Try to fast forward to an imaginary 2030 – it often conjures up a Black Mirror-esque landscape where people pay for their bus fares by watching ads and get a discount on their favorite clothing brands by wearing their items in populated areas frequently.
While this can seem a little disconcerting, undoubtedly one of the pros of buinesses wanting to engage audiences is the enjoyment that can be had at an brand experience and the way these events can lead to new discovery.
Audiences continue to become demanding while wanting to build lifelong affiliations with companies that align with their personal values. With exciting advances in technology aimed at capturing heads and a key focus on sustainability to capture hearts, Campaign looks forward to what 2030 holds.
Strategy director, Amplify
Experiences will be hyper-local and able to make an important socioeconomic impact. By having a holistic approach to locations, we’ll be able to move outside of cities and into places in need of investment: seaside towns, empty high streets, pubs, old schools and dilapidated stations. This hyperlocal approach is incredibly effective when supported by a content engine that lets the event travel the world. And imagine what brand experience could do in those spaces.
A few years ago, for a Converse project, Amplify turned a warehouse in Peckham into a fully functional space that was fit-for-purpose to be used after the programmed series of events. If we dream even bigger, by 2030 brands can be joining forces to take up permanent regional residence, designing experiences that rebuild towns and increase jobs, entertainment and education opportunities. Brands will be able to leave a legacy for local people that can be sustained long after the experience is over.
Imagine an elevated laser-tag destination where new virtual technologies make culture accessible to young people outside of London; immersive cinema experiences that can raise aspirations in high-poverty areas; and old leisure centres fitted out with innovations from top sports brands to improve the health and performance of children. We’re already seeing regional cities and towns becoming part of the mix in our work with Dr Martens, Jack Daniel’s and Spotify. And we hope this will only continue in the next decade.
Creative strategy director, Imagination
It’s impossible to perfectly predict what the next decade will hold, but one thing is certain: we’ll continue to see disruption across almost every sector imaginable.
The declining high street will be resurgent as shuttered stores transform into dedicated experience spaces as they morph into modern-day pleasure domes dedicated to sating consumers’ appetites for creative ways to enjoy products in new and wonderful ways. Sephora’s "House of beauty" has been quick off the mark. There will be more.
Collaboration will be the name of the game as brands work together to create real world experiences – looking to build on what Ikea and Sonos (pictured, top) are doing with the innovative Symfonisk Wi-Fi speaker collection. And Ikea is already ahead of the pack with a key theme of the next decade: sustainability.
The "S" word gains more and more traction, power and influence over consumer purchases. Brands will reject wasteful short-term gimmicks in favour of long-term pop-ups or semi-permanent multi-functional spaces that will continue to gain popularity. And that big-city bubble will pop, with more and more activations in smaller towns.
And of course it’s all going to be powered by 5G, with augmented-reality experiences which would blow our 2020 minds.
UK managing director, Sense
By 2030, products will be far more sustainability-focused, driven by Generation Z, who will be coming of age. With second-hand fashion becoming bigger than luxury goods, our focus will shift from "new" to "renew". Agencies will take more responsibility for their role in over-consumption, while helping boost brands’ sustainable credentials with greener, more ethical campaigns.
Of course, technology will have a big impact, but maybe not quite as expected. Yes, experiential will embrace it, but also act as an antidote to it. The latest innovations in artificial intelligence, augmented reality, facial recognition and holographics driven by the power of 5G will make brand experiences more immersive and increase their global reach and impact, but also improve how experiential campaigns are measured.
In contrast, growing fears over the addictive nature of smartphones and spiralling screen time will see experiential marketing play a pivotal role in helping brands satisfy growing customer demand for digital detoxification, along with a craving to deal with real people in the real world, rather than chatbots and robots in cyberspace.
People’s desire for more choice and control will grow, with agencies responding by creating multiple increasingly creative and original brand experiences that consumers can self-select. Meanwhile, the rise of fake news and the erosion of brand trust will make authenticity key to the success of any experience.
