Engaging consumers using branded experiences at retail destinations

Emily Hill


Experiential has always been an important element of any marketing calendar in the retail and leisure industry. Using activations, brands are brought to life, by creating immersive experiences which results in generating closer bonds with the consumer. Now, with the massive growth of online over the last 5 years it has become a primary rather than secondary focus. It is no longer good enough to boast about what consumers can gain from the brand through traditional / digital media, they now want to be sold an experience. People want to ‘experience’ something that they can then share with friends through word of mouth but also through their social channels, so marketers must create those moments that are worth sharing. Hence, the delivery of an event is now a means of communicating a brand personality to the consumer. But how do we ensure that consumers engage with the brand and gain a positive perception?

As an agency, we work with budgets of all sizes to put on activations that increase footfall, dwell time and spend. We maximise limited budgets by engaging local community groups and businesses to host high quality, long running, community centred events rather than blowing the budget on large one-off events. We see the potential in the smallest trends and know how to turn them into PR worthy activations such as the Mannequin Challenge. Equally we have the experience, contacts and know-how to create impactful one-off events to put a destination on the map.


Here at AL we’re always on the lookout for cool ideas for inspiration! And here are a few activations that we have loved…


1. Deliveroo’s Slot Machine

In order to promote its restaurant delivery service in the UK, Deliveroo set up a fun installation which toured areas of the UK. The ‘RooMachine’ was styled like a giant slot machine, which rewarded people with samples from some of its restaurant partners. The aim was to bring attention to the number of meal options that can be found on the platform, as well as create awareness of the ease of ordering a takeaway from the service.


2. WWF: #StopWildlifeTrafficking Hologram

In a move to raise awareness among the public around the issue of animal trafficking, WWF and The People’s Postcode Lottery produced a life-size elephant hologram that roamed the streets of London for a week. The animal charity looked to tackle the out-of-sight, out-of-mind attitude that people tend to adapt over issues like this. This was part of a wider marketing campaign that also saw the design of a number of pedestrian crossings with prints of marine turtles, snow leopards and tigers, the animals most affected by the trade.


3. Cadbury’s Secret Santa

In December 2019, Cadbury launched their secret Santa post office, so people could send chocolate to their loved ones for free as a random act of kindness.  In the style of Secret Santa, the gift was sent anonymously, so the friend or family had no idea who it came from. The post office popped up at destinations over the UK. This campaign succeeded in capturing people’s imaginations and spreading festive cheer.


4. Comfort’s Swap Shop

Sustainability has become more and more important in recent years. So, Comfort jumped on this and hosted a swap shop in partnership with Cosmopolitan, Elle, and Oxfam in order to raise awareness about the importance of buying second-hand and up-cycling.

Visitors to the pop up could swap an item of their own clothing for one that was donated by the partners, which would be washed with Comfort’s Intense range before being taken home.

Proving that experiential marketing can have a wider purpose than just increased awareness or sales, Comfort donated all proceeds from the ticketed event to the Prince’s Trust, also ensuring a wide variety of causes would be able to benefit from the event.


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