Making experiential work during the pandemic

Making experiential work during the pandemic

Experiential Marketing Consultant Kenny Hyslop believes that experiential events can still help brands engage with audiences and deliver a return on investment, even during the pandemic. He will be presenting these views at the Exceptional Experiences conference from 2-3 December in Barcelona. We asked him how he thinks the pandemic has affected experiential marketing.

What, in your opinion, will be the longer-term effects of the pandemic on experiential events?

Kenny: "It goes without saying that the pandemic has had and will continue to have a significant impact on experiential, not least because we can’t meet face-to-face at the moment. However, as is often the case, there are interesting and exciting opportunities for brands on the back of these challenges.

"There are various trends and emerging behaviours that will be significantly accelerated because of the behavioural change thrust on us by lockdown, and a reassessment of personal, social and financial priorities. For example, for many there has been an increase in the value placed on being an active participant in one’s immediate local community and there’s a real drive towards ensuring some of the positive environmental impacts of lockdown continue. Brands who can tap into this quickly and with authenticity have a real opportunity both to attract new customers and to deepen engagement with and loyalty from existing customers.

"Enforced changes in behaviour present us with short term opportunities too, for example, queuing outside of shops – savvy marketers can capitalise on that and turn the great British queue into an opportunity to engage with a captive audience."

How can marketers ringfence experiential budget when potentially purse strings are tighter than ever?

Kenny: "This is always a challenge in our industry, and more so now that purse strings have been tightened. Again though, there is opportunity here. With many more aspects of our life having been pushed online in recent times, there’s myriad data at marketers’ fingertips, allowing for a deeper understanding of customers and new ways to engage with a wider customer base.

"Clearly, access to more, better data also allows for enhanced measurement and tracking and therefore the ability to show tangible positive results to the board all of which can be leveraged to demonstrate value and ring fence budget. I strongly believe that for brands to bounce back from the effects of the pandemic, now is the time to invest in creating deeper and more meaningful engagement with audiences."

What, if any, positives have you taken from the effects of the pandemic?

Kenny: "It has been very interesting to see some new initiatives and creative thinking coming through from brands looking to maintain engagement with customers. From virtual and socially distanced festivals and drive-in Secret Cinemas to online cheese and wine tastings to immersive online gaming, there have been some fun and exciting initiatives happening and I’m looking forward to seeing how virtual and face-to-face integrate going forward. Whilst face-to-face will always be a core element of experiential, it can be enhanced and extended through integrating virtual elements."