The Evolution of Experiential Marketing

The Evolution of Experiential Marketing



As EventTrack announced the results of its 2018 annual research report on experiential marketing, I was inundated with articles on its power. ‘91% of consumers say they have more positive feelings about brands after attending events and experiences,’(EventTrack 2018). Rethink your strategy some said. Be part of this new trend, others said. For 2heads, this is nothing new. We have been working with experiential techniques for decades and all are clients have these principles at the heart of their strategy with us. But it did make me think about why?

When I founded 2heads Global Design in 1983, there was no augmented reality or Iphone’s, Mark Zuckerberg had yet to be born and computer’s had less power than the average calculator nowadays. Indeed, Apple released the LISA computer; the first commercial machine with GUI in the same year.

The world of B2B events marketing however was a buzzing, vibrant place. The 1980’s was a period of great advancement for marketing and advertising, with TV commercials paving the way for new product releases. Direct mail and cold calling were the way businesses targeted companies, and the Yellow Pages still stood as the ‘go to’ reference guide. The best (and only) way for business peers to meet was therefore via networking events and trade fairs/expos.

Building on the success of International World Fairs and legacies of shows such as the 1962 Consumer Technology Association trade fair in Las Vegas, new events arose to help companies take their products and services global. I have watched many achieve great things, Cannes Lions and Cannes Mipcom which were founded in 1954 and 1985 respectively; both still the forerunning events for advertising and media. Ebace in Geneva founded in 2000 which vies with the great Airshows in Paris, Singapore and Farnborough for aviation industry attention. Heli Expo, Mobile World Congress, MipIn, I have seen them all.

Experiential marketing really started to evolve for me in the Nineties, when we saw the rise of the Consumer Electronics Show. Though began in 1967, the technology boom propelled CES to the front, vying for attention with the E3 gaming show; a source of increasing competition. Their battle for market edge prompted event creators to take their exhibitions to new heights; to allow visitors to inhabit the services they offered; interact with their products in ways they never had before. Then came the show-stopper G2E in 2001 where visitors were propelled into real life casino environments, closely followed by EGX and ICE Totally Gaming in London.

The common theme they all had? The power to attract visitors and keep them coming back. Their understanding that face to face marketing does what no other marketing can. We in the industry knew that if you gave each visitor their own bespoke experience, it would in turn create a memory that can last forever, building a bond between that individual and the brand that engenders loyalty, trust and belief. In the nineties, these international events became, in essence, the beating heart of Experiential Marketing.

Since then trade shows and events have become more than a meeting/marketing place; they have become a portal to transport their clients into the heart of the product, a place to create the perfect advert for their product to be socially advertised across the world, an educational and debating forum. Indeed, they have become the central hubs of the very industries that they support. You just have to see the media frenzy building up to CES and CeBit in Hanover to know that live brand experiences here to stay and that they will also grow in importance for big business.

As the marketing industry evolved, so did 2heads. It wasn’t about keeping up with the times, it was about recognising what worked best for our clients and we knew even back in the 80’s that experiential marketing could demonstrate more value for those clients than any other impactful strategy. Get the environment right, inspire a visitor’s imagination and that personalised one on one experience will be more effective and generate more ROI for that client than any other marketing style.

The stats back this up. EventTrack stated that “85% of consumers are more likely to purchase a product or service after attending a live marketing event” and “77% of marketers use Experiential marketing as part of their brand’s advertising strategy.” At 2heads, we want to understand this phenomenon. Not just how, but why Experiential Marketing is so important. We are therefore commencing a study into the psychology and power of Experiential Marketing and what it means to industry, and will be collating our thoughts in a whitepaper which we hope to make available from Autumn.

If you are interested in learning more about how we push the boundaries of Experiential marketing, please contact Ally at