This is the Smartest Consumer Engagement Strategy

Is it possible that consumers find your brand’s marketing efforts…‘creepy’? Personalization is on the tip of every marketer’s tongue; it’s what modern consumers have come to expect. Yet, it seems many companies aren’t hitting the mark. A new study shows 75% of consumers “find many forms of marketing personalization at least somewhat creepy.” This means being invasive or making them feel like they’re “being stalked or watched.” Creepy can also mean asking for personal details that aren’t relevant to the brand or what it’s offering. And, oddly enough, 40% of brands “admit to being creepy.” So, what tactics should their consumer engagement strategy focus on?

The study finds consumers, “especially millennials,” want the freedom to decide “how they engage with a brand.” This may be digital, in-person, or likely a combination of both. Yet, marketers may be neglecting consumers’ rights to choose by assuming the “next new thing” is the best solution to engage with them. Alternatively, “consumers are most appreciative of the basics.” This means keeping promises. It also means “providing memorable and emotional experiences and making them feel valued.”

The Best Way to Deliver a Memorable, Emotional Experience

“Millennial” is practically synonymous with the word “experience.” An experience is a fundamental element in their relationship with brands. We’re told to believe the key to a good customer experience is in the data, and some of that is true. But, when we use data to personalize recommendations or make “interactions easier,” the study finds consumers “care less.” They’d rather have exclusive content and VIP treatments.

And, when brands ask for consumer data, but don’t reciprocate with things of perceived value, nearly half of people “hesitate” to supply their information. This makes for an awkward situation, and one that may not give either party what they want. Yet, at the end of the day, what consumers really want is the experience and, for brand marketers, the sale. So, the best way to ensure everyone wins is to make experiential marketing a large part of your consumer engagement strategy.

Experiential marketing gives a brand a unique opportunity to demonstrate authenticity. And, according to a February 2018 Forbes article, authenticity is “the secret sauce.” It’s what establishes emotional connections and creates relationships. “It’s what turns buyers into brand disciples.” 

2 Brands with the Secret Sauce (and the Disciples to Prove It)

Many companies can attest to the power of experiential marketing to make a memorable and positive impact on consumers. Here are two brands that use brand experiences as a regular consumer engagement strategy with success.


The sportswear company has almost 70 years under its current brand name of Adidas. It’s maintained a top position in its categories in Europe and U.S. through its ability to be a classic yet stay on trend at the same time. And, it’s done all of this hand-in-hand with its number one supporters – its consumers.

Adidas is known for its consumer engagement strategies, oftentimes involving consumers at product development. According to a senior VP, this collaboration is “an essential part” of the brand’s values and “has always translated” to its self-expression. He says, “We’re no longer talking at people. We’re having two-way conversations.” And, it recognizes smart opportunities to hold these conversations. One of these activations took place recently at the NBA All-Star 2018 event in Los Angeles, titled “747 Warehouse Street.”

This event, “dedicated to athletics and creative innovation,” served as a new segment of the brand’s “TLKS” series. Its panel featured four celebrities known for their creativity in diverse areas. These were Pharrell Williams, Karlie Kloss, Damian Lillard and Alexander Wang. The event hosted a series of concerts, attended by more than 20,000 people, as well as other installations. For example, educational activities focused on the brand and its evolution. And, celebrity basketball games and skills contests were held on a custom marbled court. There were also chances to buy exclusive Adidas products that launched that weekend. To do so, sneakerheads would need to enter a raffle by scanning their wristbands. Or, they could work with a team on-site to get custom footwear on the spot.

In the end, it didn’t matter if attendees were Adidas disciples, basketball fans, music enthusiasts or just looking for an experience. There was a memorable “something for everyone” at 747 Warehouse Street.


You may have already seen Lay’s new TV commercial. It shows several people smiling as they enjoy and share a bag of Lay’s chips in various settings. Yet, the key element is the Lay’s bag. When the actors hold it up over their mouths, the top part of the bag features their smiles, making the bag a continuation of their faces. This is one key component of the “Smile with Lay’s” campaign, but that is just the beginning.

Working with The Marketing Arm, Lay’s new consumer engagement strategy is comprehensive. It was born in consideration of the negative impact current events are having on U.S. residents who need a reason to smile. In fact, the brand researched and found nine out of 10 people “feel happy when they see someone smile.” The brand decided to embrace that emotional tie and to help everyone smile. Further, a part of the new bag’s purchases will benefit children born with cleft conditions, adding purpose to the campaign’s emotional aspect.

To get more personal with the campaign, outside of the TV ad, the brand activated a three-day pop-up experience in the heart of Times Square. It featured several rooms for different activities, such as a ball pit, a mechanical surfboard, an indoor swing and a jumbo Mr. Potato Head with removable parts. It also included a 360-degree camera that captured visitors in slow-motion amid blasts of confetti. The best part was they could share the footage online with friends, extending Lay’s reach beyond the event footprint.

The snack brand has always been on the forefront of consumer engagement with its “Do Us a Flavor” contest. But, its combination of experiential marketing, cause marketing, and traditional advertising that puts them on another level in providing value to consumers.

The Most Critical Elements of Any Consumer Engagement Strategy

It may seem brands only need a clever idea or a massive budget to create a memorable or emotional experience. But, the truth is, success lies in strategic elements in every activation. To ensure optimal consumer engagement with experiential marketing, consider the following:

1. Technology

When you consider the Adidas and Lay’s activations above, the campaign would not be possible without incorporating event tech. Technology automates check in, enters attendees into raffles and to secures content for social sharing. These functions and others enable a streamlined experience or an element of fun – something that brings consumers value. Evaluating event technology platforms should be a primary component during event ideation.

And remember – in many cases, technology can be incorporated a la carte, or used creatively. You don’t need the most expensive option out there. There are several cost-effective options to choose from that can help you achieve your goals. One example is incorporating touchscreens. This easy-to-use, inexpensive technology can be used strategically to aid in consumer experience, or as a tool for your event staff to gather attendee info faster and with improved accuracy.

2. Event Staffing

The people on the front lines of your experiential marketing activation are hands-down your most critical asset. Your event staff personify your brand to give it the “secret sauce.” They are entrusted to bring your plans to life by creating a memorable or emotional experience. And, they can even close the sale on-site, helping to realize your goals. Having the right people representing you is one of the most important choices you will make. Partnering with an event staffing agency helps brands ensure they have people on site with the expertise necessary to turn everyday consumers into brand disciples.

At Elevate, our goal is to provide the best possible consumer experience to meet your goals. Our proprietary event staffing methodology and technology helps us match the right people to your brand for the best event results.


Experiential Marketing Ideas from Iconic Entertainment Franchises, Why Nostalgia Marketing Works, & What the Olympics Can Teach Us About Live Events (Elevate Connect)


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