In a recent interview with Event Magazine, Marina Haydn, SVP circulation and retail marketing at The Economist, explained how the brand is using experiential activity to increase the title’s subscriber base and bring the brand to life.

Crepes with insect toppings, coffee derived from cat poo and smoothies made from food destined for the rubbish bin are just some of the elements that have featured within The Economist’s experiential activity, part of its ‘Discomfort Future’ campaign.

The Economist Feature in Event Magazine

The Economist Feature in Event Magazine

From a small test channel three years ago, experiential is now a firm and growing element of the title’s marketing strategy, with around 80% of their experiential activity focused on its consumer experiential campaigns.

“We appreciate the broader positive role experiential plays in terms of brand building and educating our target audience, in addition to the subscriptions it generates,” says Haydn. “It helps us build relationships with people and engage in deeper ways with those who are intrigued by the type of challenging content we produce.”

A total of 20,000 subscriptions were delivered through experiential marketing activity last year and Haydn says the brand is actively looking to grow this over the next year.

“The subscriptions we received via experiential marketing grew 28% from fiscal year 2015/16 to 2016/17,” adds Haydn. “In the UK alone, a lifetime value of £1.7m was generated. Subscriptions via experiential activity will represent 20% of our acquisition activity in the real world – everything outside the realm of digital marketing – next year.”

Research had shown that many people perceived The Economist to be a dry business title. Through experiential, the brand is striving to change this as well as challenging perceptions and getting people to stop and think twice.

Haydn says: “We use experiential to illustrate a problem that is normally expressed in hard data – for example, the fact that 40% of food is thrown away. Instead of presenting the challenge through data, we are offering people a solution so it ends up being a positive experience and a refreshing way to bring both content and the brand to life.”

“We want to surprise and delight our target audience through experiential – many of the people we interact with have low levels of brand familiarity – experiential helps them to understand what The Economist is about and improves brand perception. We have seen a clear, positive impact on band image and it has helped to bring our brand to life,” adds Haydn. “Within the real world marketing division, experiential is absolutely increasing in importance, enabling us to gain strength and to bring our marketing to life in a much more impactful way, as well as being an excellent complement to all our digital marketing activities.”

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