Where will experiential marketing spends go in 2021?

With the government allowing physical events in a limited way, experiential marketing experts are hoping that 2021 can bring some good news

e4m by Ruhail Amin
Published: Dec 17, 2020 8:06 AM  | 4 min read

The ongoing pandemic has hit businesses irrespective of categories. However, if we look at experiential marketing spends, it has been an absolute bloodbath to say the least with many agencies shutting shop.

With the government allowing physical events in a limited way, experiential marketing experts are hoping that 2021 can bring some good news. Some still have their reservations though.

According to Ranjit Raina, CEO, Geometry Encompass, experiential spends will certainly see an uptick in 2021.

“From purely virtual experiences, we will start to see the revival of live experiences. Across live touchpoints, we will see experiential marketers deploy engagements that while conforming to health and safety protocols will create deeply immersive experiences. Technology will play a key role in helping create these contactless engagements,” says Raina.

Raina also underlines that brands were keenly looking for experiential solutions to return at the earliest.

“There is a distinct shift in consumer confidence over the last quarter and one is seeing a slow but steady revival in experiential marketing. A lot of brand conversations are beginning to be revived as the new year approaches,” he adds.

However, Neha Kulwal, Country Manager, Admitad India, says that virtual marketing has now replaced experiential marketing, which will ultimately generate leads for brands, helping them build their customer base. In her view, short-format video platforms have risen exponentially, with growth expected even in 2021.

“It is a new experience for brands and consumers alike, and they’re getting convinced to make purchases online,” says Kulwal.

There is no doubt that experience is the top-most matrix for every brand, and they are concerned about personalized customer engagement. Till early 2020, brands were creating, personalizing content to engage audiences through large scale events. However, online meeting & shows have replaced nearly everything in subsequent months, and we have now gone virtual on a mass scale.

Also, unlike the earlier days, word of mouth marketing has reinvented itself through live launch shows, celebrity videos, small-scale influencers, and reviews of genuine customers. Brands are more focused about capturing customer experiences, drawing the attention of target audiences, and customers tend to react to such stories.

“Brands will surely focus on spending online, experimenting through different marketing channels and strategies, rather than relying on offline installations and ground events. Apart from attracting customers, online mediums will help businesses maintain their brand identity. There will be two modes, digital and hybrid, and it will take time to completely move to the physical mode. There is a shift to digital, and we can see clients’ video content strategies change. Even influencers are sharing their experiences of products through short-format videos. Having said that, physical events will continue to have their own place,” adds Kulwal.

Sanjoy K Roy, Managing Director, Teamwork Arts, and former President of EEMA says that it will take 12 to 18 months for any kind of new normalcy. In his view, digital spends will remain below par at a 10th of what was paid out for physical events.

“Physical events itself will need to re-look at its very intent. The average conference or sales meet is a thing of the past. Companies with shrinking bottom lines have become extremely conscious of how much money they will put out and would prefer to save and use resources to directly boost sales. Digital engagements will drive the near future,” says Roy.

For Joy Chatterjee, GM – Sales & Marketing, Mankind Pharma, while experiential marketing spends have taken a backseat during the ongoing crisis, in his view, OTT platforms and digital media is where the spends will go.

“We plan to partner with more and more content creators with loyal fan following to provide fun, engaging and informative content for the audience. The situation we are in is not conducive for hit and trial methods but to find and engage with the right brand partners in terms of digital media,” states Chatterjee.

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