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Netflix and Chill or Museum of Ice Cream? In the last few years, we’ve seen an increase in immersive branded experiences and interactive pop-ups like the Museum of Ice Cream, Saved by the Max Diner, Refinery29’s 29Rooms, Gilmore Girls’ Luke’s Diner Pop-ups, and more. And perhaps for good reason—in our recent TBH survey on Branded Experience, 77% of respondents said they would prefer to attend an event experience over hanging out at home, so this trend isn’t going away just yet.

Through our survey, we wanted to get at the heart of these experiences: Does it actually increase brand affinity? Why do people go? Is it really only for the ‘gram? Spoiler alert: Instagram matters, but we also found that the days of a logo slap and a ball pit masquerading as an “experience” could be on their way out. Consumers want more.

Keep these three tenants in mind as you develop your experiential marketing strategy:

GIVE ‘EM WHAT THEY WANT…KNOWLEDGE       

Instagrammable moments are table stakes now, hearts and minds are where brand partners can stand out. 69% of our respondents stated a desire to go to an event experience that teaches them something, and 70% declared they wanted an experience that is not only interactive but immersive as well. We had one respondent who said the #1 reason they attended an event was, “To see new things, learn new cultures.”

When asked how branded experiences made respondents feel about the brand, 74% said the experience made them like the brand more. 82% said that when they go to an event or experience, they notice the brand sponsoring the event or activation, signifying a high awareness of the brand as a result of event experiences.

Here at Fullscreen, we’ve seen this come to life. We create events that are built with intent, designed to immerse the fan and lead them through a meaningful experience that is synonymous with the brand. For the first two seasons of AT&T Hello Lab’s scripted drama, Guilty Party, Fullscreen designed events that integrated the show’s narrative throughout the experience, alongside the influencer talent who actually played the characters in the show. The event was so vivid that fans broke out in tears of joy and had responses like “It felt like I actually fit in somewhere.” We placed such importance on the activation within the marketing of the show that it’s now part of our story, another tentacle of the show that is part and parcel to the entertainment.

A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS… AND ALSO THE COST OF ADMISSION

While it seems that fans want deeper connections from the event as a whole than what a simple photo booth can offer, we can’t ignore the power of Instagram as a tool for digital extension of in-person experiences. 80% of our respondents said they were highly likely to post on social media when attending an event, with 74% considering Instagram opportunities still “very important” for brands to include. Respondents called Instagrammable opportunities “cool” and “fun,” with less than 10% associating photo opps with negative describers like “stupid” or “annoying.”

As you can imagine, producing an experiential activation that wows the attendee with visuals (63% appreciated events that are visually pleasing), immerses them fully, and leaves them with something learned can be a tough needle to thread, but there are agency partners that are up for the challenge. Brand experience agency, CRONY Creative, was co-founded by an architectural designer, Ryan Ho, and their aim is to design experiences that are both intentional and illuminating for guests. This was evident with their launch event for the YouTube series, Unsolved, which wove plot throughout the event, teaching the attendees about the show at every turn.

The future of experiential is in expertly designed, immersive experiences that not only engage the senses but invite fans to be a part of a larger story, creating the experience alongside the brand. In this case, it is the thought that counts.

Click here to download this study.

*Fullscreen research conducted 12/18/18-1/15/19 among 472 18-34-year-olds.