‘The best is yet to come’. A slice of optimism uttered (almost always) in the most pessimistic moments. Some might call it cliche, others might call it wishful thinking. But, when it comes to experiential marketing, proximity to the light at the end of the tunnel is very close.
However, what we knew (and loved) about the experience is no longer what it used to be. Not only has it been disrupted by the pandemic, but it has evolved as a result.
Undoubtedly, the evolution presents both challenges and opportunities, but with South Africans hungry for experiments and the national state of disaster nearing its much-appreciated end, those opportunities outweigh those challenges.
Some of the latest data is starting to show that the theories we were talking about a year ago now have seriousness when it comes to consumers, with a more marked shift towards in-person interactions and unique experiences.
It boils down to a feeling of great fatigue on all fronts. Lockdown fatigue caused by ever-changing restrictions and limitations. Digital fatigue from remote work and a consistent connection to content. Mental fatigue born of the stress created by a struggling economy, shrinking share of wallet and lackluster and inconsistent service delivery, which makes life even more difficult.
Even as we adjust to a more optimistic future of post-pandemic life, the consequences of fatigue on its various stress points will collectively stay with us for some time.
As the market continues to prioritize “experiences over things,” we foresee a few opportunities across experience and what 2022 might hold:
With the pandemic forcing more and more consumers to go online, platforms such as Roblox and Fortnite have grown in popularity and spawned a new kind of immersive experience that is slowly but surely building in the metaverse. Where physical experience is sensory, digital experiences offer entirely new possibilities, both on the platform and augmented by physical touchpoints.
These platforms allow us to transport audiences to entirely new environments where the limitation of physical events simply does not exist.
Once staples of the experiential toolkit, these “retail” experiences – in permanent and temporary form – will once again become a valuable platform for brands to explore. Even as consumers continue to migrate online to stores (e-commerce grew locally by 66% in 2020 alone), the role of retail in the future will be more experience-driven with goods and services that bring novelty and value to customers.
This is in addition to temporary pop-ups that are becoming increasingly relevant as one-time activations to engage consumers. Locally, brands will further tap into the cultural conversation by borrowing cues from streetwear activations across these spaces.
There is no doubt that hybrid events have had both successes and failures across various brands. However, the benefits of virtual amplification – increased reach, low barriers to entry, unique digital content/journeys – make it an attractive proposition for local brands to continue exploring.
Hybrid events bring a host of metrics marketers can use to measure performance and bridge the gaps between digital and experience. Hybrid events will evolve to be complemented by more physical touchpoints around existing products or campaign-specific drops, driving more innovative consumer engagements.
2022 will be many things for many people, some good and some bad. But there is no doubt that 2022 will be the year of the experiential, and as we said from the start – the best is indeed yet to come.
Jordan Major is a strategist and senior writer who believes in the power of collaborating with culture to connect brands with their customers. In his role at RAPT Creative, he works alongside the creative studio to ensure all work is informed by insights and data to ensure work is executed holistically in unique territories and across channels. relevant. His Twitter account is //twitter.com/JordanMajor.
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