Change in consumer behaviour and shift of trends in the events industry: Fawaz Syed
The work from home culture had led to a behavioural change that may outlast the pandemic writes Fawaz Syed, Co-founder, Digital Jalebi.
That the changes in society over the past few months have been extreme is putting it mildly. For the first time in history, a third of humanity was quarantined at home. This was unprecedented. Never before were billions of people asked to remain at home for weeks on end. While it took some getting used to, everyone has adapted well to the new normal. So successfully have people adapted to working at home that a mutually agreed-upon work from home culture has emerged.
A few ways behaviour has changed as a consequence of a work from home culture are as follow.
The duration of webinars has increased
Before the pandemic and lockdown, webinars were of a much shorter duration than they are now. Most webinars lasted for as little as 15 to 30 minutes. With the adoption of a work from home culture, the length of webinars has increased substantially.
Today a webinar may be as long as one or two hours. Some are even longer. A reason for this is that people have become accustomed to using web conferencing tools. Even those who never used web conferencing tools like Microsoft Teams, Hangouts etc. have come to rely on these platforms. Such platforms help share valuable information and manage large teams when everyone is working from home.
Organisations have realised that the use of web conferencing tools increases productivity. Many business owners are participating in webinars to learn from thought leaders. Business owners are also turning to webinars to educate their employees.
Also, the frequency of webinars has increased dramatically. Before the lockdown, there were few webinars, and most were poorly attended. Almost everyone preferred to go to live events. This has changed since the lockdown. Today there are dozens of well-attended webinars happening at any given time.
A new casual culture has emerged
With millions of people working from home, a casual work culture has emerged. People who participate in web conferences are lenient with themselves and others. During a web conference, participants are not expected to look their professional best. Many join meetings in casual attire, and no one calls them out for it. Even employers who had a formal button-down office culture are giving workers who don't look their best during a conference call a pass. Everyone has come to realise that working from home places certain constraints that make it difficult for people to look as professional as they would in office.
In addition to being more lenient about employees’ appearances, many business leaders are accepting of disturbances during web conferences and webinars. Children suddenly storming into a room during a conference are no longer a concern for parents. In the new normal, when meetings are held, such interruptions are expected and accepted. The work from home culture had led to a behavioural change that may outlast the pandemic.
Home offices are becoming commonplace
Since the lockdown was imposed on March 25th, employees have had ample time to transform a section of their home into an office. Many who are working from home, and regularly have online meetings with clients, have picked out a spot from where they can work. Such an area is usually very quiet.
Many workers have taken the time to add an extra layer of sheen to their home offices. They are decorating the area behind their desks with products manufactured by their employer and their employer’s logos. When they join a conference call with colleagues or customers, their background is plush which enhances the visibility of their employer.
The attempts to make online conferences more engaging don’t end with branding. Many people are going a step further by adding a green screen on the wall behind their home office. With such a screen in place, the entire body of the person seated before the green screen is visible to during a web conference or webinar. Rather than appear sitting before a computer screen, a person seems to be standing with their entire body on display. Such nuanced actions go a long way in making people more capable and confident during video calls.
In addition to the shifting behaviours mentioned above, there is a shift in how brands engage with consumers.
Superior Interaction with customers online
More brands than ever before are interacting with customers online. They are holding Q&A sessions with customers, engaging them in online games, sharing with them on social media, giving demos of products and more. Behind all this is the need to engage with customers online like never before. Most businesses have come to realise that things aren't reverting to the old way anytime soon. Hence they are investing in online resources to attract customers.
To engage customers, brands are creating interactive sessions and moving away from programs where customers are passive observers. Whether it is webinars or an online event, customer engagement is the name of the game.
The rise of hybrid events
Increasingly, brands are turning to hybrid events to connect with consumers. In a hybrid event, everything a viewer sees is not where it appears to be. Most of what a viewer sees is made possible by computer graphics.
To keep customers engaged, brands are hosting virtual events that appear indistinguishable from real ones. During such virtual events, an entire product line may be displayed in the background while a host would be in the foreground. Observers would think the host and the products in the environment are in the same place; in reality, the host is standing in front of a green screen. All the products in the background are projected on the green screen, yet the host can interact with them as naturally as he or she could with real items. Such dynamic virtual events are made possible because design firms have the expertise necessary to bring them to life.
Some leading design firms have been able to broadcast virtual meetings in which panellists seem to be sitting next to each other. In reality, they are hundreds of kilometres away. Audiences are unable to tell that they are watching an intimate discussion between people who are separated by hundreds of kilometres.
Such virtual events allow for a wide range of camera angles. Viewers get to see a virtual exhibition from every perspective just as they would a real-life event. The entire time such an event is broadcast, the audience believes that everything they see is tangible and located in a single area. In reality, the whole event is made possible by a talented design team using computer graphics.
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