Study: Marketing Events Increase Purchase Intent

NEW YORK Event marketing can increase a consumer’s purchase intent by up to 52 percent, according to the Advertising Research Foundation’s new study, “Engaging Events Pay Out.”

Purchase intent rose 11 percent to 52 percent among consumers who attended brand-sponsored events including sports championships, walkathons and theme park sponsorships.

Coca-Cola, Frito-Lay and State Farm were among the 12 companies that were studied across six different events. Harris Interactive, Rochester, N.Y., polled approximately 5,000 attendees online after the events’ conclusions to derive the results.

“We used two research firms and three different analyses and it all ended up at the same place—experiential marketing works,” said William Cook, svp, research and standards for ARF, New York.

Insurance can be boring. That’s why State Farm relies on sexy event partnerships with the likes of Nascar and Major League Baseball to bring its brand to life. “It’s an added opportunity to create awareness about your brand in relevant situations,” said Mark Gibson, assistant vp, advertising for State Farm, Bloomington, Ill.

Sports-related events have the greatest impact, according to the study. “It creates a presence that is unexpected, fresh and different,” said Gibson. “When done right, it goes beyond just raising awareness; it literally drives people to shop.”

This is especially true for business-to-business events. The purchase intent among consumers who interacted with a brand at a b-to-b event rose 34 percent. Of the 2,000 consumers polled who attended trade shows in the spring or summer, 20 percent said they would have purchased the brands who were exhibiting regardless of their attendance at the show. However, purchase intent rose to 54 percent when customers interacted with the 14 different brands studied, including Cisco, Dell and Microsoft, which were measured across four different events. The trade shows ranged in size from the Consumer Electronics Show to regional events. Gallup & Robinson and Exhibit Surveys conducted the online study.

This lift in purchase intent is significant considering nearly 50 percent of the time intent translates into sales, according to the study.

That’s big news in the current age of return-on-investment, when nearly $15 billion was spent on U.S. trade shows last year, according to the IEG, Chicago. Trade show spending is increasing roughly 6 percent a year, per Veronis Suhler Stevenson, New York.

Nearly half (46 percent) of attendees felt they had an emotional connection with the brand after interacting with it at a trade show. This was a 31 percent lift off of the 15 percent that would have made that claim regardless.

“The special value of events, sponsorships and trade shows has to be considered,” said Raymond Pettit, co-author and svp at MarketShare Partners in Los Angeles. “There are many connection points you can build at an event, whether it is emotional, aspirational or awareness building. It goes beyond just counting audience attendance.”

More research needs to be conducted to “really see the value of event marketing,” said Drew Livingston, owner of TrashTalkFCM, a Los Angeles-based nontraditional agency that also participated in the study. “The goal is to level the playing field with traditional media.”