Why brands like The Economist, Hello Fresh, Gorillas Delivery, Zipcar and Monese
are looking to real-world experience as a new form of customer acquisition.

Creative experiences that drive customer acquisition

Why brands like The Economist, Hello Fresh, Gorillas Delivery, Zipcar and Monese are looking to real-world creative experiences that drive customer acquisition.

True brand engagement, leads to loyal customers

Different forms of direct marketing (direct mail, digital, and direct response advertising) have historically been the mediums of choice for brands looking into customer acquisition. Particularly those whose business model involves some form of ongoing subscription, membership, or other form of frequent purchase.

Whilst effective in achieving high reach and a low cost per customer acquisition, the real measure of success is of course retention. Do the customers you attract become life-long brand loyalists and regular users? Are you achieving the ultimate end goal, which is positive return on investment (‘ROI’)?

Real-world brand activations and creative experiences allow an audience to experience the product and brand personally. This is a rich engagement that allows customers to fully appreciate a product’s USPs whilst absorbing the personality and emotive side of the brand.

Are Creative Experiences Right For All Brands?

The short answer is “No”. Creative experiences that drive customer acquisition work best for brands or businesses with some distinct characteristics.

  1. Number of existing customers – a global brand with hundreds of millions of customers will struggle to achieve a meaningful increase in customer base if experiential marketing is primarily viewed as an acquisition channel. However, for a brand with a smaller existing base, like The Economist who had 1m customers, this approach really moved the needle, growing its readership by over 10%.
  2. Customer ‘life-time’ value – a product with a low retail price (or low average order value) or a product purchased infrequently will find experiential marketing hard to pay back on a pure ROI basis. A brand attracting a consumer spend of say, £150+ per annum is key. The higher the consumer spend; the greater ROI can be achieved from using an experiential marketing approach.


  3. New market entrants, challenger brands, brands with limited physical presence – e.g. content publisher, an online or app-based product or service, e-commerce etc. These are amongst the most common businesses to reap the rewards from bringing their brand to life with creative experiences that drive customer acquisition.

The value of engagement

A real life, face-to-face engagement between consumer and brand should not be underestimated. Creating an experience that acts as a ‘honey pot’ attracting the optimum target audience, gives the consumer an immediate authentic and creative experience of the product. This is going to pay dividends in achieving a high level of retention. These creative experiences can fulfil other marketing objectives that work hand in hand with customer acquisition – e.g. driving brand reappraisal, targeting a new demographic, gaining brand cut-through in a new market or territory.

The Creative Possibilities Of Brand Experiences

What do we really mean by experiential marketing? Well, it can be any interaction (live, virtual or hybrid) that gives prospective customers a meaningful and memorable introduction to the brand. This can include

· Face to face street teams or touring road shows, operating in high footfall public spaces
· Event and festival campaigns
· Interactions in workspaces and educational establishments
· Pop-up spaces and installations in public places
· Streamed live experiences (e.g. product demonstration or brand events) accessed virtually online
· Invitee only venue-based experiences

The Economist

The Economist needed a new high impact and efficient customer acquisition strategy. An initial 2-day test proved so positive, over the course of 3 years, a real-world acquisition strategy was scaled across 14 countries. This yielded over 130k new customers with a retention rate that out-performed multiple other channels.

Gorillas Delivery

Creating real world creative experiences is a fundamental part of Gorillas strategy. Their aim is to to create mass brand awareness and maximise App downloads > sign-ups and the ultimate metric, grocery orders. Experiences attract the right hyper-local consumer, gain immediate App downloads, with a significant % placing their 1st order, yielding a high ROI.