How brands can build trust through experiences, connections, and community

September 20, 2021 | By: Claire Paull, Director of Marketing, Amazon Ads

As marketers, we tend to think of experiential marketing in terms of big, flashy stunts—like when a brand takes over an iconic city landmark, or launches an immersive pop-up that’s so delightful that everyone who walks by can’t help but smile, take selfies, and share them with their friends. Customers remember those big experiences. They strengthen the relationship between shoppers and a brand.

But during the last year, in-person activations were all but impossible. This highlighted a new opportunity and challenge for marketers: Could we bring the joy and wow-factors of experiential marketing to other touchpoints?

We know that customers engage with brands across channels, daily. Customers interact with brands when they stream shows, cue up a playlist for a family dance party, and livestream with their favorite creators. What if we, as marketers, tapped into those moments to surprise, delight, and engage customers? What if we met customers where they like to be—and made it memorable through experiences, connections, and community?

Let’s take a look at what that could look like.

Person with headphones on enjoying the music with text to the right of them that says "Experiences. Be where they are and make it memorable"

Experiences. Be where they are and make it memorable.

Create novel experiences in everyday moments

Our experiences shape us—and not just the big moments, like once-in-a-lifetime vacations or starting a dream job. Small moments impact us just as much. A recent study from New York University and the University of Miami found that new and diverse experiences are linked to enhanced happiness, and that people “feel happier when they have more variety in their daily routines.”1

The takeaway for brands? There’s value in creating memorable experiences in everyday moments.

JLo Beauty is one brand that’s done just that. JLo Beauty is a new skincare line founded by Jennifer Lopez, in partnership with Guthy-Renker. At this year’s Adweek Challenger Brands Summit, JLo Beauty/Guthy-Renker, shared how they launched the brand with a multichannel strategy designed to connect with customers in ways they’d remember.

First, they created a custom, shoppable Store where online customers could explore the full JLo Beauty line. Then, they layered in ways for shoppers to discover JLo Beauty and the brand’s Store. One of those initiatives was a livestreamed Q&A with Lopez. During this livestreaming event, anyone could tune in and ask a question. Getting to chat live with JLo is not something most shoppers do every day, and it was certainly an experience they won’t forget.

Person looking at phone smirking on the right and the words "Connections. be part of their life. And larger-than-life." on the left.

Connections. Be part of their life. And larger-than-life.

Connect through shared values

In today’s shopping landscape, values can also become a deciding factor. Sixty-eight percent of US consumers say that it’s important that the brands they buy from make it clear what values they stand for, according to a 2020 Kantar Monitor study.2 Customers will use their dollars to support brands that champion what they believe in—whether that’s sustainability, racial justice, gender equality, or another cause. They want brands to communicate those messages, often and across channels.

LIFEWTR, a premium water brand, has a history of uplifting the work and voices of emerging creators and advancing social progress through the arts. Last year, to support the rising calls for racial justice, LIFEWTR created “Black Art Rising.” This digital gallery featured eight artists whose work was inspired by their pursuit of social justice. LIFEWTR customers were excited to see this initiative and eager to learn about the artists, according to Michael Smith, Head of Marketing Communication, LIFEWTR.

“If you think about what a brand is at the end of the day, the most powerful brands represent a part of an individual’s self-identity,” Smith recently shared at an Adweek “At Home” panel. “That's why they want to be associated with the brand. That's part of the reason that they buy the brand.”

Young woman smiling with text to the right of them that says "Community. Build a sense of belonging."

Community. Build a sense of belonging.

Build thriving communities

Over time, connecting consistently with customers around values, passions, and interests can help brands create a community. Those communities can thrive even more when brands and their customers engage with each other, in real-time—whether they’re together in-person or digitally.

At a recent Adweek “At Home” panel, Carla Stevenné, a livestreaming influencer and the talent behind “BEAUTYBYCARLA,” shared how she built a passionate community of beauty and fashion lovers.

“I have viewers who tune in every single day [to my livestreams]. I call them ‘the Carla Crew,’” Stevenné said. “And every time someone joins the Carla Crew, I introduce them. I have my little introduction song. And then I send them a virtual hug, and they connect with that. They send virtual hugs back. I feel like people appreciate that introduction. They feel welcomed and they want to come back to my livestreams.”

As Stevenné shares beauty and fashion tips, and answers questions during her livestreams, her viewers will chat with each other. Real friendships have sprung from her digital community.

“I've built my business and brand through consistency and really connecting with my viewers,” Stevenné said.

These three tactics are how I’m thinking about forging stronger bonds with customers—by creating novel experiences, making authentic connections, and building thriving communities. There’s value to delivering your brand in big, bold, memorable ways in everyday moments across the customer journey. I’m excited to see what my fellow marketers come up with in the coming months and years.