Experiential marketing seeks solutions amidst budget constraints

By Joseph Ekeng

In the landscape of marketing, experiential marketing stands out as a powerful tool for brands to engage with consumers on a deeper, more personal level. However, despite its potential to revolutionize brand engagement, the industry is grappling with a myriad of challenges, both globally and in Nigeria.

Experiential marketing, often referred to as engagement marketing or event marketing, revolves around creating immersive brand experiences that leave a lasting impact on consumers. From pop-up events to interactive installations, these experiences aim to evoke emotions, foster connections, and drive brand loyalty. Yet, despite its promise, the industry faces significant hurdles in gaining widespread adoption and recognition.

One of the primary challenges plaguing the experiential marketing industry is the lack of understanding of its true value proposition. Many marketers and brands still view experiential marketing as a novelty rather than an essential component of their marketing strategy. Tolulope Medebem, President of the Experiential Marketers Association of Nigeria (EXMAN), lamented this misconception, stating, “A lot of marketing people, a lot of client and brand people need to understand what experiential marketing is all about.”

This lack of understanding has made it increasingly difficult for experiential agencies to win clients and secure adequate budgets for their campaigns. Without a clear understanding of the benefits of experiential marketing, brands are hesitant to invest in immersive experiences, opting instead for more traditional forms of advertising.

Compounding these challenges is Nigeria’s economic downturn, which has led to tightened budgets and increased scrutiny of marketing expenditures. With consumers becoming more selective in their spending habits, brands are under pressure to deliver tangible results from their marketing campaigns. Medebem highlighted the financial challenges faced by agencies in 2023, noting, “One of the challenges we faced…was actually financing.”

As a result of these economic pressures, some experiential agencies have been forced out of business, while others have been forced to operate on smaller budgets, compromising the quality of their campaigns. This has led to the proliferation of briefcase agencies, individuals operating without proper infrastructure or expertise, further tarnishing the industry’s reputation.

To address these challenges and raise industry standards, EXMAN has embarked on a groundbreaking partnership with the prestigious Lagos Business School (LBS) to launch the Experiential Marketing Management Programme. This innovative initiative aims to equip agencies, brands, and young talent with the knowledge, skills, and insights needed to excel in experiential marketing.

Angela Makinwa, EXMAN’s Vice President, emphasized the importance of professionalizing the industry and nurturing local talent, stating, “This gives us the opportunity to teach young people about experiential marketing, help them through experiential marketing to create wealth, have a purpose, because every opportunity can be turned into a gold mine.”

The Experiential Marketing Management Programme, the first of its kind in Nigeria, covers a wide range of topics, including strategy development, event management, consumer psychology, and data analytics. By providing participants with practical skills and industry knowledge, the programme aims to empower them to drive innovation and deliver exceptional brand experiences.

In addition to addressing the immediate challenges facing the industry, the programme also aims to prepare participants for the future of experiential marketing. With the rapid advancement of technology and the growing importance of digital channels, experiential agencies must adapt to stay ahead of the curve.

Despite the rise of digital marketing, there is a prevailing belief among industry players that human creativity will remain paramount in experiential marketing. Olayiwola Jegede, EXMAN Publicity Secretary and Managing Director of IMMind Limited, expressed confidence in human creativity, stating, “Our job is still creatively secured and we can think outside the box.”

As the industry evolves, experiential agencies must incorporate digital elements and data-driven insights into their campaigns to stay relevant and competitive. By leveraging technology, agencies can create more personalized and immersive brand experiences that resonate with consumers on a deeper level.

Despite the challenges facing the experiential marketing industry, there is a sense of optimism among industry leaders about its future. With its ability to create meaningful connections and drive brand loyalty, experiential marketing has emerged as a critical strategy for brands seeking to stand out in a crowded marketplace.

Studies have shown that positive brand experiences significantly influence consumer perceptions and drive word-of-mouth promotion. According to research, over 80 percent of consumers say a positive brand experience influences their perception, while 72 percent will share these experiences with others.

In Nigeria’s youthful, expressive culture, experiential marketing resonates strongly when done right. Brands like Guinness, Airtel, Pepsi, and Red Bull have created defining experiential campaigns that have resonated with new consumer segments.

As Medebem notes, “With anything that has to do with experiential, EXMAN is very well known in Nigeria…they have an important role to play because they are the ones who are very close to the heart of the customers in terms of how they create experiences that will encourage more patronage and feedback to the brands.”

Despite its advantages, experiential marketing still faces hurdles in gaining mainstream acceptance in Nigeria. However, with initiatives like the Experiential Marketing Management Programme and a growing recognition of its strategic value, the future looks bright for experiential marketing in Nigeria. As Makinwa aptly puts it, the programme will enable practitioners to “retain that seat on the table” with brands by delivering data-led ideas and improving the bottom line.


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