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Notable Themes Derived from the 2024 Experiential Marketing Summit

The Experiential Marketing Summit (EMS) is a premier conference and networking event designed for professionals in the event and experiential marketing industries. It brings together marketers, brand managers, event planners, and industry leaders to share insights, strategies, and innovations in experiential marketing. Attendees benefit from keynote presentations, panel discussions, workshops, and networking opportunities, all aimed at enhancing their skills and knowledge in creating impactful and memorable brand experiences. The summit covers a wide range of topics, including emerging trends, best practices, technology integration, and ROI measurement, making it a valuable resource for anyone involved in the planning and execution of marketing events.

This year, one of our experts, Robynne Weaver, Vice President, New Business, Events, attended EMS to explore and experience the event first-hand with a critical eye on trends and themes. Read on to learn more about her key findings from this incredible event.

In the ever-evolving landscape of experiential marketing, brands are increasingly turning to unique and innovative strategies to enhance their return on investment (ROI). Outdoor experiences and the concept of “festivalization” have emerged as potent tools for achieving this goal. For various outdoor recreation brands and major service providers, these strategies offer invaluable opportunities to connect with their target audiences in meaningful ways. By leveraging both proprietary events and aligned activations, these companies are building long-term brand recognition and customer loyalty. This article explores how outdoor activations and festivalization are utilized to engage key demographics, particularly Gen Z, and how these efforts translate into increased brand affinity and customer acquisition.

Increased ROI from Outdoor Experiences and Festivalization

For brands operating in the outdoor recreation sector, the storytelling potential of outdoor experiences is unmatched. High-profile events such as film festivals offer a

platform to align brand values with compelling narratives, creating memorable experiences that amplify brand loyalty and engagement. By participating in such events, brands leverage the festival’s ambiance and storytelling platform to resonate deeply with their audience.

Engagement with Gen Z

Understanding the importance of connecting with the next generation of consumers, many brands actively engage with Gen Z through on-campus college events. These events provide a direct and personal touchpoint, allowing brands to interact with a demographic projected to make up 30% of the workforce by 2030. Given Gen Z’s selective engagement with online content and social media, these in-person interactions are crucial for building authentic connections and fostering brand loyalty among younger consumers.

Outdoor Activations to Engage with Suburban & Rural Audiences

Major service providers and manufacturers, particularly those serving suburban and rural communities, often focus on outdoor activations at regional community events and state fairs to build brand affinity and attract new customers. These events offer an excellent platform to showcase their services, engage with current customers, and reach potential new ones in a community-focused setting. By participating in outdoor activations, brands can enhance their visibility and strengthen their relationships with often overlooked customers, reinforcing their commitment to serving this audience in the communities in which they live.

Owned Strategy vs. Aligned Strategy

Brands should employ a mix of owned and aligned experiential marketing strategies to maximize their impact. An owned strategy involves creating proprietary events, allowing for complete control over the branding, messaging, and attendee experience. On the other hand, an aligned strategy involves participating in existing events in the marketplace that align with the brand’s mission and values. This mix of proprietary events and strategic sponsorships enables brands to reach broader audiences while maintaining a consistent narrative.

Long-Term Brand Building

The primary goal for these brands is not just immediate customer acquisition, but also long-term brand building. Generating awareness and building brand recognition are crucial components of this strategy. By engaging in both an owned and aligned event marketing mix, brands can steadily increase their visibility and appeal over time, creating a sustainable path to growth.


In conclusion, the integration of outdoor experiences and festivalization into marketing strategies offers significant benefits for various brands to connect with their core audiences. Through a combination of proprietary events and aligned activations, companies effectively connect with their target audiences, particularly Gen Z and those living outside of major metro areas. This approach not only enhances immediate ROI but also contributes to long-term brand recognition and loyalty. As the marketing landscape continues to evolve, the emphasis on authentic, experiential engagement will remain a critical factor in achieving sustained success.

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