Experiential Pleasures

It’s been a summer of experiential love for our London and Truro teams and clients this year. Whilst we have seen high levels of direct brand-in-hand sampling in our consumer lives, the value of putting storytelling at the heart of an experience has never had more value – as our 40+ event executions in the last few months attest to.

We’ve built New York style bagel shops, set up and run a “Ricetaurant” (where the clue is in the name), delivered vegetarian cooking masterclasses, shaped provenance led brand theatre, and fuelled fitness and vitamin workshops. And in every case the talkability and the noise around the brand owners has been significant.

We still see the benefits of traditional sampling. Almost every day we pick up new products, old favourites, and seasonal varieties through handouts on the street, at events or in supermarkets. Yet, while trial has strong numbers-based value, sampling can suffer from a lack of place, context or energy. It’s a bit grab-and-go when people increasingly want to like brands and what they stand for beyond just the products themselves. The risk is tried today, forgotten tomorrow when we are assailed with marketing messages.

If sampling is upgraded into something more experiential then we get to hit home on messaging, buzz and a story.

Which means a Ricestaurant has a genuine reason for being, based as it was, on the food trend of less recipe reliance, more what’s in the fridge cookery free styling – and, of course, the relevance of a core base product from Tilda on which to creatively build. Rounded theatre, a news trend and visual execution combo for media to write about and social influencer ‘I tried this because …’ currency.

It means when we build a bagel shop, it’s not just about sampling (although that was a key part) but about a New York Bakery Co challenge to families to see how they can reboot boring and standard breakfasts. A mix and match sharing table gave fresh impetus to the way too unequal (in terms of share-of-mind) third main meal of the day. Reasons to believe and everyday insights to shift behaviour, alongside new serve combinations.

And it means for Ginsters, bringing the Cornish essence of the brand to life. Through a multi-sensory ‘BIG picnic’, co-hosted by the company MD and the acclaimed chef behind its NPD innovations, and fed by the sounds of the sea through personal headsets – recorded live in Cornwall of course – we showcased pride, passion and provenance, as well as getting the product tried, sampled and discussed.

And sampling and attendees aside, for these events alone we pulled in almost 200 media guests for the days we were open, and partnered with spot-on brand influencers as integrated sparks in the story.

So, if you want hearts and minds as well as hands and stomachs – plus retail partner awareness of your brands in action – think about sampling and trial in terms of earned and owned channels, as well as paid and promotional. A fully integrated creative perhaps, as opposed to what might be more classically tactical.