Experiential marketing: 10 strategic ideas for Christmas

Experiential marketing: 10 strategic ideas for Christmas

The Christmas season is upon us and for many, the festive spending frenzy marks the biggest time of year for most marketers. So how do you make the most of your spend and standout for the world’s most celebrated occasion? Great holiday marketing campaigns come in all shapes and sizes, but they all have one thing in common. They delight customers.

Delivering an immersive brand experience that evokes emotions creates a stronger lasting impression compared to traditional channels. Stimulating connections turns your customers into brand advocates and promotes social sharing, initiating a chain reaction to your marketing efforts. Check out our 10 strategic tips to help your brand shine this holiday season.  

Defining your experiential concept

1. Understand cultural differences

First and foremost, it is essential to understand what really matters to your audience when building your experiential campaign. What do your customers like about Christmas? Why is it important for them? What can your brand offer to your audience during this festive period? It is even more important to understand your audience’s expectations if you target a multicultural market like Hong Kong where Asian and Western people live together and share different customs. Depending on their culture, their perception of Christmas, the way they celebrate it and their desires might not be the same.

2. Get in the Christmas spirit and delight your customers

When building your creative concept, always keep the themes of the holiday season in mind; generosity, family, magic of Christmas… Last year in Hong Kong, Landmark built a Christmas experience that put these three elements together with the Wishing machine. This amazing installation showcased 80 Santa Paws teddy bears working to make your dreams come true. Visitors could fill in a Christmas wish token and insert it into the wishing machine. For every token received, Landmark made a HK$20 donation to the charity.

Landmark Hong Kong - Experiential marketing for Christmas

3. Be generous

Experiential marketing aims to bring brands to life and to immerse consumers into their universe. One of the best ways to do is to give a taste of your brand with product testing, live demos or giveaways. As many brands will be offering Christmas deals, give some extra love by giving away products and gifts and by delivering a memorable brand experience. Offer something relevant, that your target audience will appreciate or find useful. Generosity was at the heart of the WestJet’s ‘Christmas Miracle’ campaign. While they were waiting to board, a Santa Claus asked the flight passengers what they would like for Christmas. Their wish came true when the customers went to pick up they baggage and found the gifts they asked.

4. Initiate nostalgia through the senses

Stimulating customers’ five senses is a must in experiential marketing and it is even more important during the Christmas season. Splashes of red and gold, aromas of cinnamon and spice, and curtains of snow can transform any canvas into a festive wonderland. Check out how the bank PNC played the sensory card by building a bank branch made out of gingerbread !

5. Make Christmas even more magical with virtual reality

Senses and emotions can also be stimulated with virtual reality. This rising technology can propel your experiential campaigns to a bold new level (download our white paper ‘Virtual reality and augmented reality: the future of immersive marketing ) and deliver a truly immersive Christmas brand experience. This is what TGI Friday did last year. The restaurant offered its customers a virtual dog sledge trip in Lapland (where Santa Claus lives) for Christmas. Using a Oculus headset, diners were whisked to a beautiful snow-filled fantasy without leaving their table.

6. Be quick

Take into consideration the state of mind of your customers: Christmas is a very busy period and your audience might not have the time or patience for advertising campaigns. Make every second counts. Make sure your message is simple yet efficient, and deliver such a good brand experience that people will be willing to stop by.

7. Make your brand experience visible

With so many brands fighting for your audience’s attention, it’s important to pick to right channels and timing carefully. Pop-up stores are great around the shopping areas where consumers will be scrambling to buy holiday gifts, but it can also be quite costly. Alternatively, take advantage of the countless celebrations around town (holiday fairs, Christmas parties or festivals like the Hong Kong WinterFest) where you can reach your target audience in the festive mood. Guerrilla marketing with a mobile brand experience can be a highly visible yet savvy solution to engage your audience. Leading up to Christmas last year, we bought the much-loved Nutella spread to life with a “breakfast of champions” food trike touring popular Hong Kong family hotspots attracting consumers to sample the creative breakfast options and drive conversations on social media.  

Make sure you’re social

Social media amplification should be a key component for all experiential campaigns to reach a wider audience and maximise exposure. With 4.8 million active social media users in Hong Kong, occupying 66% of the total population*, social media amplification can be very powerful.

1. Choose your social media platform

First of all, pick the most appropriate social media platform. For instance, Facebook and Instagram are great platforms to share photos and find inspiration while Twitter is a popular platform to share event content. Other platforms which are often overlooked can also be useful, such as Snapchat or live stream social media (Meerkat, Periscope or Bigo Live in Asia) that can be relevant to a live brand experience. The choice of social media platform will also depend on who and where your audience is. In Hong Kong, the most popular social media platforms are: Facebook (50%), WeChat (24%) and Instagram (17%)*.

2. Create and share social media content

Only 35% of brands always capture or create content related to their experiential marketing activation (EventTrack Report 2016). Make social media a full component of your brand experience by:

Announcing the event on your social media platforms. Publishing live posts during the experiential activation. Publish photos and video of the event (consumers who view a video are 1.81x more likely to purchase than non-viewers***).

3. Encourage your customers to share your event

There are different ways to boost social media sharing and bring your brand experience online:

Provide sharable content: pictures with photo booths, photo walls, a visual installation and unique experience that customers will want to capture with photos or videos and share. According to EventTrack**, nearly all consumers create or capture content at events and all consumers that create content share it. Encourage your customers to share their experience online with dedicated hashtags and an incentive (chance to win a product of your brand or a special Christmas present). KOLs can also contribute to the success and visibility of your campaigns.

Looking for holiday inspiration? Get in touch with our team (info@whycatalyst.com) to discuss your experiential marketing ideas.

*We Are Social and GlobalWebIndex

**Event Track report 2016

***Video statistics released by Invodo