Many people equate Customer Experience Management with Experiential Marketing.

However, in recent years, "experiential marketing" has become perceptually aligned with "marketing execution." This is because it largely focuses on developing highly visible, stimulating, interactive, and sensory-engaging environments in which products and services are showcased.

Accordingly, experiential marketing is an important component of CEM, but it isn't the whole enchilada.

The environments that experiential marketers focus on are diverse. You'll often find a large emphasis on shaping the walk-in experience of brick-and-mortar environments. This is done with the goal of creating more positive, intuitive, memorable, engaging, and pleasing environments which better engage, entertain, and support customers.

Some examples:

  • Museums and galleries. Because they focus on creating a sensory experience, museums and galleries like the Guggenheim, the Smithsonian, and the San Francisco MOMA have always had a high level of focus on how to create the proper experiential environment for visitors and have therefore been proactive in the application of new technology to both enhance experience and preserve works of art for future visitors.

  • Stores. Retail outlets that sell goods are placing increasing emphasis on developing more experiential environments. Visit REI and spend some time on the climbing walls available for public use. Walk in to a Build-A-Bear Workshop and create a custom toy, complete with a voice chip, for a friend or loved one.


Other, more obvious experiential retail environments include Apple Stores, Niketown, the American Girl stores. More subtle examples include Sephora, Anthropologie, Origins and Libby Loo.

  • Restaurants. It's not just about food anymore. Restaurants are getting into experiential game, as well. Almost all of us are familiar with the time-tested experience offered by Rainforest Cafe and Planet Hollywood. My five-year-old niece prefers Sushi Takahashi—a little dive sushi joint with a circular sushi bar and a train that delivers your (really yummy) food.

  • Nontraditional environments. There are more examples in less-obvious environments, like grocery stores such as Wegman's and Whole Foods. For a nontraditional example of great food shopping experience, visit Seattle's Pike Place Fish Market.


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image of Leigh Duncan-Durst
Leigh Duncan Durst (leigh at livepath dot net) is a 20-year veteran of marketing, e-commerce, and business and the founder of Live Path (