Experiential- Road to Recovery

As the UK continues in its gradual re-opening, we look at how brands can utilise experiential in the coming months and where their focus should be placed.

We’ll explore why this will play a crucial role in inspiring consumer confidence, community engagement and the wider recovery of our industry and beyond.

EXPERIENTIAL VS DIGITAL FATIGUE

As the pandemic and lockdowns have continued over the past year, the rise in ‘pandemic burnout’ and ‘digital fatigue’ have widely reported to have risen hand in hand. According to a recent survey by YouGov, many consumers will be seeking to re-engage with brands in a physical environment again in the next 12 months, with 16% of Americans saying they are ’very likely’ or ’somewhat likely’ to attend an event organized by a brand in this period, rising to 24% amongst millennials.

A ‘hybrid event’ model of creative, personalized, physical experiential touchpoints that support digital will become increasingly important over the coming months, enabling brands to effectively place themselves at the centre of their target communities, extend their reach of campaigns and build confidence back into, and with, their audience.

 

 

THE RULE OF 6 & SMALL GROUPS

As we re-enter the ‘rule of 6’ phase of lockdown, a focus on enabling individual and small group activations with genuine connections for consumers should be at the forefront of a brands initial experiential strategy.

When pubs first re-opened in July, Stella Artois created a huge mural at Old Truman Brewery. The aim was for people to stand in differently-sized circle sections, accommodating various sized groups and members from multiple households. Utilising this space cleverly brought people together without barriers in a safe, impactful and creative way.

Taking a more hybrid approach, Kia recognised that the 2021 Australian Open was one of the first large-scale events to happen within the new, ‘post’ pandemic landscape. They created an anamorphic installation on giant, elevated screens positioned on two sides of a 12m shipping container based on Kia’s new vision statement, ‘movement that inspires’. When viewed from a specific point, visualisations would appear to break free – from a tennis ball hurtling out to an electric car coasting out of the screen – with the brand strategically using experiential to create an impactful experience, whilst considering the changed visitor experience.

WHAT SHOULD BRANDS FOCUS ON?

Brands can lead the fight against digital exhaustion by focusing and building their communities through experiential. The challenge will be to create impactful connections with consumers again in the physical space in targeted and specific areas, bringing brands to the consumers doorstep rather than vice versa.

For instance, in New York last year, florist Lewis Miller Designs held their annual ‘Flower Flash’, creating beautiful, colourful flower installations that ‘took over’ old bin cans and transformed lampposts into magical, photo friendly delights. Described as a ‘gift to New Yorkers’, Lewis said the installations ‘serve as a simple reminder that human connection is needed, and will come back again’.

Indeed, our sister agency, House of Experience, recently completed an activation for Gorillas for the launch of their new London grocery delivery service, with our focus firmly on the local. As part of the launch, we created colourful, community murals that people could enjoy on their walks.

THE FUTURE

As we all move back towards some sort of ‘normality’ in the world, it’s clear that there is an appetite amongst consumers to re-engage with brands in the physical space once more, although we know this may take some longer than others.

In the short term, brands should consider focusing on targeted, localised campaigns that engage their audience in a truly impactful way, with experiences that resonate with them. By activating as such, brands are placed in a unique position of having the opportunity to build trust and confidence back in both them and in larger society.