Lidl and CSM Live bring together industry experts to discuss why brands are increasingly harnessing live experiences and activations to resonate with consumers

Brand activations and live experiences are becoming an increasingly popular and effective marketing technique. 79% of brands say they will execute more experiential programs this year compared to last, and a staggering 98% of users say they feel more inclined to purchase after attending an activation.

Interested in uncovering what is fuelling this shift, we sit down with Joanna Gomer, Senior Consultant, Partnerships, at Lidl and Paul Hicks, Director of Experiential and Events at CSM Live. By exploring the changing landscape of marketing and advertising, they reveal how brands can most effectively harness these opportunities this year.

Why do you think brands are increasingly using activations to strengthen their consumer relationships? 

Paul Hicks, Director of Experiential and Events CSM Live: People are certainly becoming more aware of activations’ unique ability to cut through in a world of digital and social bombardment from advertisers, and I think this is the reason we are seeing not only an uptake but also more sophistication in their delivery. Brilliant activations engage in personal, relevant and credible ways, increasing brand attention, relevancy and purchase intent.

Activations in a new foreign market are also a powerful means of engaging with new consumers, as they can experience the brand in a way that is just not possible through traditional or digital channels.

In what ways has Lidl been employing brand activations?

Joanna Gomer, Senior Consultant, Partnerships, at Lidl UK: We have been harnessing brand activations to engage audiences in a new way – with the aim of raising awareness, providing sampling opportunities, and driving business back to stores.

Activations have now become a fundamental part of our campaign to raise awareness of our football coaching programmes, FA Lidl Skills. They give the public a taste of our football sessions, the opportunity to learn more about the free sessions we offer and meet FA coaches.

 

What can the rising importance of brand activations tell us about changing attitudes towards non-traditional forms of advertising?

Paul, CSM Live: We live in an ‘experience’ society, where consumers increasingly want to feel involved. Traditional media channels may catch the eye, but non-traditional media catches the imagination, creates memories and makes people famous – which is what consumers crave. The fact that activations are becoming more important shows that brands understand the need to connect with their consumers on a more personal level.

With the lines between branded content and real life increasingly blurring, does this create more opportunities for brands to resonate in a more authentic way with consumers?

Joanna Gomer, Lidl: With consumers becoming more aware of advertising and branded content, activations give customers the opportunity to engage with the brand and products, so they can form and trust their own opinions.

In recent years, what have been the most notable developments in brand activation? 

Paul, CSM Live: Brand activations have developed as a strategic tool to enhance and extract more value from a partnership between a brand and a rights holder. Lidl’s sponsorship of The FA Skills programme has truly benefitted from the Football Zones roadshow, where the partnership has become very apparent for the target audience due to the physical interaction with the brand.

Technology has of course been integral to the development of brand activations, in its measurement of fan engagement and improvement of ROI.

How can an effective social media strategy elevate an activation?

Paul, CSM Live: The most successful activations often involve an integrated experience across multiple media channels, where the physical brand activation can be amplified and engaged pre, during and post activation.

An integrated social media strategy ensures positive engagement around the brand, even amongst consumers who can’t attend the activation in person. This halo effect can be seen in the work we did at Twickenham for the Rugby World Cup; utilising giant Twitter walls, we allowed fans on the other side of the world to be a part of the action instantaneously.

How can partnering with experience specialists help elevate a brand activation? 

Paul, CSM Live: Experience specialists can help brands ensure that consumers are put at the heart of every activation. When we work with clients, our aim is to elevate the experience using our understanding of what consumers engage with at every touchpoint. Driven by this insight, we provide creative strategies that target and engage the relevant audience in the desired market.

With new technologies playing such a key role in the activation landscape, partnering with experience specialists helps brands be at the forefront of these developments. Through our creative technology and innovation department – which has been boosted by recent acquisitions – we own IP and are driving new product developments that we roll out to our clients. Thanks to our global network, we can also share new findings from teams in all regions.

What can we look forward to this year from the partnership between Lidl and CSM Live? 

Joanna, Lidl: We hope to have another strong year together, with local events like Royal Highland Show, Football Zones, as well as Baby Shows, which have worked really well for us in the past. We’re looking at our partnership with CSM Live as a means to utilise activations, alongside our wider strategic marketing approach, to target key geographical areas.

In 2018 we also plan to use our partnership to help us tell a joined-up story with our additional partners such as the NSPCC.

Paul, CSM Live: 2018 is an exciting year for the CSM Live & Lidl partnership; it’s going from strength to strength and this year we’re looking to help create deeper connections with the target audience across Lidl’s array of different product sectors. A key aim of the partnership is to increase the successes of driving new customers to store and maximising voucher redemptions, which already exceed industry averages, ensuring we deliver a clear ROI.

Experiential marketing and Live Events are seeing a significant increase in marketing investment from businesses and here at CSM Live we are being proactive in our response to this key growth area. We have new team members joining that are bringing new expertise and experience to the business, helping boost our offering for Lidl and all our clients.

Adam is the co-founder and editor of www.eventindustrynews.com Adam, a technology evangelist also organises Event Tech Live, Europe’s only show dedicated to event technology and the Event Technology Awards. Both events take place in November, London.