5 trends set to drive brand experiences in 2021
The ways consumers engage with brands has shifted significantly over the last 12 months. For 2021, the best marketers will continue to evolve their brand experiences to meet consumer expectations. Here are some clues as to how and what they’ll change.
1. Large-scale outdoor events made for broadcast
With large-scale physical events being impossible during the worst of the lockdown periods, many brands turned to virtual events to maintain a connection to consumers. And while in-person events are coming back on line, many organisers are keen to continue to exploit the advantages of the virtual event by integrating it with the physical event format to offer a hybrid product.
"Moving an event to a virtual landscape opens up the potential audience size, which can then be leveraged into stronger overall attendance and sales as well as increased attendance at future events,” says DPR&Co Digital Manager, Madeleine Kemp. “By embracing the learnings of the past 12 months, brands can achieve the best of both worlds – greater brand reach and, over time greater brand connections.”
“An example of is Victoria’s Caravan Industry” said Madeleine. “DPR&Co’s campaign for the Caravan and Camping Virtual Show attracted over 72,000 registrations and 67,363 attendees – over three times the attendance of a normal physical show. We’re now looking to bring that audience back for future shows – in either a virtual or physical sense.”
The campaign and full case study can be found here.
2. Making physical spaces digitally explorable
Hybrid experiences allow high levels of interaction with digital spaces, meaning that consumers can create their own journey through digital environments.
Paul Stanway, creative director at XYZ, explained that in the creation of their hybrid virtual experience platform Connector, they wanted to replicate the elements of live experiences that most resonated with people.
"It's never been enough just to hear about what someone else did, we need to see and feel for ourselves. It's these interactions and reactions that make the experience real to us.
"The social and sensory elements, the accidental encounters with other people, the feeling when an experience almost overpowers your senses, these were all what made people spend, often significant amounts of time and money on live experiences."
For Levi's FW21 collection launch, guests received physical, sensory invitations that turned into indigo seed planting boxes. Online guests, meanwhile, could interact with a physical space that displayed the latest collection woven into an AR layer of multi-language interactive content. Participants were able to choose what they engaged with and how they navigated the space.
3. There's more to the store
For years we have been hearing about the death of the high street and Covid-19 has dealt a further blow to struggling retailers. Even Oxford street stalwart Topshop has been put up for sale. As a new normal begins to emerge, it's more important than ever for retailers to rethink their physical spaces, Sulmaan Ahmad, head of strategy at TRO, said.
"Those that rebuild it will be the businesses that grasp the true value of physical store spaces: as a shared experience," he said.
"Where the store is not merely a transactional space, but a social one; a broadcast worthy destination; an interactive media channel that drives salience and relevance among a community."
Nordic Spirit turned its store location on Argyll Street, Soho into an immersive Nordic experience. "Nordic Spirit Nights" featured a forest under artificially recreated Northern Lights, alongside socially distanced Nordic Noir film screenings, DJ sets and exclusive dining experiences.
Ahmad continued: "As the UK works its way back to some form of normality and lockdown begins to ease, social distancing can be an opportunity for a more VIP in-person experience in-store, which can be shared with wider audiences through online content creation."
4. Vehicle-driven experiences
Drive-in experiences really gained speed in 2020 due to the inbuilt ease with which they could incorporate social distancing. The car as a method to facilitate an experience continued with Secret Cinema delivering a drive-through style Stranger Things experience in LA.
Vehicle-based experiences sat perfectly between embracing the freedom we had during summer, while still considering safety, according to Fran Derry, managing partner at Iris.
"Drive-in cinema experiences like Suzuki Drive In offered a way of getting some much-needed entertainment in your own social bubble – the perfect solution!" she said.
"I think these are here to stay and we'll see them re-emerge over the spring/summer. Apart from the safety element people really enjoyed the novelty and nostalgia of them.
"And, with fun on lockdown now and for the foreseeable months I think we are going to see a real rise in brands creating vehicle experience for good."
5. High virtual footfall opportunities
In-game concerts not only provide an experience to audiences seeking at-home entertainment options but also allow for large crowds to engage within a virtual environment they are already familiar with. Much like a store on a busy street the benefit to partnerships with games such as Fortnite is the ensurance of footfall.
Simon Moriarty, director of Mintel Trends, EMEA, said: "The impact of the pandemic and continued innovation in technology has meant that experiences continue to change and the role digital entertainment plays in fostering positivity and connecting people is of particular importance."
Real musicians, whose live performances are restricted, can perform to crowds without the boundaries of geographical locations.
Travis Scott's shows in Fortnite garnered 27.7 million views, while spectators each had control of their experience and the ability to get a 360 view by exploring the environment. There is also the ability to generate content that can live on outside of the virtual environment.
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