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Experiential Marketing in the Age of COVID – 19: Navneeth Mohan, Director & CEO, Laqshya Live Experiences

A combination of on-ground events with limited audiences and virtual remote audiences will be the trend writes Navneeth Mohan.

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Brand Storytelling is timeless, but its post-pandemic retelling has taken its experiential format into an exciting new hybrid.

In this immersive and seamless narrative there are two characters; the brand and the audience - but the undeniable hero in it all is technology.

From an experiential marketing perspective, whether we take inspiration from the Amazon Go Cashless shopper experience or from the Fortnite Marshmello virtual concert that was attended by millions - events have not just changed, but evolved too, in crucial aspects. For instance, some advancements have in a way expedited long awaited safety and hygiene norms, while some others are merely transient in nature. In truth, all the characters are feeling their way around the new normal, with innovation and agility setting the leaders apart from those who wait and watch.

In all of this, the void of social interaction is real, and needs to be filled with content creation that connects audiences through shared time, though not shared space. Technology such as Eye – Tracking Mechanisms, Gesture Controlled Software and Voice controlled actions will play a key role in the experiences of the future. User Generated Content will move beyond the limitations of social media platforms, and will reduce its dependency on broadcast production teams. The remote collaborative approach will give more depth to the User experience.

This is a new chapter unfolding itself, and it is not the last. As the evolution reaches a steady acceptance, the ultimate reality is likely to be a hybrid of the intimacy of the physical combined with the limitlessness of the virtual.

While it’s broadly accepted that experiential companies will now innovate or dissipate, here are the areas where innovation will broadly play out in the post COVID 19 era:

Virtual events both corporate and social celebrations:

User interfaces and environments will need to make up for the lack of physical warmth with experiences that were never possible within the confines of actual venues. Static web interfaces, innovative 2D environments with networking features like contact share, document download, group chat and more will deliver results. Immersive 3D environments can potentially go the distance in transporting audiences to the surroundings they associate events with.

Content innovations like the use of greenscreens and superior motion graphics will become commonplace and an essential part of event DNA. Augmented reality presentations will help brands create memorable and engaging experiences.

Digital interactivity and gamification will revolve around mobile app support to events and elevated digital games and activities.

Virtual employee engagement events:

Employees engagement is going to be a definitive focus for brands and it will be virtual/hybrid events to the rescue. With remote working being the norm, businesses will have to engage and motivate their employees - making way for a distinct rise in virtual employee engagement

Key aspects to look out for will be knowledge and wellbeing sessions on one hand and online games and team bonding sessions, on the other.

Micro events:

With social distancing mandated by governments the world over, micro-exclusive on ground events will start in the near future. Destinations events will be restricted to venues within a radius of 100-200 kms and local will be in favour. The same format manifest for destination weddings.

Branding & POS deployment:

With the lockdown in effect, all existing branding and POS in retail might need to be replaced with a new set , more mindful of the circumstances. Agencies with the capability and foresight to plan and deploy these remotely through local supplier chains will emerge at the forefront. Key to realising this would be the smart use of technology for monitoring and reporting, making it a support function that will see a meteoric rise.

Hybrid events:

At a later stage, a combination of on-ground events with limited audiences and virtual remote audiences will be the trend.

Digital IPs: Digital consumer intellectual property events will be a massive trend in experiential powerplay going forward, the existing live event IPs will be re-imagined in the digital format and new ideas will emerge which will be focused around families and communities.

While we can clearly tell which way the winds of change are blowing, it’s difficult to know exactly when the dust will settle. What we can say for sure, standing at this vantage point, is that there has never been a better time to innovate and change the game.



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