This year I made a promise to myself. Each week I would try something new that expanded my view and forced me to step out of my comfort zone in some way. In other words, I would become a collector of experiences. At first I started small, trying out new restaurants and then I moved into bigger things. I learned to surf one week. The next week I had dinner with a Buddhist monk in a Buddhist monastery. I tried out capoeira. I had my astrological chart read. I went to a saloon jazz club on my own. Each experience expanded my view and helped me grow as a strategist and a marketer.
As marketers, it is important for us to be able to empathize with multiple, diverse audiences. We need to understand their mind-set, their goals, their challenges and their lifestyle in order to shift perceptions and to help our clients’ brands resonate. In other words, we need to connect to our target audience’s lifestyle in a way that fits into their natural behaviors.
Here are some strong examples of connecting target audience interests to brand experience in unexpected industries:
Sephora Sensorium recognized the need to connect the importance of scent with the value of tactile experiences. The “pop-up” museum set in the fashion-oriented meat-packing district of Manhattan mixed education and entertainment in an appealing manner for their fashion-conscious key target audience.
To promote itself in reality life, online glasses retailer Warby Parker launched the Warby Parker Class Trip, an old yellow school bus retrofitted as a Warby Parker show room and taking a six-month cross-country road trip to nine cities. The pop-up shop is decked out to bring the brand and its vintage-inspired mode of transportation with a contemporary twist aesthetic to life for their hipster target.
Aloft’s Play and Stay campaign connected their guests’ love of music, their passion for discovering new talent, and their excitement for live performances with emerging music talent. The campaign enabled Aloft to further solidify the brand’s image as a brand that “gets” and celebrates the lifestyle of their guests through helping them explore music and find cool new artists.
Connecting these dots is necessary for marketers to generate brand engagement and ultimately, loyalty. This approach remains especially important among harder-to-reach targets. For example, adidas needed to address the fact that sales of running shoes in France among its hard-to-reach target demographic of 14-to-19-year-olds were down. Through research they learned that not only did this target not like to run, but they were also so uninterested that they weren’t even trying on the shoe and were definitely not purchasing them. However, they also learned that this was an audience that loved action movies. Traditional ad campaigns weren’t resonating, but an out-of-the-box experience might. Partnering with Sid Lee, adidas realized the need to connect this love of action movies to the young audience’s Climacool shoes and created an experience that gave teenagers in France a reason to run — by making them the hero of their very own Mission Impossible-esque adventure. And the results show the success of focusing on the experience: adidas saw a 500 percent jump in Climacools tried during the campaign.
So whether it’s adventure or astrology, it’s important for marketers to expand the brand experience. The only way to do this is to develop a real understanding of the target audience. So what are you planning on doing first? Maybe it’s time for that skydiving lesson, ceramics class or trip to the Cézanne exhibit.
Judy Abel is the planning director at gyro New York.
Follow her @tuffyabel