e4m Red Carpet 2020: 'AI & VR to be the next step in digital experiential experience'

At the e4m Red Carpet Experiential Marketing Summit, panellists discussed the impact of the pandemic on the experiential industry and the upcoming innovations in the space

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Oct 19, 2020 8:23 AM  | 5 min read
experiential spends

The e4m Red Carpet Experiential Marketing Summit 2020 brought together top experiential marketing leaders under one virtual roof. The conference performed a mind mapping on the experiential economy and initiatives taken to stay afloat in this pandemic market. 

Digitisation has become of paramount importance during this pandemic and the role of technology will be amplified in the experiential ecosystem. The experiential marketing industry was severely hit due to global pandemic and has a long way to recover but is doing so strategically. 

The third-panel discussion highlighted the topic ‘How has this Pandemic impacted Experiential Spends? The Way Forward!’. The speakers on the panel were Deepali Naair, CMO, India and South Asia, IBM; Ankit Paul, Former Head-Marketing, Alibaba; Aashish Chopra, VP-Content Marketing, Ixigo; Apurva Chamaria, CRO, RateGain; and Samyukta Iyer, Head Marketing, Baskin Robbins. Moderating the session was Shruti Kumar, Director, India Craft Week. 

Naair kick-started the discussion speaking about the impact of the lockdown on her organization: “A lot has been said that the lockdown was tough. I think it has been relatively easy. Here at IBM, we pivoted to working remotely very quickly and then it was a case of us just figuring out how to treat experience for our clients online. Back in October, we did a full-length digital event, even in February pre-covid we did the same. The time for digital was here and COVID has accelerated this shift. As far as the challenges are concerned, for us marketers, in every two to three years, we have anyway changed and pivoted to different strategies. If you're a marketer who is conscientious of being client-centric and know that the clients and customers life is changing then it always pivots.” 

Sharing his perspective, Chopra said, “By 2021, things should get better. But on digital, more innovation needs to be done. There are tons of opportunities to experiment in this space. Virtual events will accelerate considerably but we need to go higher than the usual and experimenting in that area.” 

Talking about how the brand Baskin Robbins has pivoted digitally, Iyer remarked, “For us, there is no option. Working from home itself was a journey for most people; it was a struggle and I think it has a lot to do with how you understand that people have other things going on at home and everyone won’t be on camera all the time. It has all garnered different learning experiences. WFH has made us more productive now that travel time has been saved. Personally as well as professionals, we have all evolved. We all had to learn and unlearn a lot of things. It is the area of aggregation that is sustaining everything right now. We are looking at consumer reviews online to help make intelligent choices. As a marketer, we need to keep hygiene paramount and use technology to the fullest by customizing things and ensuring that everyone is safe.” 

Paul shared his perspective on how are things going to pan out for him on the experiential front going forward: “We are sitting at 650 million internet users right now. By 2030, as per M&E report, in Jan-Feb it was going to increase by 1 billion users but now this number is going at a faster rate. Everyone is hooked online no matter the age group. In the new normal, we all have learnt a lot like cooking or meeting friends virtually. Going forward it is going to be more towards the virtual world and towards the AI and VR world. Now is the time when everyone is hooked to the virtual world to the digital part. It is the best time for the marketing fraternity for opportunities to go ahead. It has also become a need-based economy right now rather than a luxury based economy and marketers need to be mindful of that.” 

Talking about how digital events have the same tone as it was before, Chamaria shared, “Most people are treating experiential online events and trying to replicate the exact physical event they were doing before. Their way of doing an experiential online event is some video, breakout rooms, same content, lots of slides and in the name of innovation they are doing something as banal as a Pizza getting delivered to attendees. The fundamental point is being missed, which is the power of digital. You can do very deep experiential tracking of what the audience is viewing and how much time they are spending. Customizing the events according to the audience’s preferences.” 

On a parting note, Paul speaking about the change in consumers said, “The customer needs more of empathy-led human experience. They are looking at top of the house consumer service. They are actually looking at understanding the product, which has been shown to them and they can actually move towards and become the brand’s custodian themselves. As a customer, if they are buying anything outside, there are different types of buying behaviours everyone has these days. One is anxiety level buying, then there is caution-led buying and most important kind of buying right now is the comfort-led buying where the consumer is financially secure. Marketers are seeing these behaviour patterns as an opportunity to brand their product or service placements strategically.”

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