Transformative Customer Experience Insights from Austin


The Gist

  • Embrace influencer collaborations. SXSW Austin experience highlights the power of influencers in creating brand affinity and customer lifetime value. Brands should identify and partner with influencers who resonate with their target audience to humanize their brand and deepen customer engagement.
  • Enhance sensory experiences. The success of activations like Porsche’s “Full Service” at SXSW underlines the importance of engaging all five senses to create memorable and impactful customer experiences.
  • Encourage social sharing. Creating share-worthy experiences is crucial for word-of-mouth marketing in the digital age. SXSW Austin experience demonstrates that when customers are inspired to share their experiences on social media, it amplifies brand visibility and attracts new customers through a form of digital endorsement.

Austin Texas forever changed my life. Let me explain about my SXSW Austin experience.

How I Got to Know Austin

My first ever trip to Austin Texas was for a bachelor party in 2017 (I know, stereotypical). One of my good friends was getting married and at the time all of us were living in Massachusetts and decided that we should head “south by southwest” to the capital city of Texas for a weekend of cheap beer, laughs and fun times.

A Profound Effect

As we arrived and settled into our Airbnb — we couldn’t control our excitement. The entire weekend was filled with bouncing around between music venues, meeting new people and taking a trip to the lake for a boat day. We all knew that Austin was fun — but what I didn’t know was the profound effect it would have on me.

A Place of Inspiration

As we left and returned back to the Northeast and settled back into our lives — we still spoke of the stories from that weekend, how the city felt electric — filled with people from all over who just seemed as happy as could be. The feeling the city provided stuck with me — a yearning inside of me as a relatable feeling that can only be described as a nostalgic, serotonin filled jar of inspiration — just waiting to be opened again.

A Look Inward, and a Decision

Fast forward three years and a whole lot of looking inward at my own personal and professional growth goals — I made the decision that I wanted to move to a new part of the country — and as you may hypothesize, I picked Austin.

A red push pin is inserted into the dot for Austn, Texas, on a road map in piece about the SXSW Austin experience.
Fast forward three years and a whole lot of looking inward on my own personal and professional growth goals — I made the decision that I wanted to move to a new part of the country — and as you may hypothesize, I picked Austin.Alexander on Adobe Stock. Photos


It’s the feeling, the energy, the inspiration this city has. Everyone who is here, is here to do something great. All have goals and inspirations that are to do things that are beyond themselves, make the world better, feel inspired — grow. This city changed my life.

So it’s fitting that every year in March, the entire world descends upon the city for the SXSW Austin experience to do the same. Actors, filmmakers, musicians, creatives of every stripe. All embark on the journey to this place to “feel” the inspiration they so desire — and all leave with a sense of excitement of what could be.

The SXSW Austin Experience: Celebrity Encounters

The number of celebrities that attend the show each year appears to be increasing. During the 2023 SXSW event I was walking down the street when I noticed Paul Giamatti walking around trying to find a place to eat. I stopped and said “Hi Paul, big fan of your work — try the place on the corner, it has amazing crudo and cocktails.” We chatted for a few minutes, snapped a picture and went on our way.

This year — with stars like Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Gosling, Post Malone and others in town to promote their movies — the star meter uptick was significant. However, it’s not just the premieres — influencers and celebrities almost always have brands of their own. With that, many of them are out at local music venues or bars promoting their brand and simply just having a good time.

What makes this so special is that almost everyone you brush shoulders with is open and enthusiastic to have a few words with you. You can FEEL the energy they are getting from this city, this event — and brands love that. When an influencer or celebrity is tied to a brand — it helps that brand curate anthropomorphism amongst its consumers. This is critical to creating customer lifetime value and brand affinity.

Related Article: Weird Is Way Better: Why SXSW and Austin Are the Epicenter of Customer-Centric Inspiration

Spontaneous Serotonin

As a local, my favorite part of not having a badge is taking my e-bike out around town — and seeking out what brand activations, parties or events are going on that are open to the public. And maybe to your surprise — there are actually a TON of things that locals can attend. From Porsche’s “Full Service” brand event to the Tide activation house — all of these activities have one thing in common. They are spontaneous, and they get the serotonin cylinders firing.

Most things that go on during this event you hear about at the last moment, and in that fashion it creates another level of excitement — mixed up with the power of the “unknown.” You never know what you will see, who you will meet — and what each day of exploring will look like — but you will know one thing, it’ll be a ton of fun.

Related Article: Should Marketers Still Care About SXSW Interactive?

Pay It Forward

To be honest — my favorite part of SXSW is my ability to pay it forward. I, like many of the visitors who come to this inspiring city for the event, have a goal. We all actually have a set of common goals — to feel inspired, find new ideas and to think differently about whatever it is that fills up our “passion cup.”


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