How to create hype with your in-store brand activation

Customers step foot inside the store and they are bombarded with hundreds of options. 10 types of hair products, 20 brands that sell the same product with a different label, 7 different flavors, and scents for the same shampoo…

How can they choose? How can you make your product be the one they select and buy? Brand activation is the answer to all of your questions. 

While it might sound just like a common buzzword, brand activation is crucial for brands all over the globe. In a competitive market, it’s hard to get noticed, unless you are a huge worldwide known brand. 

Brand activation means offering customers an experience to increase brand awareness and engagement. You might be wondering what is the difference between brand activation and brand marketing. 

Well, while brand marketing also focuses on increasing awareness and engagement, it is an overall strategy that promotes and monitors the image of the brand. Brand activation tries to take the brand from a stage to another. For example, if you just rebranded your products, brand activation is the right move to show your customers the change. However, brand marketing is used for both rebranding, implementation, and customer feedback.

Types of brand activation

There are different ways in which you can “activate” your brand. Since we’ve mentioned that brand activation revolves around offering an experience, let’s start with our favorite type of brand activation: 

1. Experiential marketing, aka Retailtainment

Customers are looking for much more than products when they go shopping. That’s why brands need to make sure that they offer an experience. It’s not the easiest way to capture the attention of potential customers, but it’s the most impressive for sure. 

Experiential marketing is just like that grand, big gesture the lead male character does right at the end of the movie to get the girl. It’s surprising, it’s bold, and it makes you feel something. 

Just like in a love story, in this case with different characters, one character (the brand) needs to make a bold move to surprise the other character (the customer). A great example of retailtainment as brand activation is the one from TOMS. 

The brand actually managed to combine its brand marketing with experience marketing for an amazing brand activation in-store. In 2015, the brand equipped 100 stores with VR headsets. When the customers used the headsets, they were virtually transported to Peru to see the impact of the One for One giving campaign had on local people. With this brand activation, TOMS managed to offer an amazing experience and to show that they also give back to communities. 

2. Sampling campaigns

New products? What’s the best way to gather feedback from customers and also show them what you have to offer? Sampling campaigns. 

When they are done right, sampling campaigns have a big impact on sales. People are able to taste the products and decide if they want to purchase them. However, a sampling campaign needs to be implemented at the right time, place, and with the right audience. Nobody likes to receive samples on the street while they are in a hurry. 

For example, Lay’s had an amazing sampling campaign back in 2014. Every person who walked inside the store received a potato with directions. It might seem weird but stick with us. After they followed the instructions, they reached the snack aisle. There it was a potato machine waiting for them. With the help of a digital POP display, Lay’s showed customers exactly how their chips are made while also offering a small bag of chips at the end of the presentation. 


While COVID-19 stole another great thing from stores (food samples), there are different alternatives to sampling campaigns you can use for your brand activation. 

3. In-store brand activation

In-store brand activations are all about promotions, demos, and events. Since events are canceled - thanks again, COVID! - you will need to stick to promotions and demos for now. However, they don’t have to be boring. 61% of shoppers think surprise gifts and offers are the best way a brand can interact with them. While customers want gifts and better offers, they are also looking for a better experience. 

With the help of Tokinomo, you can surprise them, offer an experience, and promote a great offer, all at the same time. 

Just look at how Jameson managed to grab the attention of customers while also promoting their brand with the help of this shelf robot. 

A simple in-store brand activation might not capture the attention of customers. However, with the right tools, you can see that customers are not only interrupted, but they are also enjoying an amazing experience. 


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