College Student Turned Experiential Marketing Entrepreneur on the Value of Immersions vs. Impressions

Headshot of Nick Gardner

After graduating from Syracuse University and interning at Snapchat and Spotify, Julia Haber knew that there was something about in-person engagement that was missing from many brands. 10 pitch competitions later, Julia founded  WAYV, an experiential marketing company that brings retail pop-up shops to college campuses all over the country for brands like Lululemon, AT&T and Rent the Runway. Today on the show, we’re discussing experiential marketing do’s and don’ts, what brands can do to better reach Gen Z and the future of WAYV.

Heard on this Episode:

Adweek: Are there any ways brands can think about the ROI of an experiential event or pop-up shop beyond financials?

“Impressions are the opportunity to see something, but an immersion is the chance to incorporate something emotional, physical and actionable.”

Julia Haber: “I was speaking about this with a couple of my partners today because there’s something really emotional about an experience. And there’s no real way to quantify emotion, but there has to be. We’re partnering with Bentley University for this next tour and talking about how can we create a metric called an immersion, which is not an impression. Impressions are the opportunity to see something, but an immersion is the chance to incorporate something emotional, physical and actionable. So we’re thinking to incorporate an element that has some emotional data, like a conversation. How long were you talking to somebody in this space? What friends did you bring? Time spent?”

Why does experiential marketing appeal to Gen Z?

“Gen Z, everybody knows this is the generation to call BS on everything. So if you are just trying to manipulate them and get a sale or position yourselves in a certain way, there’s a really big inauthenticity play that comes along with that. So being completely transparent and having in-person connections is key in this generation for sure. We get so bombarded with digital that it’s hard to find the truth and that’s what everybody wants.”

What’s a current trend you’re seeing in experiential marketing and pop-ups that works?

“So in our experiences, all of the products that you would potentially be able to purchase are limited-edition, limited inventory and only available for the time period we’re alive. And that is a trend that we started to see with this ‘Yeezy phenomenon’ where things come in really hot and they run out and there’s a scarcity complex. But the only value in that is if the brand has brand equity and there is a level of connection to it.”

Nick is a video producer at Adweek and host of the Gen ZEOs podcast.