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From China and Beyond: Mapping an Experience Journey Toward Tomorrow

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Dionne Holder

Dionne Holder

Managing Director, Freeman XP China

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Why harnessing storytelling and disruption today could hold the key for gaining valuable relationships tomorrow

As marketers, we are charged with making every experience a journey that meets our audiences where they want to be and leads them forward. Working in China and around the world, I see the business of brand experience through a global lens. I use this worldview to assess the marketplace from coast to coast for hints about what the future may hold for our industry.

Along the way, I’ve learned that each city and region has its own nuances and differences, especially when it comes to target audiences. But the cities do have one thing in common — audiences across the globe all want a special, individual experience, no matter how big or small it might be, and that isn’t likely to change. They look for value in what a brand can offer them, and they want to make a personal connection that benefits them. That’s why putting storytelling at the base of what we do is so important today and tomorrow. 

Digital Disruption and the Evolution of Experiences

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Digital Disruption and the Evolution of Experiences

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Digital disruption creates a better experience

With a pulse on future needs and behaviors, China leads with innovations that tend toward disruption — just look at how quickly online payments became popular, and now how deeply embedded WeChat and other apps are in sending money, making payments, and even investing. That’s incredibly disruptive to banks, who then have to turn around and figure out how to make themselves relevant to today’s connected consumer who will continue to change as technology evolves. This means we must continue creating experiences that blend digital environments to forge meaningful connections. This trend of becoming disruptive innovators, innovating before someone else does it for us, is something we are talking about a lot in our business. 

The sharing economy is equally disruptive, offering people the kind of authenticity that they aren’t going to find with car rental services or hotels. People are driving less and less, relying on car and ride sharing to avoid the hassle and expense of owning a car. And hotels in beautiful locations are struggling against services like Airbnb that don’t just offer people a place to stay — they can now create a whole travel experience, from exploring Cape Town with a fashionista to cooking an authentic meal with a chef in the South of France. 

Content allows creativity to spread

Social media has opened the creative door for a new generation of content creators. Whether they realize it or not, people on social channels across the world are all publishers. We publish things every single day about what we’re interested in and what we know, and we enjoy when others interact with what we create. It’s a kind of creativity that people don’t even think about because it’s become so ubiquitous with everyday life. That culture of creativity will lead the way to a more authentic and decentralized environment that invites and supports meaningful engagement through self-expression and personal discovery.

That’s why brands need to think about what content they’re putting out, what stories they’re telling, and what creative ways they’re encouraging people to share and participate. Appealing to our creative sides is what really makes a connection between people and brands. And keeping up that stream of relevant content deepens the relationship and gives our audiences the value they’re seeking. This speaks directly to the curated experience audiences crave, one that is meaningful, memorable, and personalized to their wants, needs, and interests.

As our industry evolves and moves forward, it’s up to us to harness the disruptions and creativity we encounter; rather than becoming intimidated, we must truly embrace the future and provide people what they seek. Brands must be brave, try new things, and implement innovative technologies as they come. Oftentimes, the unproven options hold the most value when mapping out a unique experience journey that captures the audience’s attention and deepens the relationship.

For more perspectives on our Global Outlook, download the insights paper: Tomorrow, Today: The Future of Brand Experience

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