In Brief

Digital and physical activations from festivals to book clubs bring fans closer to the brand, moving beyond product offerings to offer social events that foster engagement and drive awareness

Inviting and syncing audiences to real-life event series and digital opportunities can encourage brand fans to participate in experiences that bring them together around pillars of the retailer.

Brands are increasingly maneuvering to act as both a partner and a platform, offering access to programs, initiatives and tools that allow consumers to connect and participate on a deeper level. Here’s how retailers from Lululemon to Buzzfeed are driving awareness and engagement with brand-themed social events and activations: 

Lululemon
Seawheeze, Lululemon’s annual half-marathon fitness festival in Vancouver, is now in its 7th year and caters to 10,000 participants. The experience brings together the brand’s most ardent fans for an immersive experience that includes running, post-race yoga and a music festival. For those that join, perhaps the most important part of the journey is the ability to purchase limited-run Lululemon merchandise—merchandise that serves as signifier for brand loyalists that puts them at the center of the Lululemon culture.

SEPHORiA: House Of Beauty by Sephora
The ‘SEPHORiA: House of Beauty,’ from beauty retailer Sephora, is a two-day experience that provides beauty fanatics education, inspiration and immersive and shareable moments. The consumer-facing event hosts more than 50 beauty brands in interactive rooms that merge the physical and the digital experience, featuring product customization, master classes, Q+As, celebrity appearances, beauty services and gift bags. Guests also have the opportunity to meet with influencers, brand founders and other industry pioneers as well as attend classes and take home personalized products.

Hello Games
Indie studio Hello Games is releasing a free Visions update for its action-adventure survival game No Man’s Sky, which introduces global community missions. Anyone playing NMS can contribute progress toward a shared goal, incentivizing games to play even if they’ve already checked off all their personal goals.

Kimpton Hotel
The Kimpton Everly Hotel, located in Los Angeles, is engaging in a social experiment to understand human connection. The project—titled “Room 301”—is a single room in the Kimpton Everly Hotel, that will be open for reservations through November. Guests are encouraged to engage with several in-room activities like writing their deepest confessions on the wall, filling out responses in the room’s guest book or leaving a video diary on a shared iPad. At the end of the three months, the hotel will use the stories and behaviors as insight into the relationships between complete strangers whose only interaction is a shared experience of a space.

Buzzfeed
BuzzFeed launched a Book Club for the community’s most avid readers. Once monthly, BuzzFeed Books selects a brand-new book for members to read together. They announce the selection with enough time for readers to purchase and receive the book, and members of the community are then encouraged to chat about the book in the BuzzFeed Book Club Facebook group. The facilitated and free form discussion includes opinions, character discussion, plot predictions and Q&As with the book authors. Members also get one newsletter a week that includes exclusive content from the authors, giveaways and more.

These are just a few examples of how brands are curating collective experiences for consumers. For more examples, download PSFK’s Cultivating & Encouraging Digital And Physical Fan Communities report.

Inviting and syncing audiences to real-life event series and digital opportunities can encourage brand fans to participate in experiences that bring them together around pillars of the retailer.

Brands are increasingly maneuvering to act as both a partner and a platform, offering access to programs, initiatives and tools that allow consumers to connect and participate on a deeper level. Here’s how retailers from Lululemon to Buzzfeed are driving awareness and engagement with brand-themed social events and activations: