What is Immersive Marketing?

Gone are the days of traditional marketing and advertising. With the proliferation of new technologies, immersive marketing has become a useful tool brands can use to build stronger and deeper emotional connections with their consumers. 

Immersive marketing uses cutting-edge technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), or mixed reality (MR) to provide consumers with more enhanced and engaging marketing experiences. Whether it’s through AR-enhanced shopping experiences, interactive branded events, or VR simulations, immersive marketing allows brands to connect with their audiences in more meaningful ways all while driving engagement, brand awareness, customer loyalty, and a positive return-on-investment (ROI).

Immersive Marketing .vs. Experiential Marketing

The phrases “immersive marketing” and “experiential marketing” are often used interchangeably. While both deliver memorable experiences and generate earned media, there are fundamental differences that set the two apart.

What is Experiential Marketing?

Experiential marketing describes any hands-on, interactive experiences brands design for consumers. The goal of these experiences is to draw visitors, and therefore, generate brand awareness. Audience members become active participants in crafting a brand’s story. Oftentimes, these do not occur within a simulated environment. Examples of experiential marketing include:

  • Gen Z and millennial-focused marketing agency Wasserman Next Gen partnered with Coffee-mate to build a 20’ coffee cup “cafe” on Ohio State University’s campus to provide students with a caffeine boost for finals season. Wasserman Next Gen coupled this pop-up with an on-demand coffee and creamer delivery service.
  • To reinforce the brand’s “Have a Break, Have a Kit Kat” tagline, Kit Kat installed benches that resembled the famous candy bar in public spaces. When people sat down, the bench would dispense a free Kit Kat bar and people could take a break and have a Kit Kat.

What is Immersive Marketing?

Unlike experiential marketing, immersive marketing transports consumers into an entirely fabricated world infused with the brand’s values, beliefs, and messaging. These multi-sensory experiences rely on technologies to bridge the gap between the real and virtual realities. In addition to increasing brand awareness, building emotional connections, and boosting engagement, immersive experiences can differentiate brands when tailored to a particular target audience and industry. Examples of immersive marketing campaigns include:

  • Ally Bank teamed up with Monopoly and used AR to build an interactive multi-city scavenger hunt. Life-sized Monopoly-style game squares were placed across U.S. cities, and when activated via QR code, entered users into a virtual game. This campaign leveraged immersive technologies to gamify financial literacy.
  • IKEA’s AR app, IKEA Place (now known as IKEA Kreative), offers customers a chance to design and visualize their own living spaces. Using their personal digital devices, IKEA customers can place virtual furniture and decorations in their homes in real-time. This immersive experience helps customers “try before they buy” and make more informed purchase decisions.

Future of Immersive Marketing

Immersive marketing is not a fad: according to Polaris, the immersive technologies market is expected to reach multimillion USD by 2030 and undergo a mean annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.7%. With the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), immersive marketing is expected to become more personalized. Finally, immersive marketing will integrate with social media to provide users of platforms such as TikTok and Instagram with opportunities to shop without having to leave the apps.