Phase 1 is officially over! We may not be quite done with the pandemic just yet, but some semblance of normalcy must continue. As we cautiously navigate this interim period, here are our predictions on what the future holds for the marketing and events sector:
1. Virtual events are here to stay (for now)
Let’s face it, we’re likely to be social distancing for quite some time. Brands have been adapting their efforts accordingly, with many moving their focus almost completely online. Pro: A larger audience online means more data to capture and insights to glean from the data. Con: Consumers are being exposed to a much higher level of content on a daily basis. To counter this, it’s crucial to present consumers with innovative and fresh propositions.
One of the most commonly used formats we’ve seen so far has been live streaming. These run the gamut from makeup tutorials, fitness sessions, fireside chats, concerts or baking classes. Even if filmed at home, don’t let your show down by making it look home-made. Set the stage for maximum brand impact by investing the time and effort to have a custom branded background designed. If creating a physical background is not feasible, a cost-effective workaround would be to create a virtual static or animated background.
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Some elements of activations in real life can apply to online events. Mimic door gifts and free samples that attendees typically receive during an event by sending them themed event merchandise prior to the online event. This could get a buzz going through social media exposure and could even be used to incentivise early sign-ups. Imagine having all attendees wear a branded headband for a virtual barre class – not only does this inject an element of fun into the event, it also creates on-brand valuable content for your social media. Bring the photo booth experience to your audiences at home with branded AR filters on Instagram. Plus points are their trackability and how easy they are to share.
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2. TikTok steps up
Thanks in no small part to the lockdowns and the boredom that ensued, TikTok enjoyed a massive growth with 315 millions new downloads in the just the first quarter of this year. Riding on this wave of success, last month TikTok took a giant leap forward in its quest for global domination by hiring Disney’s former head of streaming, Kevin Mayer, to become its CEO. Those in the business will know he has been responsible for some of Disney’s biggest acquisitions including Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm.
TikTok has made marketers and brands sit up and take notice, but many have had their reservations because, while it doesn’t release its user data, that TikTok’s core audience are largely the under-18s is an easy assumption to make just looking at the content on the app. However new data from Comscore indicates that the recent surge in downloads has brought in more US users in the 18-24 age bracket, signalling agrowing appeal to older audience demographics internationally as well.
Other reasons brands seem hesitant to explore TikTok are because its ad offerings lack detailed targeting options for demographics and country markets, as well as being substantially more costly than advertising on Facebook and Instagram. No doubt the app is still in its nascent stages and we can look forward to a gradual fine-tuning of its ad offerings in the next few months. The hiring of Mayer and a slew of other US-based executives will likely also have a type of halo effect for the app, calming some of these misgivings and kickstarting the app’s transformation into that of a serious contender in the social media sphere.
If you need a 101 on the app, you’d want to read our primer on TikTok.
3. Authentic content gains traction
Since the coronavirus outbreak, there has been a distinct shift in the type of content we’re seeing more of on social media. Gone are the FOMO-inducing resort getaways, stylish outfits pics and lavish brunch flat lays. The aspirational content consumers used to seek out is so far removed from a social distanced life. Instead, the type of content that resonates with consumers are that which reflect some aspect of our current reality and shared experience.
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Brands that utilise this insight to create their own campaigns are likely to be more successful in producing the kind of content people want to see. Take for example Nike’s “Play for the World” campaign that promotes social distancing, while carrying a message of perseverance and solidarity. One of the assets pushed out aggressively on social media was a compilation of DIY clips of athletes and everyday folk working out at home during lockdown. The videos had an unpolished, authentic and relatable quality that addressed the current global situation while still very much in line with the inspirational feeling that Nike is known to stir up with its ads.
Though brands might be hesitant about producing content that seems less than perfect, it might be well worth taking that leap of faith. Explore a bold, new creative direction that aligns with consumers’ evolving tastes, and you might just end up providing them with value when they least expect it.
Don’t wait too long. Speed and agility are essential when experimenting with new methods. The key here is to shorten the process – from formulation to execution and evaluation – as far as possible, to stay ahead of competitors who might have a similar idea. Sometimes the thing that separates you from your competitor is who went live with the idea first.
4. Events will make a come-back, and be better than ever
Are experiential events like branded pop-ups and activations a thing of the past? Not quite. We believe they will eventually make a come-back but what changes is that these in-person events will be much more consequential for both brand and consumer.
Since there are now more barriers to organising events, events will be fewer and far between, but that could mean a shift in focus from quality to quantity. Instead of churning out events for its sake, brands will need significant and persuasive reasons for organising an event. This is a win-win – brands are able to consolidate their efforts and raise the standards of their events, while consumers get a better targeted offering.
Being fresh out of lockdown, consumers, starved of human connection, will no doubt be actively seeking out opportunities to mingle. If done right, events will become opportunities for brands to delight consumers and solidify a lasting impression on old and new customers alike.
Like the way we think? We’d love to connect. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org