Why Experiential Marketing is Like Dating

Brittany Chaffee

30 July 2019


I know, it’s a bold statement. But I want to preface it with this: we date brands. I know! It sounds super weird! That’s why we’re here! We browse through their Tinder profiles (i.e. me walking through Target, basically). We take them out to dinner (i.e. testing makeup and perfumes, mongering food samples at the grocery store). We ask them to be official on Facebook (i.e. I’m “In a Relationship” with DiGiorno’s Take and Bake Pizza). Our entire lives are spent deciphering which brands we are loyal to and in love with. We also spend a lifetime ignoring the brands we don’t much care for – or don’t notice at all.

And think about it – dating is about the experience. I’m not going to love someone or something that sits there and stares at me. Brands I truly build connections with are ones I’m enjoying with my senses: touch, smell, sight, hearing, heartbeat. When we walk into a room, we notice the first person that comes up and shakes our hand and breathlessly say’s hello. Not the person standing in the corner.

Now, let’s consider this. We’ve been dating brands for a while. So, what’s the brand protocol to spice up the relationship with its consumers? Like any great relationship expert would say, it’s all about the give and take. This mechanism is inherent to all personal relationships in fact – you can’t expect to receive something if you don’t offer it back on your own turn.

So, brands need to take this in account as well. When we want consumers to interact with brands, we need to give them what they’re willing to give us. Interaction. Conversations. Feedback. Relationships. When a balance between the give and take is shifted, partners feel like they are not getting enough from their relationship and will move on. Same goes for brands and consumers. That’s why give and take is important in the beginning. Brands give. Consumers take. And eventually, if brands do it right, the consumer will give as well.

So, where does experiential marketing come into play?

Experiential marketing is the offering – the differentiator. When you invite consumers to physically interact with your brand in some way, you are giving them brand value. According to Adam Grant, author of Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, people fall into three different categories: Givers, Takers, and Matchers. The book was originally written with a business approach – but it quickly moved into a case for relationships. And now, in my opinion, brands!


Brands can be Givers, Takers, and Matchers too. Let’s run through how each works:


  • Takers: When brands do nothing aside from slap a logo or slogan on a banner, they’re Takers. What are they offering the customer? Where’s the value? We are surrounded by advertisements nowadays and when brands want exposure with no value, often times they’re taking away consumers attention and not giving anything in return. Quality marketing is so much more than that.
  • Matchers: Matchers, on the other hand, keep a balance sheet. When they give, they expect something in return. Matcher brands offer deals with a spin on things. The first example I can think of are airlines. Here, this airfare is 20% off! But you’re going to have to pay for bags later in the purchasing process. Matchers view marketing as nothing but a commercial transaction. 

  • Givers: Brands that are Givers offer value and interaction. This is where experiential marketing comes in, when consumers are giving feedback, touching and feeling the product, discussing with a team of friendly faces. When there is an opportunity to give the consumer an emotional reaction face-to-face and allow them to experience the brand in a unique, sensory way – that’s vital. This is when loyalty happens.

The best kept secret of highly successful relationships, according to Psychology Today, are the relationships with two Givers. If we think of an experiential marketing campaign as the brand Giver and the interacting consumer as a Giver – that’s the best relationship with the consumer you will have. Like the relationship rule of give and take, experiential marketing is a best kept secret. It’s the conversation. The relatable experiences that draw humans into the conversation. They feel as if they are getting something out of the interaction. Experiential marketing is turning human-to-human connection into giver-to-giver communication. Something that should be on top of a brand’s priority list.

Want to talk experiential marketing and design? Reach us here.

Brittany Chaffee


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