Experience More in the Next Normal: Brand Activism as Differentiator

July 2021

Experience More was among the megatrends most heavily impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. However, consumers’ desire for the experiential did not fade, instead it transferred online to digital platforms like Zoom and Fortnite. Post-pandemic, the key pillars of Experience More remain true: living it, enhanced product and lasting engagement. The biggest transformation is the need for experience brands to walk the walk when it comes to activism and empower their loyal consumers.

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Key findings

Experience no more?

The pandemic initially sounded the death-knell for in-person experiences, as physical contact was severely restricted, especially for non-essential activities, leading to high levels of uncertainty about the future of experiential retailing, live events, travel and hospitality.

Digital twist

Yet, the desire for fresh and fun experiences remained paramount, as consumers showed great resilience to the challenges of the new normal, switching in-person for virtual. Everything from lifestyle classes and concerts, to shopping, art and education got a new digital makeover.

Creative living

Post-COVID-19, living it does not mean skimping on the quality of the sensory, inspirational or emotional elements of consumer-brand experiences. If anything, living life to the full is more vital than ever. Whether in-store or the metaverse, consumers are after more interactive engagements offering them a chance of co-creation so that they can shine.

Ever-evolving product

Product 2.0 post-pandemic involves delivering an enhanced product experience, leveraging tech like AR/VR/MR for product immersion or AI, DNA and genomics for personalisation. A critical difference is that product 2.0 must have positive impacts.

Inclusive engagement

With experience linked to perception and memory, lasting engagement continues to be a critical consideration for brands post-pandemic, but has shifted from Instagram stage-crafted backdrops to communities with shared purpose to drive diversity and inclusion.

Unlocked potential

The US and China will remain the main sources of demand for Experience More, with untapped potential to come from emerging markets in Asia Pacific.

Long live Experience More!

Nostalgia for the old days, pent-up consumer demand and rising prosperity will all lead to a boom in quality, fun and exclusive experiences, no matter where or how they take place. Brands that embody strong values and activism will stand out from the crowd, along with those that prepare for the next generation hyper-connected immersive experiences on the horizon.

 

Introduction

Scope
Key findings

Impact of the Pandemic

Devastating impact of the pandemic on real life experiences
Virtual and curated experiences resonate with consumers
Generational differences at play for experience priorities
In-person dining and travel suffer major blows
Experience More post-pandemic stays true to form
Mapping Experience More: US and China dominate
Post-pandemic, Asia to lead the charge with untapped potential
Emerging markets stronger potential than sluggish developed markets
Adaptations and pivots in experiential marketing

Living It

Living it: ban on in-person experiences unlocks virtual opportunities
Post-pandemic, experiential retail lives to tell the tale
Situ Live: multi-sensory – bringing brands to life #IRL
TikTok: interactive – co-creation drives brand engagement
Fortnite: creative borrowing – from gaming to live gigs for captive fans

Enhanced Product

Enhanced product: aspiring for the best of both worlds
ThreeKit: immersive – 3D AR for an elevated shopping experience
L’Oréal: improved performance – with AI for hyper- personalisation
Full Circle Farms: positive impact – regenerative models for new systems

Lasting Engagement

Lasting engagement: trusted brands delight and empower consumers
Experience is, above all, about perception and memory
Hit or miss interactions are costly to brand loyalty
Wenew: curated memories – own a digital historical NFT ‘masterpiece’
UOMA: community – pulling up inclusion as #BlackLivesMatter
Apple Glass: always on – game-changing tech to watch out for

Conclusion

Experience is dead, long live Experience More!
Experiential demand in lock-step with rising prosperity
Experience More: call to action

Appendix

Methodology for Megatrends Index
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