June 02, 2017
In-person brand experiences -- including live events, trade shows, sponsorships, virtual and hybrid events, exhibits, and popups -- are becoming more popular among marketers and brand managers, according to a new survey by event-marketing and production company Freeman.

According to the survey of nearly 1,000 marketing professionals, more than two-thirds agree that "brand experience" is an effective way to reach their organizations' goals, and many plan to increase spending on brand-experience marketing in the future.

Chief marketing officers are particularly receptive to event marketing: Six in 10 of them (59 percent) said brand experience is a good way to create ongoing relationships with key audiences, nearly half (48 percent) said it's a good way to showcase thought leadership, and more than 58 percent said it delivers strong impact in terms of connecting audiences to brands and increasing advocacy. Furthermore, more than one-third said they expect to increase spending on brand experience marketing to between 21 and 50 percent of their marketing budget over the next three to five years.

However, brand-experience marketing still has room to grow: The top three tactics marketers are using to drive brand experience today remain traditional -- through websites (58 percent), social media (57 percent) and email marketing (51 percent) -- and immersive technologies have yet to gain ground. Although 31 percent of Asian companies are using virtual reality, for instance, just 7 and 9 percent are using it in North America and Western Europe, respectively. Likewise, 22 percent of Asian companies are using gamification compared with only 9 percent and 13 percent in North America and Western Europe.

"The role of brand experience continues to increase in scope and importance, as audience expectations evolve," said Chris Cavanaugh, executive vice president and CMO at Freeman. "Steep competition, changing demographics and more sophisticated audiences mean now, more than ever, marketers need new approaches. The right brand experiences have the power to evolve brands, build relationships and inspire action. Our new research helps us understand brand experience as a medium of the future."