Marketers have long used parties to reach consumers who might be interested in purchasing everything from apparel to kitchenware. These days, a variety of 283731_devassa_party_26042005_1consumer products companies are looking to make a big impression on customers who might influence their friends to make a purchase. Instead of relying solely on bloggers or social media, companies are using house parties. One of the country’s most successful tech product marketers – Microsoft – turned to party marketing this year to spread the word about its latest release  – Windows 7.

According to an article in Promo Magazine, one of the chief advantages of house parties, besides the personal setting, is that consumers interact “with the products the way they would on a daily basis in their own homes.” To ensure the success of these events, marketers often use experiential agencies or event planning firms to coordinate the details. These parties are usually connected with a new product release and a series of events may take place over the course of a day or a weekend to generate buzz on a regional or national scale. Large marketers may spend between $200,000 and several  million dollars on this effort.

A well-coordinated event requires careful planning. Party planners must select a host with the proper demographic and psychographic characteristics.  Kitty Kolding, CEO of House Party notes that successful hosts are “highly social, good at throwing parties and have a wide circle of friends and family who like to attend their parties.”  Additional preparations usually involve launching a microsite, sending out direct mail or e-mail, and putting in-store promotions in place. After the parties, which usually last between 4-5 hours, “[h]ighly engaged guests are converted to viral agents for the brand.”

Marketing parties are all about making a big splash in a concentrated time period and then generating waves of buzz about the brand or product over the course of several weeks. It’s one more tool marketers are looking to as the traditional and offline media world gets increasingly crowded.

[Source: Odell, Patricia. How Brands Like Microsoft Use Parties to Build Brands, Promo. 10.20.09]