Canfest: A Case Study in Experiential Marketing

Just today an article was published in the USA Today travel section listing Canfest—an event that brings together microbreweries and large-scale corporations that produce canned beer—as one of the “Top 10 Reasons to Visit Reno.”  Now in its fourth year, Canfest was originally conceived by The Abbi Agency as an event to help leverage their client Buckbean Brewery’s brand as a premium brewer of canned beer.  How did Canfest grow to become such a notable event in just four years? Why is building an experience around your brand important?

In part two of my interview with social media specialists Constance Aguilar and Nicole Rose Dion of The Abbi Agency, we discuss how they came up with the idea for Canfest and what marketing strategies were leveraged to help build awareness for this popular annual event uniting craft beer brewers, beer enthusiasts, tourists, and the community at large.

Experiential Marketing

In a recent blog post I wrote entitled “Rendering Authenticity in an Experiential Economy” I discuss  the book Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want, written by James Gilmore and Joe Pine (Harvard Business School). In the book, the authors argue that the virtualization of life has led to a deep consumer yearning for the authentic. They point out the importance for companies to be able to grasp, manage, and excel at rendering authenticity (in part by creating the opportunity for genuine experiences), which is a pivotal element of brand-building.

In closing, when asked what she thought were the primary success factors for creating Canfest, Constance noted the importance of grassroots marketing (fliers, posters, pre-events, reaching out to fraternities on campus), key partnerships (The Reno Bike Project), social media as a marketing tool (i.e.  initiating a beer blogger contest that offered an all-expense paid trip to Reno for craft beer bloggers who wrote a post about the event), and teamwork  (having a strong team in place to  plan and execute an event).

Now it’s your turn: What are some of the experiences you’ve had with brands and how have these experiences affected your purchasing decisions or buying habits?

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