The Next-Level Experiences with Brands We Can't Forget

Alex Hinrichs

28 January 2020

If you’ve strolled down the Magnificent Mile in downtown Chicago, you’ve probably noticed some stores are alive and thriving while others have tumbleweeds rolling through their entryways.

If you’re familiar with experiential marketing, you know how crucial the customer experience can be to a company’s success and failures, especially in the world of retail. Evidence of this can be seen by simply stopping to take a look inside a retail store, but it can also be found by analyzing Forbes' 2019 Retail Awards. The companies that thrived were the ones who truly took the time to invest in the customer experience and found innovative ways to get people to visit their stores.

Take Lululemon for example. Lululemon's two new experiential stores in Chicago and Minneapolis (coffee and yoga included!) have engaged a delighted audience. They aren't the only company taking notice to experiential power, either. Target has soared past their projections for 2019 after taking the time to reinvent their customer experience by renovating and modernizing their locations and products. This success is why Brian Cornell, CEO, won Top CEO of 2019 via CNN.

Now, let's think about the flip side. I’m sure you can think of a few stores you avoid. The sad reality for those stores is, you're not alone. These are the brands that don't embrace the changing landscape like K-Mart, Toys R Us and Sports Authority to name a few. We aren't just buying things to buy things anymore. We're bring things into our lives because they make us feel a certain way and give us a certain experience.

So, what are the positive and real-world examples of companies adapting to our ever-evolving retail desires? This is where the Magnificent Mile in Chicago comes back into conversation. When walking down Michigan Avenue, there were hundreds of storefronts trying to entice me to go in. The ones I ended up visiting offered a unique twist.

Here are two experiences I can't stop thinking about since my walk down the Magnificent Mile.


Starbucks Reserve: 5 Floors of Experiential Marketing

Starbucks recently opened “Starbucks Reserve” locations in multiple countries. The Starbucks Reserves are experiential centers where people can try different brews of coffee and learn how Starbucks roasts their coffee beans. Oh yeah, there’s also an alcoholic coffee bar. They recently opened up their 6th Reserve in Chicago (their 3rd location in the United States) and visitors can’t seem to get enough. The roastery includes five floors of mesmerizing experiences. The result? Endless hours spent exploring, tasting and one sad, depleted wallet. 


AT&T: Friends Pop-Up Experience

Another incredible experience was found inside the AT&T store. They jumped on the pop-up craze and recreated the different sets of the popular T.V. show Friends. The scenes were recreated for people to interact with and share their experiences via social media. The line for a chance to sit on the iconic couch was out the door. People who stopped in might not have needed a new phone, but the Friends experience was able to draw them into the store out of curiosity. According to Forbes, once you get potential customers into the store, they’re 71% likely to spend $50 or more. The experience also creates a lasting memory and connection for people between AT&T and things that the person values and enjoys. So, when they’re binge watching Friends, they’re going to think of their experience at AT&T and associate AT&T with brands they trust. When my Verizon or T-Mobile phone loses service while I’m trying to watch my daily episodes of Friends, I know exactly what company I can go to that values my series addiction as much as I do.


Ultimately, these brand experiences create lasting memories with the people who engage with them. These special moments give brands the opportunity show up in a meaningful way, face-to-face, with their ideal customers. This is why experiential marketing is so powerful.  No matter what the product or service, when a customer decides they are finally ready to buy, they are going to think of brands they value first. In a world where advertisers seem to be spying on your conversations and every other day there seems to be a scandal of a corporation selling your private information, the brands who are able to build trust and create positive emotional experiences with their audiences through physical experiences will win.

Success for brands, in the modern world, is found within trust and shared emotional experiences. This trend is alive and well with no end in sight.

Now that we're feeling inspired, feel free to reach out to us at STAR to learn more about experiential marketing and what we can do for you. Contact us here.

Alex Hinrichs

Alex Hinrichs is the Marketing Coordinator at STAR. He specializes in photography, videography, and digital strategy. He loves traveling and all things involving experiential marketing!



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