It’s usually the same conversations once we get to this time of year.
“Hasn’t the year flown by?”
“Can’t believe it’s December already!”
But it’s also the time of year we sit down in our Christmas jumpers with our mince pies and reflect on business performance over the last year.
What was different about this year?
What worked and what didn’t?
Has consumer behaviour shifted at all?
Looking back, there was definitely an influx in activity this year compared with the previous two. As consumers started to get back to normality, it seems people really missed physical experiences, connecting with others, and the entire ‘try before you buy’ concept: all of which were stripped away during peak restrictions.
Thankfully, the public are now feeling safe enough to get back out and explore, interact with others and create memorable experiences. But there have been some monumental shifts in consumer behaviour which have highlighted some key trends in brand experience.
Let’s take a look at those in more detail:
Since Spring, we’ve seen a dramatic shift in the traffic and attendance of larger-scale events including concerts and festivals. The hustle and bustle seem to be well and truly back. That increased volume extends to public spaces such as pubs and bars, shopping malls, parks and train stations.
It’s reasonable to assume that after two years of uncertainty and isolation, consumers are craving in-person interaction. This is also important because social passers-by are likelier to stay and engage with ambassadors working on experiential events. Good news for brands wanting to invest in experiential marketing!
We have noticed a rise in consumer engagement and also the general public showing enthusiasm for shared experiences. Something that hugely amplified our campaign with Lot 42.
Having said that, some of the changes from Covid are here to stay, such as hybrid working patterns and remote working. This directly impacted the effectiveness of a campaign versus the day, time and location. What this means is that a layer of strategy needs to be applied to campaigns that operate in areas where commuters would’ve been a primary audience. Mondays and Fridays were once golden opportunities, but are now best avoided because new patterns tend to favour the middle of the week.
This behavioural shift directly impacts when we target consumers who have shifted towards their leisure time. Weekend events, outside of work hours and even in the home, are becoming more effective targets for consumer campaigns. Which brings us to our next trend…
It’s not just working from home that’s here to stay. Product sampling from home was a big trend in 2022. At-home cooking kits are one example of this. But because of the unpredictability in consumer behaviour, especially during the working day, many brands prefer to focus on getting their products into the consumer’s home. This not only complements new behavioural structures, but also champions a consumer to take control of how and when they sample a product. Trying it in the comfort of their own home removes any external factors that could negatively impact the experience, allowing them to truly feel what it would be like to purchase for real.
This is a very different experience to a shared event where a consumer is away from the home in a heavy footfall area, but these are metrics worth measuring against purchase rates. For products that are meant to be enjoyed in the home, this strategy could be one to try for your next campaign.
Internal strategies such as staff training were another popular trend of 2022. The method sees internal staff educated about a product via intense training and briefing, giving them confidence to go on to promote and sell the product themselves. When unique or premium products hit the market, there can be perceptions that need to be challenged. As the staff act as a conduit between brand and consumer, it makes perfect sense to invest in their knowledge and give them confidence in your product. This method also helps staff to feel more comfortable communicating with consumers and, in turn, makes for a more positive selling experience.
Any unique selling points or standout product messaging should be delivered during this training to prep the staff to attract new buyers to trying products.
Since this technique is indirect, it eliminates the risk of customers feeling like they’re being ‘sold’, but rather, they are simply learning more about a new product.
Digitally collecting feedback used to be a bit hit and miss. Pre-pandemic, a large proportion of the nation weren’t as confident or educated on how to access a QR code or operate a digital product. Now, we are no stranger to ordering our food in a restaurant via an app, or scanning a QR to purchase a product, and for most of us, using video call platforms has become second nature. This increased confidence in digital products has made it much easier to collect consumer feedback during and after an experiential event.
Overall it’s clear that consumers are missing the experience of trying before they buy. There has been a surge in interest in product sampling especially, and the element of handling, using and sampling a product before purchasing was something we took for granted. As 2022 has proved, audiences are excited to experience brands and engage with product sampling, speak to ambassadors and vocalise their thoughts and feedback.
But there are also striking behavioural patterns to take note of. Areas of high traffic during the once ‘hot property’ commuter hours are now quieter than ever, and people are spending more time at home than ever before too. This is an exciting time for the brand experience market to experiment and invest in new ways of taking memorable experiences to their prospects and consumers, developing more meaningful interactions.
If you would like to jump on any of these trends before your competitors do, reach out to us, we’d be happy to talk!