Virtual Reality, Indoor Snow, and Obstacle Courses: Experiential Marketing in Chicago

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Two weeks ago, we gave you a look at experiential marketing during Super Bowl VII. This week, we're taking you to Chicago, to the largest Auto Show in North America. If there's one takeaway we have from the Chicago Auto Show, it's that experiential marketing is becoming both more virtual and reality based at the same time - increasing the need for sophisticated data gathering and analysis. 

The Key Metric To Measure

Good experiential activities generate quality feedback. While event marketers can analyze a variety of variables with a DEEP platform, they really want to drill down on user engagement. That is why companies like Chevrolet and others make sure that the sensory inputs captured from a world-class virtual experience like their "Virtual Dynamics" display depicted above are actionable. 

In this exhibit, which remained standing room only throughout the first two days of the show, users could test drive a truck, large SUV, small SUV, or a car in a variety of environments. The seats provided a full range of motion and even dispensed "olfactory prompts" (i.e. scents) from the arm rests. Users were required to provide their post-experience feedback on variables that are often difficult to capture during an event - like, "how did it make you feel", "what did you see during your drive", etc. 

It all made leaving a business card or filling out a bingo card seem so last century. 

Chicago Auto Show Virtual Reality

As you can imagine, a state-of-the-art VR experience at this scale requires an equally sophisticated DEEP platform to help you leverage a whole new data set. because there is little doubt that an exhibit like the Virtual Dynamics Lab creates a memorable show experience, a DEEP platform helps you "keep the memories alive" on a 1:1 level as you nurture customer relationships. 

Engaging in the Real World

Before you run out and build a VR booth for your next big event, however, keep in mind that real, physical product demonstrations still matter. For a "live" look at the Ride & Drive experience, take a look at our exploration of the LA Auto Show. Consumers want  to try a new product in the real world and Ride & Drives remain the best "vehicles" for doing so. 

At the largest Auto Shows we are also beginning to see more companies adapt indoor live driving experiences for their off-road products: a concept first developed by Jeep. The KIA obstacle course was heavily attended in Chicago and data was generated with the same tools used to capture information from their outdoor Ride & Drives. 

Chicago Auto Show Obstable Course

What's Next, Fake Snow?

Another take on the "rugged outdoor" experience was provided by Nissan, who invited attendees to look over their new line of SUVs in a kind of "snow globe", complete with fake snow that felt cool to the touch. The ambiance it created was ideal for selling machines designed for winter, and offered exceptional opportunities for photo sharing. 

Chicago Auto Show Nissan Snow Globe

Other companies that offered sophisticated VR experiences of note included Volkswagen for their soon-to-be announced all-electric crossover (featured in our new EventAUTO video) and Acura's single user cockpit that provided a simulated experience in their new IMSA car. We noticed younger men of the Gran Turismo generation seemed to gravitate to this awesome exhibit. 

Chicago Auto Show Acura Virtual Reality Cockpit

While it may be nothing new that gamers like to drive insanely fast cars in cyberspace, the fact that you can engage these hermetic humans in the real world speaks to the power of strong, data-driven events. 

If you're interested in learning more about how software platforms manage automotive events, download this free whitepaper:

DEEP Whitepaper Three

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