The experience industry is constantly evolving and being shaped by the technology and trends that are becoming accessible to the everyday consumer. Whilst 30 years ago a corporate event meant a table in a hotel function room covered in pamphlets, in 2020 we’re seeing the sector transform beyond recognition as experiences are taken to new heights. It’s now becoming an industry standard to see immersive theatre, festivals and multinational events replacing corporate style conferences as brands rush to take the forefront of the experience industry.
Our recent study found 63% of marketers plan on increasing the number of live events they organise in 2020, and so the methods they are using will undoubtedly require more innovation, personalisation and uniqueness. An experience should seek to enrich the life of the person involved and make them feel as though they are part of a community; this is ultimately what makes an experience valuable.
This blog post will explore what trends are upcoming in this fast-paced and exciting industry, with everything from methods of data capturing, sustainability and augmented-reality.
Trend 1: Greater transparency from brands on sustainability
Consumers are becoming more and more conscious of sustainability in their purchasing habits, with 48% of senior marketers predicting that in 2020 brands will be more transparent about their sustainability goals.
‘Green-washing’ is becoming more of an easily identifiable trait in brand messaging, and as a result businesses need to make their sustainability goals clear and measurable. This might include striving towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which create a blueprint of achievable sustainability goals for brands to aspire to in 2020. At Marble we are working towards achieving ISO20121 and ISO14001 certifications by the end of April 2020, meaning that firstly our events will have a positive social, economic and environmental impact, and secondly that we’re achieving an international standard of best practice in terms of how environmentally friendly we are as a business. Once in force, every event will have a Sustainability Action Plan and all of our suppliers will have to comply with the specific requirements too.
As a result, we’ll see a shift in the materials used during and post-event, as well as their disposal. And with our suppliers on board too we’re hoping that we’ll inspire tangible positive change in our sector, with other event agencies likely to catch onto the trend in the near future.
Some of our suppliers are already on board: our friends and frequent collaborators, Orca Sound Project, have become leaders in the production of sustainable event materials, with their ‘Orca Boards’ made of 100% recycled ocean plastic collected from beaches across the world. These boards can be used in various production elements to reduce the need for non-recyclable materials. Read more on our collaboration with Orca Sound Project here.
So, with 32% of marketers predicting that there will be a reduction of non-sustainable event materials, brands must think outside the box to incorporate innovative and exciting sustainable materials into their events this year.
Trend 2: Wider use of VR and AR technology
Immersive technology is already an essential part of experiential marketing, but the actual equipment is rarely accessible to the wider public – the cost is still high and the technology is still being trialled by brands. However, in 2020 it is likely that we will see a wider implementation of innovative technology systems, with AR and VR in particular becoming a focal point of experiential marketing and conferences.
As found in our report, 37% of senior marketers predict seeing a growth in immersive technology in future experiences, and AR and VR technology will be the facilitators of this change. This kind of innovative equipment can also be used to draw in wider audiences, giving them the chance to engage in ground-breaking new technology and engage with brands in dynamic and immersive ways. In addition to data capture through tech themed interactions, event planners can also monitor attendee behaviour by measuring ROI through mediums like traffic flow around the venue and participation engagement.
Technology will begin to bridge the gap between consumer and brand, on and offline, and help forge connections as experiences become embedded in the fast-paced world of technology.
Trend 3: Events will become personalised to the consumer
One of the biggest challenges for event planners is to find ways to engage their attendees prior to, and during, their event – and so the personalisation trend will gather much more speed in 2020. Consumers are happy to exchange a small amount of their data for a more rewarding tailored experience.
Secret Cinema are leading the way with this; attendees are given characters before they arrive after filling out a short survey pre-event, helping the producers to create a uniquely tailored customer experience. Tech conferences also use surveys to collect feedback from attendees and this helps shape the keynote speaker topics in later events.
Marketers are also increasingly seeking ways to capture attendee data in order to personalise their experience and make it feel as though the brand is speaking directly to them. In turn this streamlines their marketing strategy as events are used to better understand their audience segments.
The benefit of personalisation for attendees is that events will become more enjoyable and immersive, as 27% of senior marketers are taking more of an interest in forging emotional connections between the brand and the consumers. Attendees can be taken on a journey – modelled on the ‘festival’ and the concept of immersiveness – where consumers can move freely through a space and explore different elements of an event to make it feel like their own space. Giving consumers choice and control will prove the most successful result of event personalisation in the future.
Additionally, brands will be making their experiences more relatable – and therefore more memorable – in the hope of gaining a broader consumer base. And clearly it works, as 70% of users become regular customers after an experiential marketing event.
Trend 4: Events become more quantifiable
Traditionally it’s been more difficult to prove ROI for events in comparison to other marketing channels, but now more widely accessible event technology is making it achievable to measure the success of an event in a quantifiable way. Revenue or leads have traditionally been used to measure the success of an event, however now there are multiple objectives which can help you measure an event’s success, for example gaining a better understanding of your consumer LTV, increasing brand awareness and share of voice, brand perception and reaching a new demographic.
84% of marketers say that attendee engagement solutions are the biggest trend in maximising event success, so we need to generate ways to engage audiences in immersive activities and measure this engagement with smart technology platforms.
Some examples of this might include pre-event meeting booking, as well as in-event digital activations and gamification, which all coordinate attendee data into a centralised system. For event planners, a key measure of success continues to be working with clients to ensure they can justify their branded experiences to their stakeholders, and tailoring the event to deliver on their KPIs.
All statistics from Marble LDN’s State of the Experience Industry report. To download, click here.