How experiential will become a new form of market research

Will Northover, Client Services Manager, Blackjack Promotions

Experiential marketing and data collection are the perfect couple. Think about it: everybody loves a freebie, no matter who you are. That is why it’s baffling why many brands are still struggling when it comes to customer data. They shouldn’t be. It’s simple: it’s a two-way exchange so you have to give customers something valuable in return for their data – such as an experience, a prize or voucher. This is why experiential and data collection are the perfect couple. Experiential creates numerous opportunities for live market research and for a brand to grow its database.

The value exchange
We recently worked on a campaign with First Great Western inviting passengers travelling through Paddington and Reading train station over the festive period to drop by First Great Western’s giant branded snow globe and have their photo taken inside. The photo was then printed on-site and straight away the customers could take it away with them in exchange for a piece of their data. It was a simple idea, but hugely effective.

Matching that was a British Airways (BA) and JCDecaux campaign, which involved five flight simulators linked up with live boards at Victoria station. Every 15 minutes, BA gave away a free flight to the person who got the best time during the time slot. People were queuing up to give away their data, all just so that they could sit in front of the machine. And brand ambassadors were on-site to present tickets to the lucky winners.

When it comes to experiential, the opportunities for capturing customer data are endless; all brands have to do is think creatively. We’re currently looking at tailored vending machines in train stations and airports. But these are vending machines that don’t require money, just a customer’s email address, which they can enter in return for a list of items they can select – this could be anything from a can of Coke to a motorbike.

It’s worth a gamble
As a community, consumers are thinking if I put my email details in (of course, it’s a gamble) I could end up with a motorbike. Perhaps there would be one big prize up for grab once a day over a week-long period. The fact is that if something is up for grabs, consumers are more likely to take a chance. It would be easy to add a mobile element too: perhaps consumers could download an app which gives them a code. They then go to the vending machine, enter their code, and watch as the dispenser whirls around.

Again, it’s a complete gamble and 99% of customers might get a boring item, but 1% will get something really exciting. Either way, it’s a value exchange and one people will actively want to take part in. It’s time for brands to try something different and explore different way to try and get data in a way that’s fun, exciting and experiential. The opportunities for creativity here are endless just as long as it’s well thought-out. So be creative and grow your database at the same time, give away an experience and people will happily hand over their details.