Experiential marketing is one of if not the most engaging and successful marketing tactics for brands in 2021 and beyond (pandemic, or no pandemic!). Events and experiential campaigns are 15 times* more successful than influencer marketing, and twice more successful than digital advertising. This probably explains why events, activations and PR ‘stunts’ ask for (and often receive) some of the biggest budgets!
What makes them so successful, even still in this highly digital and online world? Well, it all comes down to the fact that nothing beats face-to-face and in-real-life interactions and experiences with a brand, product or service. 98%* of consumers admit they feel more inclined to purchase a product after attending an activation or experiential campaign. Brand managers and B2B marketers alike (54%* of them) believe experiential marketing is effective in generating leads.
In-person or in-store experiences remain at the heart of brand activations and experiential marketing strategies. However, as the industry adapts to the evolving digital space, and the disruption of the pandemic on normal life, virtual experiences will integrate into these campaigns.
As we enter another round of uncertain territory in the world of events, marketing, business and life, here are 8 experiential marketing trends and strategies you need to know for 2021 and beyond.
Embrace small events
Large-scale events have taken a back seat for the moment, and whilst we can’t wait for these to return, in the meantime we will see brands embrace smaller and more boutique alternatives, offering a higher quantity of networking, activations and invite-only VIP events. Brands and marketers will be wise to engage their audiences through these styles of grassroots activations, focusing on highly targeted and curated experiences.
After spending so much time cooped up inside over the past 18-months, people are craving outdoor experiences and most importantly, open spaces. The industry is seeing a movement this year towards outdoor socially distanced events and campaigns. Activating your brand outside with natural ventilation and abiding by the per square metre capacity limits provides a greater sense of security for your visitors and customers, putting them at ease and allowing them the full enjoyment of in-person connections.
Back to brick and mortar
Coming out of lockdown, many consumers have altered their buying habits. Unable to travel too far or spend time browsing for the little luxuries and ‘non-essentials’, people are popping down the road and spending more of their dollars supporting local businesses.
For larger brands, 2021 and 2022 will see a rise in the comeback of localised pop up experiences, flagship stores and brick and mortar shops. They’ll be smaller in size but focused on driving experiential concepts that engage emotionally with customers and build a community that will ultimately increase their online growth and retail.
Dynamic unexpected locations
Whether your event is as simple as a product launch, or extravagant as a multi-day exhibition with brand ambassadors, partners, and all the bells and whistles, your chosen location can make or break it. Bold marketers are creating special experiences for their highly targeted audiences by activating in exciting, new and unique locations. Think abandoned amusement parks, airport hangars, museums, farms, and even factories! All popular choices for brands over the next 12 months.
On the move
Did someone say roadshow? In response to the pandemic, brands in 2021 are implementing mobile activations, allowing flexibility and avoiding large congregations of people. Utilising light or easy-to-move displays and personalised point of sale, brands are attracting consumers to experience their products and activations whilst out on the road or street – where people feel safer and more open to engage.
Tap into digital
AR, VR, AI and all the immersive technology acronyms! Augmented (AR) and virtual (VR) realities are still relatively new, however becoming more widely used by brands in their experiential marketing campaigns, offering customers a new, exciting and immersive way of engaging with products. These digital technologies are a fantastic way to create unique, shareable, meaningful and special experiences for your customers. This trend is only going to grow and evolve for years to come.
Whilst your guest list may be smaller, that doesn’t mean your results will be. Exciting and authentic brand experiences will be shared on social media – by either the brand or the guests or both. Encourage attendees to interact with your brand before and after the event with live chats, polls and real-time networking. Incorporating social media strategies and tactics into your experiential campaigns will ensure your brand reaches a much wider audience than just those on the guest list.
Saved by technology
Technology will be a key part of getting the events industry back up and running at full capacity. There have already been a range of creative innovations including masks with microphones, health trackers, air filtering and an array of touchless technologies too.
Rocked by the year of 2020 and the global pandemic, things are looking up (different, but up) for the experiential marketing industry, which is expected to grow by 6.1%** in 2021. So don’t let your brand go un-seen this year. From roadshows to sponsorship activations, pop up booths to retail displays, DisplayWise can work with you to develop a great space for your next campaign or activation.
Talk to us today about your next experiential campaign or activation.
*Statistics by Finances Online
**Statistics by PQ Media