How 3D Printing Can Change Experiential Marketing

Posted by Michelle Gallagher / August 12

Bespoke flavors in a flash. Mini-mes with serious style. Consumers as high-end designers. It seems there’s nothing 3D printing can’t accomplish, and the trend is making the jump from novelty to marketing game-changer. Here’s why what used to be the technology of the future is poised to leave a dynamic mark on experiential marketing:

It’s interactive

When hungry SXSW attendees used Oreo’s “Trending Vending” machines this year, they chose trending topics on Twitter as the inspiration for unique 3D-printed cookies. Select Coca-Cola fans in Israel saw “mini-mes” they created on a mobile app come to life in actual size thanks to 3D printers, and Belvita consumers saw their tweets turned into trophies via the same technology. It used to be that technology offered marketers the ability to turn their own fantasies into realities, but with 3D printing, the consumer becomes part of the equation in a tangible, often jaw-dropping, way. This interaction creates deep brand connections, encouraging ever-more innovative, sky’s-the-limit thinking.

It’s insanely high-end

Though 3D printers are entering the mainstream, consumer models are still relatively unknown. Using a 3D printer in a marketing campaign lends a high-end, exclusive feel, especially when the campaign does something on a grand scale or with interesting materials. Marketers would do well to learn from Volkswagen, who commissioned an interactive “Smoke Dress” to grace its International Motor Show booth in 2013. This creative use of 3D printing technology lent the automaker a unique on-trend cachet.

It’s seriously cool

Sometimes, marketing can feel like reinventing the wheel over, and over, and over, but 3D printing breaks that mold by adding a fascinating technology with jaw-dropping capabilities to the mix, and that combination can transform campaigns. Take it from Nike, who used 3D printing technology to create one-of-a-kind duffels and shin guards for elite soccer players in summer of 2014. The combination of exclusivity, design, sports fandom and 3D printing is a potent one–and one that will likely become even more common as brands search for a way to up their cool factor.

If the possibilities seem endless, it’s because they are. Yes, 3D printing is on the verge of becoming a household term–one that holds even more promise for marketers looking to up their experience quotient. Look for this trend to gain serious ground in 2014 and beyond.

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Michelle Gallagher
Michelle Gallagher
Director, Business Development
Michelle.Gallagher [at]