Trend Report

Top Experiential Trends 2023

 

After another exciting year for live brand experiences, we’ve gathered together some of the top experiential trends we see popping up in 2023.

In the following report, we’ve collected our top tips and predictions for the world of experiential marketing in 2023, exploring key areas of change that we’re likely to see in the next twelve months in the experiential space.

 

From Digital to Physical

As more retail spaces become vacant due to economic uncertainties and brands experiment with where they sell their product, opportunities will continue to arise for digitally native brands seeking to dip their toes into physical retail. Brands like Gymshark have shifted their digitally engaged community to a new flagship in Regent’s Street through the implementation of an experiential retail model that Gymshark describe as being ‘about experiential spaces that bring the conditioning community closer together than ever before – from special events and community hangouts to workout spaces and more.’

As we emerge from the last few years of the pandemic, brands such as Casper are re-evaluating their sales models, shifting their attention to the US market rather than Europe, through the creation of a series of pop-up spaces like Casper’s Dreamery space in New York that lets customers book a pod for a nap while testing the brand’s mattress.

Strengthening the relationships between customers and brands, those once only operating in the digital space are shifting their attention to more physical and IRL shopping experiences, driven in part by the convenience factors of e-commerce facing increasing fulfilment difficulties and other delays that consumers have grown unaccustomed to.

“Consumers enjoy shopping online for the speed and variety of product availability, but if they’re met with friction along the way, such as delayed shipping or out-of-stock items, the e-commerce experience loses its original value.” – Lisette Huyskamp (CMO at Productsup) via Forbes.

Furthermore, the higher retail vacancy rates we have been seeing are leading to a shift in more favourable commercial lease terms, as the added rise in the cost of digital advertising is driving some brands to look to physical retail to lower their overall costs for customer acquisition. In 2023, we will see more and more merchants utilise experiential physical retail to drive foot traffic and overall customer loyalty. Traditional digital-first retailers are now reexploring their omnichannel strategies, offering a new wave of click-and-brick shopping experiences.

Sustainability 2.0

In 2023, sustainability is far more than just replacing plastic bottles with reusable ones. Brands need to show how they are striving to place sustainable practice at the heart of their businesses and present this to their consumers in a clear way. A great way to do this is through experiential marketing, such as Heineken’s Greener Bar concept, utilising new building methods and technologies that are focused on improving the reuse and recycling/upcycling of materials. The concept aims to help reduce water, waste, energy use and emissions through the creation of a sustainable pop-up bar for the events industry.

Telling a brand’s story, with a particular focus on the core sustainable values they hold, can be achieved to great effect through the creation of a modular experiential pop-up. It can also act as a community hub for brands seeking to promote their products without the overhead of a physical carbon-heavy environment, drawing in consumers who might otherwise not have the opportunity to experience IRL product interaction.

A fantastic example of this is Figure Eight’s latest sustainable pop-up in Soho, a luxury boutique that brings together a curated selection of green and vegan brands. The shopping space also hosts interactive events such as regular activations with artist and activists, including a panel discussion titled “Fashion’s Role in Climate: Challenges and Solutions,” moderated by multimedia artist DJ Spooky, who creates music and art inspired by motivating change in the climate fight.

Nomadic Brand Experiences

2023 will see more consumers identified as tribes, fragmented and elusive to brands chasing footfall. It is no longer enough to create a targeted mailing campaign, something that a lot of companies are beginning to realise and take into their own hands, taking their product direct to the consumer rather than relying on consumers to come to them.

We’ve seen a number of luxury brands do this really well, creating pop-ups at exclusive resorts and areas of interest for their HNWI consumer base. An example of this is Giorgio Armani’s recent pop-up in Portofino, Liguria, a floating shop that carries the latest Giorgio Armani Mare beachwear, as well as linen dresses and silk trousers and a range of accessories. The Spinnaker x Armani pop-up is characterised by distinctive brand colours given a marine twist, selling direct to a nomadic community of high spenders on holiday seeking a luxury experience.

Another brand to achieve success with his model is Christian Louboutin who recently opened a branded beach pop-up store in London’s Selfridges department store, a target for consumers of the brand. The ‘Loubi’s on the Beach’ temporary space allowed shoppers to purchase luxury leather goods, shoes and accessories from their summer collection, partnering with illustrator Konstantin Kakanias to draw the attention of its audience.

The above starts to make even more sense when we consider the lipstick index (a phrase coined by Estée Lauder’s Leonard Lauder), the idea that sales of affordable luxuries rise in economic downturns, driving spending behaviours that seem to be prevalent during a financial crisis. Brands that target their consumers by offering luxury accessories and moments of experiential, accessible joy will see their brand loyalty rise in 2023.

Metaverse Moments

We are right at the cutting edge of Metaverse activation, with the last few years seeing an increased rise in marketing spend that utilises metaverse models and environments. A recent survey from CX management company Sitecore demonstrated a phenomenal 91% of marketers seeking to invest in the metaverse over the next five years. One of the most significant reasons for this is that the metaverse essentially acts as a creation space that can replicate real world retail environments in new and exciting ways for consumers all over the world. This removal of geographic boundaries for potential sales allows customers to try out digital items within a fully 3D environment before moving the path of purchase along an e-commerce funnel.

“One of the things we learned is that consumers are expecting brands to have evolved to the Metaverse.” Paige O’Neill, CMO, Sitecore.

The social element of the metaverse allows for community creation and social shares, encouraging consumers to explore the space with friends and create loyal brand champions in the process. A particularly poignant example of this is the recent collaboration between clothing brand Charli Cohen and Pokémon to launch the 25th anniversary of the game with a partnership with Selfridges and Yahoo’s Ryot Studios. The 360-degree video experience created a cyberpunk environment where shoppers could create customised avatars with brand clothing and purchased digital garments viewed via an AR body-tracking lens.

In 2023, we will see more brands tie together digitally exclusive offerings with digital wallets and IRL purchases, investing in virtual infrastructure to cater to a rise in consumers expecting more streamlined phygital shopping experiences

Personalisation

For brands beginning to explore experiential marketing techniques, 2023 will be the perfect moment for the creation of a personalised activation that showcases the brand to new and existing audiences in a way that appeals to them as an individual. Shifts in more emotive marketing and the offer of personalisation for consumers seeking to show off a brand and still stand out have been growing in the experiential world.

Whether it’s Burberry Bespoke (which allows customers to personalise the colour and style of the brand’s classic trench coat), or Gucci’s DIY service (a new tool that offers customers the chance to add personalised letters to classic tote bags and trainers), big brands are choosing to create options for increasing personalisation that allows consumers to express their uniqueness and enhance user experience in physical stores.

In a world where standardisation is often the go-to for brands selling to a variety of audiences, the ability to carve out niche consumer communities is a huge win for repeat business and brand loyalty.

In regard to experiential retail, brands are beginning to experiment with in-store personalisation zones that encourage consumers to experiment with emerging tech to design something that feels distinctive to them, ultimately increasing dwell time, spend and consumer happiness. Taking the example of Gucci’s DIY service, the tool (which combines 3D computer-generated imagery with real product photography) is available in their brick-and-mortar retail Wooster Space in New York as well as on their website, with the fashion house seeking to roll out to other flagships soon.

 

For more on Undercurrent’s work as an experiential marketing agency, click here.