A version of this article originally appeared on freeman-emea.com.
The UK events industry thrived last year — the Bellwether report, a great indicator of the growth of the sector, reported a rise in event marketing spend across all four of its quarterly reports. The recently released Q4 2016 installment highlighted a 12 percent rise.
Now that the rush of the New Year is behind us, it’s a good time for marketers to look at how they can leverage the effectiveness of brand experience to connect with their audiences in authentic, relevant, and measurable ways. So where to start? Be sure you’re well-versed on the following five key trends and techniques.
The need for personal, not just emotional connections
Since the beginning of time, the most successful brands have been those that don’t treat their products like commodities — they position them in ways that emotively connect with audiences. As consumers become more selective, they’re choosing to pay more attention to advertising and marketing promotions that relate to them on a truly personal level only. Companies increasingly seek marketing mediums like brand experience as it allows them to engage with audiences more deeply. Brands that engage with consumers on an individual level will create emotional connections with them in a much more memorable and effective way. The live space allows us to deliver personalised brand experiences that fulfill each and every person's unique wants and needs.
All-encompassing expertise: It’s on brands’ radar
Over the past few years, we’ve seen brand experience agencies become more central to the modern marketing approach. Now brands aren’t only seeking agencies to fulfill their traditional marketing needs, they want to work with agencies that can bring fresh thinking and creativity to their projects in the physical environment, too. As more brands come to realise the power of brand experience, they are eager to partner with agencies that can provide a full-service campaign offering, from creative ideation through to production and amplification pre-, during, and post-event. Given the nature of the booming brand experience sector, I see brands’ need for these kinds of agencies continuing to increase throughout the year.
The rise of the glocal brand experience
From what I’m seeing, brands will continue to execute international strategies this year. This means they’ll need to develop a cohesive global marketing strategy that is adaptable and relevant to each of its local communities and cultures. In the context of event marketing, we’ll need to be able to respond accordingly, creating brand experiences that are transferrable across multiple countries and cultures.
Live, social video for brands
At last year’s Social Media Summit in London, there was a lot of emphasis on live video platforms, and for good reason — in 2016, we saw the launch of Facebook Live and Instagram Stories, plus Snapchat continued to rise in popularity. The likes of Airbnb, Land Rover, and National Geographic have embraced the tech with open arms, as it offers their audiences the chance to experience the brands in a new way. What’s great for our sector is that these tools can be used to broadcast brand experiences live as they happen, so that audiences can tune in regardless of their location. It can also be used post-event to showcase highlights, effectively extending the life and reach of the event — which means greater exposure and return on investment for brands.
The rise of VR and AR
We’ve all been witness to the rise of virtual reality (VR) as a slew of brands have incorporated it in their live experiences in the past. On top of that, thanks to the hype surrounding last year’s launch of Pokémon Go, pretty much everyone has experienced augmented reality (AR). While these technologies aren’t new, they are far more accessible and affordable than ever before, so I predict we’ll see brands of all sizes incorporating them into their brand experiences. On top of that, the quality of the experiences that VR and AR can create are constantly improving, meaning companies are now able to immerse consumers in brand worlds that are more realistic than ever.
Live events provide consumers with the chance to engage with brands in ways that cannot be achieved by other forms of marketing, and as reports such as Bellwether reveal: demand for event marketing services continues to grow. As consumers’ desire for real life, interactive experiences shows no signs of slowing down, and brands look to engage with their target audiences in fresh new ways that really build relationships and trust, the brand experience sector is set to shine once more in 2017.