Experiential marketing is set to return as the dominant retail activation strategy in 2022 and beyond. However, a lingering covid scare will warrant that companies leverage smart technologies to execute a consumer-centric but safe activation campaign. Discover the top retail activation trends of 2022.
Brands are like people with their stories, histories, and (customer) relationships. These relationships stand on the bedrock of experiences that a customer has with a brand. Positive relationships with customers are a cornerstone for retail success in the post-covid world. Thus, it is a modern mandate that retailers must make all the touchpoints conducive to build a more profitable relationship with their target customers. One way to achieve this is by organizing BTL events & activations in the target markets and amongst the target audience to maximize brand awareness.
As the markets open gradually and live events are restored, experiential marketing is primed to return to the spotlight. Many old and new avenues have opened for retailers looking to connect and engage with self-isolating customers, from in-store activations to festivals and brand events in local markets. And after a year of online shopping and zoom fatigues, customers are now looking for a more holistic shopping experience as they step out of their homes. So, what would a brilliant retail activation look like in 2022 and beyond? Here are the top trends in experiential marketing to answer that question:
Leveraging tech to design safe events
The emergence and spread of the new Omicron covid-19 variant is a grim reminder that the pandemic is not over yet, and the safety of outgoing customers remains paramount. In 2022, there will be a significant uptake in the use of technology to design and execute BTL activations to minimize the health and safety risk of consumers. This will include using facial recognition technology to reduce human contact, wearable social distancing, and contact tracing gadgets to notify attendees if they encounter a Covid-19 infected person. Also, cashless payments will become standard to avoid human interaction.
Increased alliance around the establishment of an industry-wide Covid-19 health and safety policy will be crucial here too. These policies will be standard across every event.
Using Pop-ups to draw engagement
As the markets reopened after the worst of the pandemic had passed, brands took tentative steps to reconnect and engage with customers away from screens using flexible formats such as the ever-popular pop-up installations. From TikTok to Netflix and Toyota to L’OrÃ©al, several renowned brands used pop-ups to reengage with their audience.
Leading brands are envisioning cost-effective and Instagram-worthy pop-up shops/cafes to deliver a unique and shareable experience to their audience. Creating such spaces helps drive conversations, traffic, engagement, and even sales. This trend will persist in 2022 and beyond, with companies collaborating with each other to create pop-ups and increase the engagement quotient to a whole new level.
Enticing customers through art Installations
According to a pre-covid study, around 44% of customers prefer to attend outdoor events. As events are coming back in a phased manner, it is a golden opportunity for retailers to engage and entice a crowd through art installations. It will help brands create a buzz and start conversations around their products and services.
Brand-centric art installations can help boost social media traffic and engagement. Retailers must ensure that their art installations give customers a shareable experience. They can also collaborate with local artists or BTL activations agencies to help create visually stunning and topical art installations.
Executing virtual experiential marketing
Virtual experiential marketing has five core elements, viz., sense, interaction, flow, pleasure, and community relationship. All of these elements must conjoin together to create unique pleasurable experiences that translate into higher brand loyalty and evangelism. Virtual experiential marketers use digital tools to create audio-visual content to mediate between the company and customers. These tools range from traditional content pieces to the use of AR/VR technologies to enable richer customer experiences.
Virtual experiential marketing uses multiple digital tools to create an emotionally-charged cognitive attachment for brands in customers. The success of a digital retail activation lies in the proper alignment of content, customization, customer care, communication, community, and convenience.
Establishing brand Advocacy
Customers today are moving towards value-based shopping and prefer brands that create social good through their initiatives. Thus, it is crucial for brands to have their social advocacies in today’s business landscape. They must create advocacy-based events. Events and activations is not about putting products or services out in the market but creating valuable experiences that customers can associate with the brand. Since more customers value advocacies, companies must consider playing up to these preferences.
However, it is crucial that advocacy events should be about an actual cause that brand cares about and not fake. For large retail brands out there, they can start with their corporate social responsibility programs. Additionally, brands can promote their brand advocacies using different experiential marketing techniques like an art installation, live or AR events, and more.
Immersing audiences using AI, AR/VR technologies
Personalization has become a crucial component of the retail industry, and it will witness the use of artificial intelligence and augmented realities to create curated experiences for audiences. NFTs and the metaverse were two of the biggest buzzwords in 2021. Incorporating them into retail events and activations will become widespread going forward in 2022 and beyond.
Brands will use AR and VR technologies for gamification events and try them safely in stimulated environments. Brands can use AR to enable virtual try-on facilities for customers and deliver a life-like look and feel of the products on their smartphones.
Technology has changed the way people experience things and added new and unimaginable experiences. These experiences have changed the fundamentals of experiential marketing and made it more unique and impressionable among retailers and audiences. Retail events and BTL activations, in the future, will become more technology-driven for easy execution and higher productivity. However, offline events like RWA activations, BTL activations, seminars, etc., will make a comeback at a larger scale. The industry will witness a smart blend of AI, AR, and VR technologies along with creative offline events to create immersive and shareable customer experiences. Going forward, marketers must use a mix of online and offline interactions to expand their reach and touchpoints.
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