Part 2: Age of Re:Engagement
Experiential & Sustainable Brand Activations
An undeniable desire to reidentify and reconnect with what it means to be human is driving heightened consumer demand for tactile interaction, sensory stimulation and social experiences. Welcome to the age of Re:Engagement.
Continuing on from our first instalment (Part 1 : Retail & Brand Spaces) where we discussed how the focus on digital channels has resulted in overloaded connected lifestyles and passive engagement, our second instalment explores the possibilities of new re:engagement strategies for experiential, and sustainable brand activations.
We put forward a case that the intensified desire for human-centric design strategies that indulge consumers natural instincts of curiosity, exhilaration, meaning and self-gratification can foster greater advocacy and emotional connections with brands.
As more and more brands find fame online, the opportunity for fans to connect with their favourite brands in real life is being viewed as a coveted prize - and one that digital service platforms and DTC brands are increasingly willing to realise.
Having successfully fostered devout followings online, achieving cult or even ‘unicorn’ status, these brands are now looking to cement their existing relationships on an even deeper, hedonic level by engaging their audiences offline and in person. Even Deliveroo and Shopify are now joining the ranks of online brands like Casper, Lively, Glossier and The Real Real opening physical touchpoints.
The opportunity and challenge here is to live up to and exceed the elevated expectations of these passionate advocates by creating original and symbolic experiences. Brands excelling in this arena are; Matchesfashion.com who designed their landmark 5 Carlos Place to act as a broadcasting hub and events space; and Netflix with their ‘superfan’ experiences such as The Upside Down pop-up bars in London and Chicago, where visitors are able to immerse themselves in their 'obsession' with the TV programme Stranger Things.
Activating Human Curiosity & Exhilaration
As the two largest consumer groups, Millennials and Gen-Z are widely known as the experience generation. To them events and adventures are the new status symbols. But as ‘experience’ has become a marketing buzzword, encompassing anything and everything, there is growing backlash to things such as ‘Instagram factories’ that churn out superficial Instagrammable spaces that fall short of facilitating truly meaningful engagement between brands and their audiences, or people and theirs.
We have always believed the success of experiential marketing and brand activations lie in creating moments of wonderment and exploration - creating lasting memories by energising human senses, connections and emotions. It is the most progressive brands that are engaging their audiences in these type of experiences. Take Galeries Lafayette and their new Galerie des Galeries cultural space, which hosts a series of multisensory and illusionary installations designed to excite visitors and play with human perception. Anya Hindmarch is another, boldly experimenting with key product launches. Her latest ‘Weave Project’ literally invited people to climb into her collection. The key to these strategies is that they appeal to the fundamental human instincts of curiosity, exhilaration and self-gratification.
Accelerated Brand Interventions
Extending beyond activating human instincts, is the need to focus on protecting humanity itself and the role sustainable actions and mindsets play in this, which is an important factor for Millennials and Gen Z. This is forming the basis of future brand activations – something we like to think of as brand interventions - that give something back, putting people and planet before profit.
Brands are becoming increasingly aware that they have the power to drive greater and faster change than governments and public institutions, because of the strong emotional connections and levels of engagement that they’ve built with their audiences. As people seek more purpose and meaning in their lives, brands can use their influence to facilitate action, tackling the most pressing social and environmental concerns of their consumers. Key to this is finding a cause that your target consumer is really passionate about that also truly aligns with your brand DNA.
Successfully leading this charge are two of our clients. adidas with it’s Parley for the Oceans collaboration which is more than a just collection but a movement, empowering a powerful call to action with their ‘Run for the Oceans’ campaign; and FaceGym who are revolutionising the beauty industry with non-invasive facial treatments that use organic and vegan ingredients. When collaborating with FaceGym on their new studio spaces, we carried their sustainable ethos into our design using sustainable materials and introducing facilities and incentives for packaging returns/recycling. Ultimately, brands of the future will either exist to do good, or cease to exist!
Hermès : Reality, Fantasy & Rarity
Neatly wrapping up all of the above themes; memorable and participative experiences, human curiosity and sustainable intervention, is our collaboration with Hermès’ in-house atelier, petit h. An early adopter of circular design, petit h creates beautiful and unique objects from the luxury ‘offcuts’ of Hermès’ products – successfully positioning these pieces as highly covetable and desirable collectables.
In NYC, working in collaboration with DML we brought to life petit h’s unique combination of craft, sustainability and innovation through digital and tactile experiences by creating the Holiday Factory on Madison Avenue – an interactive and Instagrammable Christmas activation. Leveraging the power of social media, we opened this up to the world, taking a moment of rarity and making it into a globally accessible campaign that attracted media attention from around the world, raising awareness of the brand.
The combination of connected experiences, interactive windows, holiday craft factory and experiential advent calendar, delivered one-of-kind experiences unique to each individual – driving record 1-day single store sales of $1Million and selling 70% faster than projected as well as amplifying Hermès sustainability credentials with over 455 million online readership.
Want to work together and unleash your brand’s potential? Email Sam at firstname.lastname@example.org ↗.
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