Recently, Blue Apron announced a series of pop-up events that will be happening nationwide. These include a retail location in New York with cooking classes and panels, mobile activations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle, and culinary-inspired movie nights in Minneapolis, Dallas, and Austin.
Like many other direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands, Blue Apron recognized that its business model has some limitations and is incorporating experiential into its marketing strategy to increase awareness and reach while creating a community around the brand.
Experiential Marketing Fuels Emotional Connections
The brand-consumer relationship is no longer simply transactional. Consumers want to be able to see themselves in a brand that shares their mindset and philosophy. While many DTC brands have excelled at building communities around their brand, others recognize that limited physical engagement with consumers is a challenge to growth. The solution? Immersive, real-life experiences.
Away, the popular direct-to-consumer luggage brand, now regularly hosts pop-up stores dedicated to the art of luxury travel. Meanwhile, trendsetting online Italian footwear brand, M.Gemi, launched a mobile boutique that serves up shoes with a side of gelato, and skincare innovator, Dermstore, is hosting a summertime pop-up store on Nantucket. Each of these activations brings these brands to life and allows consumers to see, touch, try, and buy the products while emotionally connecting with the brand.
Consumers Still Want to Try Before They Buy
Although consumers have grown comfortable shopping across channels, research shows the majority still prefers to shop in a physical store. A recent study shows that 94% of food and beverage consumers, 86% of furniture shoppers, and 73% of apparel buyers prefer to shop in a retail environment rather than online.
Direct-to-consumer brands recognize that they need to give consumers an opportunity to engage directly with the product to earn their trust, but the expense and risk of traditional brick-and-mortar stores may be out of reach for many brands. Pop-up stores and curated mobile tours generate buzz, engage consumers in a tactile way, and allow brands to test new markets without committing to a retail strategy.
Invigorating Social Strategy
Many direct-to-consumer brands built their following through their search strategies and social communities. While these tactics has proven successful in the past, it’s becoming increasingly difficult - and expensive - for brands to stand out on search and social. In fact, 27% of consumers say their opinion of ads on social media has declined over the past year, with 58% citing “too many social ads overall” as the reason. However, researchers have consistently found that peer-to-peer and user-generated content is more trusted than brand-created content. Experiential activations put the consumer in the position of spreading the brand message by creating experiences that keep them talking and sharing well beyond the initial engagement.
At Inspira, we create innovative ways to tell brand stories and transform them into share-worthy cultural movements. Contact us to learn how our suite of experiential marketing services can help grow your brand.
Sources: Walker Sands The Future of Retail 2018, Sprout Social Stop the Scroll: Creating Social Ads That Drive Awareness, Engagement & Action 2018