a sophisticated lifestyle brand and building stronger connections with its target audience.
Impressions made during immersive events and shows will remain in the minds of attendees for as long as they continue to reflect on the nature of their experience. Having an experience gives customers a sense of belonging, both personally and with a particular brand. The effects of all this are likely to linger in people’s minds long after they’ve finished their morning coffee and turned off the news.
The marketing industry is evolving. Nowadays, consumers can pick from a wider variety of options, so businesses must establish genuine connections with their clients if they hope to retain them. It is no longer adequate to merely bombard an audience with messages in the hopes that some will stick. Brands that prioritize the customer experience tend to have greater success. More and more automotive companies are experimenting with experiential marketing due to its proven success. It’s a tried and effective method for getting things done, and it works better than ever because of advancements in technology and shifts in mindset.