As nostalgia tightens its grip on the consumer mindset, with growing future-phobia meaning people prefer to look back rather than forward, experiential will also be there to satisfy this hunger by vividly recreating the past.
Innovation director and global head of Genuine X, Jack Morton
There’s no doubt that growth catalysed by relevance will be an essential focus for business over the next 10 years. This is because the speed of life and the way we live it is ever increasing, making evolution of brands all the more critical. Even those businesses whose successful products and services have prospered in the past will start to decline, driving the need for innovation and disruption.
Since people are increasingly demanding that what a brand does lives up to what a brand says, the experiences brands create are at the sharp end of this need for innovation. What this means is that the experiences of the future need to be immersive, responsive, curated and connected – meaning they will harness data intelligently in order to create hyper-responsive and hyper-personalised immersive experiences that are connected and consistent to all other brand activations.
One of the paradigm shifts that will shape brand experiences in 2030 is in spatial computing, which will emerge from the convergence of many of the emerging technologies we’re seeing in their infancy today: VR/AR, gaze-tracking, 3D gestural control, haptics, voice, AI. It is the future of computing, where the computer disappears into the physical space around us. We will be interacting with technology, with a computer, simply through interacting with the world and people around us.
Another paradigm shift that will shape experiences by 2030 will be the accelerated and very necessary drive towards sustainability. We all know there’s much to be done within our industry as we strive towards a more circular economy and experiences have to become far more efficient at reusing, remaking and recycling and having a more sustainable attitude towards use of resources such as energy, food and water. Technology will play an important role in both identifying where changes can be made and in supporting those changes.
Innovation architect, Unit9
Over the next decade, brand experience storytelling will evolve further into "storyliving" to satisfy punters’ eagerness to live within their favourite brands.
Disneyland’s Star Wars: Galaxy Edge is a great early example of how a brand can be physically rendered into a space where fans can live. Granted, Disney has a highly engaged audience. But this approach can work for lesser fortunate brands too.
Hotels are an ideal vehicle for story living. Physical, intimate and easy to customise, a handful of brands are already experimenting with hotels as storyliving platforms. The Atari "Gamer hotels", for example, let fans sleep in an immersive Atari video game. But storyliving gold can be found in all manner of collaborations. Imagine if luxury goods company LVMH teamed up with Airbnb Luxe to create private shopping destinations with exclusive products.
Perhaps the next decade’s most exciting development, at least from a business perspective, will be people’s readiness to pay for storyliving. In fact, this is already becoming evident: Taco Bell’s pop-up branded hotel in California sold out in two minutes and the wild success of LBE [location-based entertainment] businesses like Secret Cinema shows that people are prepared to pay big for the right experiences. So storyliving could turn marketing into revenue.
Managing director, PrettyGreen
Climate change and sustainability have been the decade’s hot discussion topic but this has not necessarily translated into actionable plans at an executional level. However, according to Mark Carney, Bank of England Governor, discussing the dangers of climate change to the economy "companies that don’t adapt will go bankrupt without question". By 2030 this will be paramount in delivering brand experiences, from the materials that are used, to the carbon footprint associated with logistics as well as the brands themselves. Events need to assess their impact from delivery to reusability.
Giant leaps in technology will help deliver these goals and will also deliver incredibly personalised and engaging experiences. Creating multi-purpose white spaces through huge advances in projection mapping, 5G, digital installations and simulated digital experiences (using phones and digital billboards to deliver multi-dimensional experiences that can exist where-ever your audience are globally).
And we will embrace a whole new world of materials. Repurposed – from natural bamboo, milk (yes milk) and sheep’s wool through to scientific breakthroughs in new wonder materials with endless opportunities for live experience. Be ready for aerogel suspension floors, graphene stands, artificial spider silk heras fencing and metallic glass structures.
2030 is going to be mind-blowing and needs to be carbon negative.