1. Shopper & Customer

Q&A with Top Event Producer: Lessons from the Buzziest Media Activations

Crystal Anderson got her start in events during her time at Tough Mudder and went on to help produce some of the most frequently cited experiential activations in the retail industry: The Museum of Ice Cream and 29Rooms.

These “selfie factories” were consumers’ “first foray into people stepping out from behind their phones and being able to experience the world in really fun, cool ways,” Anderson said in a recent interview. Now, as Co-founder and Head of Creative for a very good job, she is expanding the creative canvas for brands that want to engage more deeply with their consumers through physical events, activations and experiences.

During the Retail Innovation Conference & Expo, June 13-15, 2023 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Anderson will offer candid perspectives on her experience producing some of the buzziest experiential activations in the retail and media industries. Watch this video, and read some of her key lessons, to unlock some inspiration for your brand’s next experiential moment.

Lesson 1: Use audience listening to find out what your consumers really want.

Now more than ever, people are ready to get out from behind their screens and interact with brands in a more tactile way, especially brand loyalists, according to Anderson: “To be able to go into a space and experience [the brand] from the inside out is what people are really after now.”

Brands can create these experiences inside of their stores, through separate events and even in consumers’ homes with immersive unboxing experiences. The key to developing the right strategy, however, is listening to what your audience wants. Anderson and her team use social listening to gauge what specific fandoms want and how they want to interact with the brand. “Fans are going to tell you what they want, it’s up to you to reverse engineer that into your marketing and retail spaces,” Anderson advised.

Lesson 2: Think beyond the confines of your brand.

Sure, you may want to create experiential moments that draw consumers directly, and solely, to your brand. But Anderson noted that companies need to think bigger and more contextually about adjacent products and media that align with your brand’s mission, vision and vibe. For example, a very good job curated a mailer for the Hulu hit series Reasonable Doubt, that included a Telfar tote bag brimming with goodies that represent show characters and key plot points.

Anderson explained that even brands and retailers trying to sell their own product lines should think about products that complement or work well with the item (or items) they’re trying to promote. This could lead to a powerful partnership and collaboration that ultimately improves acquisition and engagement.

Lesson 3: Give your brand’s fans first (or exclusive) access.

As brands develop the marketing strategy around their activations, they should leverage key customers and influencers who are already posting about their brands, according to Anderson. This will create a powerful ripple effect that connects physical and digital, and also helps drive additional traffic to your ultimate destination.

To build additional buzz for its series And Just Like That, HBO Max (now just Max) wanted to create an influencer mailer experience that embraced the essence and legacy of Sex and the City. The final product included a massive branded Manolo Blahnik shoebox filled with various products that tied to the ethos of the show. Not only did it generate excitement among folks who were already eager to see the show, it also gave them a vibrant canvas to play with in the content they shared on social media. By sending the mailer to some of the top Sex and the City fans and influencers on social media, such as Carrie Dragshaw and Every Outfit on SATC, HBO Max and a very good job were able to drive reach of approximately 13.6 million.

Register for the Retail Innovation Conference & Expo to learn how your brand can capitalize on the experience economy. 

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