How is Experiential Marketing Embracing a Sustainable Mindset?

The way we consume media, whether it be in-person, streamed, downloaded or in print has evolved significantly over the past few years. Many would say COVID didn’t just transform the way we work, but it also changed the way we gain access to much of what we enjoy beyond the workplace. Where previously, you could watch or listen to an event via a variety of mediums, now you can actually be part of it, and be more than just a face in the crowd or a number behind a screen. Instead, you actively take part using AR, VR, social media, and physical attendance. Brands are bringing people closer to the product and the names endorsing it.

Experiential marketing is changing, and it’s helping brands expand their reach and their consumers become more connected. But, with the want to reach larger audiences comes more cost, more resources and ultimately, fewer sustainable practices. This is changing though, experiential agencies London based and beyond, are enhancing their green credentials to continue delivering groundbreaking activations to national and global audiences whether they be consuming the content in person or via a screen.

In this blog we look at how such agencies ensure that waste is controlled, costs are kept low, and the impact of their carbon footprint is minimised.

What are experiential agencies doing to promote and achieve sustainable objectives?

Each experiential marketing agency may have its own specific sustainability goals and ways it tries to achieve them, but many best practices are shared. The common goal of reducing a carbon footprint and minimizing waste remains the same. Sustainability in experiential marketing though isn’t just related to how the business operates within its workspace, it’s how it puts on its immersive, experiential events. How it manages to create a product launch, a company announcement or brand awareness campaign sustainably without compromising on quality or standards.

We’ve compiled a selection of the best sustainability measures that experiential marketing agencies are using during their events and campaigns.

Eco-friendly materials

From set design to signage, from food and drink containers to décor, each item can be given careful thought about its sustainable qualities. Think bamboo, recycled paper, organic cotton, or biodegradable plastics for example. Using these removes the need for less sustainable products that can not only cost more but also cause more damage to the planet. Smyle, a London-based experiential agency, helped create a fully sustainable event for Salesforce by vetting suppliers for sustainability before using them and utilising reclaimed wood for part of the décor among many other sustainable products and methods that were used. In one event they even used rugs made from recycled bottle tops!

Digital experiences

In some cases, digital is king, and whilst a live activation is an event worth attending, at times, the same effect can be found, or even enhanced by hosting it digitally. Removing the need for transportation, the use of physical materials, venue hire, excessive utility costs and more, a digital event can put large audiences at the heart of the immersive experience without any increase to the carbon footprint of the event host or those virtually attending.

Partnerships with sustainable brands

Integrating sustainability messaging into experiential campaigns through link-ups with thought leaders in sustainability is a great way to help inspire change and actions among the target audience. Partnership not only enhances belief in the sustainable brand and the event host but also allows the event host to utilise the sustainable methods the partnering brand is known for. For example, a partnership with an energy supplier who has a strong focus on renewable energy and the event hosts using renewable energy to power the event would be a great constructive collaboration. Likewise, a partnership with a furniture maker who only uses sustainable materials and the stage, set or venue being furnished with their items would also enhance the sustainability message.

Promotion of eco-conscious messages

Experiential events are meant to be immersive and allow the audience to feel, think, and inspire. Activations by leading brands have the power to do this and when those brands are sending out a message with eco-consciousness at the heart, the message begins to be felt, thought about and inspiring.

This can be done by highlighting certain products or certain practices that we can all embrace, and highlighting how behavioural change can lead us towards a more sustainable, healthier, and safer planet. Gamification, VR, AR and more can all enhance this and put the attendees in the shoes of whoever you want them to be to get your message across.

Sustainable event planning

Implementing sustainable event management practices such as reducing energy consumption, removing the need for single-use items, focusing on the recycling of items that are used, and even looking at renting rather than purchasing furniture and other items used in the furnishing of the venue can all be beneficial. Using Smyle as the example again, the Salesforce event was one where they did just that and even went as far as renting the trees and plants that were used so they could be returned afterwards and continually looked after rather than left behind.

For some events, composting can become an option for waste management and even the suppliers chosen can be vetted to make sure they keep the complete carbon footprint of the event down. Aiming for local suppliers is a great asset here as it can help not just with sustainability by reducing transport, but also by building community trust and engagement.

You can dive deeper here too. The event venue and its contents may hit many sustainable targets, but what about the team being used? How are they travelling to the event? Can public transport be used to minimise the number of cars on the road? Could hotels be used to keep the team local rather than have them travel back and forth each day?

You can also consider looking at how items used could be donated to charity afterwards. If furniture or equipment has been purchased but is not likely to get a second use, consider extending its life by donating it to a local charity after your activation.

Food and drink options

Catering at events is often a high-cost and potentially low-return investment. Not everybody who consumes your offerings is going to convert to a customer. However, the sustainable nature of the event can be further enhanced by how the food and drink offerings are created. Vegan, pescatarian and vegetarian options for example are much more sustainable than heading down a fully carnivorous route. Then, as we mentioned earlier, choosing to use cutlery items and other food use items that are made from recyclable, sustainable materials will help keep your event on the greener side of things. If local suppliers can be used for this, even better!

Measurement and reporting of sustainability metrics

Following the above can be excellent for driving sustainability, but there isn’t always a guarantee it has helped hit the goals that have been set. Therefore, accurate measurement and reporting of the efforts put in and the results gained is essential. Experiential agencies use reporting systems to finetune their sustainability efforts for future events but also report to the clients on how successful their events have been. This then helps both the agency and the client emphasise the importance of sustainability and display how much change can be made through implementing changes that can be small in action but huge in results.

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