In the years before the pandemic, experiential marketing was a trend that quickly gained momentum.

Consumers enjoyed these unique opportunities, and brands reaped the fruits of greater awareness and loyalty. However, all of this came to a halt when COVID-19 entered the picture.

Since then, brands are getting creative with their experiences with marketing. Thanks to technological advances, personal experiences can be offered online. Now that marketers know how well these newfound capabilities work, virtual and hybrid experiences are likely to go nowhere soon, not even with the possibility of being ‘normal’ again.

This is what you can expect from experiential marketing in 2021 and beyond!

The use of advanced AR technology will become a must for retailers

Augmented reality, or AR for short, is a form of experiential marketing that enables consumers to communicate with products or services in a much more enjoyable and personal way.

Brands have already incorporated augmented reality into their pre-pandemic marketing strategies, but closures and social distance measures have accelerated this process.

With AR technology, brands can show their customers what makes their product or service great instead of just telling it. This enables brands to connect better with their customers, provide them with memorable experiences and reduce costly returns.

AR technology also makes hygiene and neatness concerns obsolete because customers can buy from their own homes!

One brand that has achieved great success with its augmented reality marketing strategy is Sephora. Using face recognition, Sephora has made it possible for consumers to virtually try on makeup products before buying them in the store Virtual artist app. Try it before you buy experience is also popular among furniture stores.

Home Depot, Lowe’s and Ikea have built-in AI technology into their applications, allowing consumers to see what different paint colors and / or furniture items will look like in their homes before purchasing them.

In the future, brands will have to use complementary reality purchasing features to keep up with the changing needs of the consumer. Failure to do so will put them at risk of falling behind.

Hybrid events are here to stay

When the pandemic took place, personal events were forced to create new channels of revenue and embrace platforms such as Instagram Live, TikTok, Twitch and Zoom. The especially the music industry, had to drastically change concert experiences. Fortunately, they were able to make the transition successful.

Live performances by great artists such as Justin Bieber and the Weeknd on TikTok, Swizz Beatz and Timbaland’s 5 hour ‘producer clash’ on Instagram Live, and the Wacken World Wide live stream were all big hits!

Many organizations that offered their personal events online could significantly reduce the cost of their tickets or make the event completely free. With no upfront costs and no geographic boundaries, it opened up their experiences to a much larger audience. This has undoubtedly had a positive effect on brands that could increase their reach.

Since security issues will be a part of our lives for a long time to come, it will be of great benefit to people to have the opportunity to attend in person or in person. Now that we know how effective large-scale virtual events can be, a hybrid approach that still caters to virtual participants is likely to be implemented in the foreseeable future!

Audiences meet where they are

In the course of the pandemic, consumer behavior has changed drastically. One of our areas of life that made a huge increase in our home was the use of games and viewers. Brands have taken note of this and are using popular platforms like Fortnite and League of Legends to host virtual events. Travis Scott even finished hold an extremely successful Fortnite concert!

Using these platforms was not only an ingenious idea to meet the audience where they are, but it is also a great way to facilitate virtual interactions and start conversations with consumers.

Live chats and polls are also great ways to connect with virtual contestants, and brands are likely to continue this tactic with popular gaming platforms.

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way of life forever. Our ‘return to normal’ will not be a linear path, and many people will be reluctant to attend personal events for a while. Luckily, we learned how great technology can be when it comes to experience marketing.

With the best companies like Facebook leveraging live streaming shopping opportunities and Walmart using AR technology to create a new virtual startup feature, the future of experiential marketing has arrived faster than any of us could have predicted. Despite the impact the pandemic initially had on experiential marketing, it is still an integral part of the marketing mix and is likely to become increasingly important in the coming years.

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