As we shift from COVID-19 crisis to a post-COVID-19 reality, the pandemic has reshaped consumer expectations for how they want to interact with the world around them. Some new consumer behaviors, and new expectations, may be short-term and some will be more permanent.
The need to deliver more touchless experiences is likely to endure over the long-term and is going to impact experience design for the hospitality and travel sectors, for live shopping, for how people interact with public spaces, and for live brand experiential marketing activations.
There is latent demand for live, human scale experiences – music festivals, community events, sporting events, anywhere people are coming together to connect, to celebrate and to engage. As events start to open back up, and when consumers feel it is safe to do so, consumers will return to live events, and that return is expected be fast.
As brands that will be activating at these live events prepare for the return and think about experience design in a post-pandemic world, it is going to be key to consider consumer behavior and consumer expectations while planning.
We’re advising clients to return to activating live events thoughtfully, with a clear and comprehensive go/no-go plan, customized by country marketing/region. This plan specifically covers timing and conditions for indoor live events, large scale outdoor events and community level outdoor events based on pandemic conditions and on vaccination/immunity rates.
Experience design and approach is going to continue to evolve over the long term. The way in which brands show up at live events will need to be very different now, in the middle of 2021, than it will be in at the end of the year and moving into 2022.
In the short-to-midterm, consumers are going to approach shared surfaces cautiously. Spacing within event footprints will be important. Providing options for engagement for those who might prefer not to speak directly with a brand ambassador will be necessary.
Emergent technology, voice activated, facial recognition and mobile device interfaces, can all facilitate interactions that are touchless, while personalized and relevant.
For capturing leads and consumer information, a touchless lead capture mechanic is the new standard. A QR code scanned to a personal mobile device takes a consumer to a web portal for registration/sign-up/contest entry, replacing tablets and other shared surface devices.
Brands should design activation footprints that encourage social distancing. Include collateral as part of the experience design to remind consumers about spacing. Integrate a highly visible cleaning protocol for the regular sanitization of all surfaces. Include touchless hand sanitization stations, one for every 400 sq. ft. of event footprint space. Until full vaccine deployment within your country market is complete, limit the number of people in your footprint to 11 per 400 sq. ft., including brand ambassadors and event staff.
Brand experiences will continue to play a vital role in sharing a brand’s story, differentiating from competitors and connecting directly with consumers in meaningful and memorable ways. Brands have begun to change how they create and produce experiences to be successful in the current environment.
Drive-thru experiences are enabling brands to immerse consumers in highly interactive environments from the safety of their own vehicle. Projection, LEDs, holograms, and live performers provide endless possibilities for safe and engaging branded experiences.
Touchless roadshows are a great way for brands to bring their experiences right to a consumer’s doorstep. Different from a nationwide mobile tour stopping at central locations, this activation is hyperlocal and targeted by bringing the experience to consumers homes or specific local venue. Customized, contact-free set ups can include multiple highly interactive mobile stations that can engage consumers without having to leave the comfort of their neighborhoods.
Lumency recently had the opportunity to design and execute a fully touchless in-mall experiential activation for one of our clients. With malls beginning to return to higher capacity, we took it as an opportunity to get our client’s brand back out in front of consumers and reunite with them in a way that can help forge relationships now and into the future.
A common theme expressed by consumers throughout this experience was a pent-up demand for in person brand engagements. Through implementation of visible sanitization protocols, clearly outlining social distancing requirements, and building an experience that was fully accessible to the consumer through their own mobile device, attendees felt safe and eager to engage.
Brand ambassadors were outfitted in appropriate PPE. Lead capture and a live game experience were executed through QR codes, enabling consumers to participate using their own devices. The brand’s products were on display with various opportunities for consumers to learn more and interact with the products without having to utilize shared interfaces.
Brands that demonstrate and address the importance of creating a safe experience for their consumers will forge valuable, lasting relationships built on trust and integrity.
As consumers slowly reintegrate with the world around them, as they start to attend live events, brands that are sensitive to how they activate will earn and grow consumer trust. The brands that adapt and respond to changes in what will be an evolving consumer sentiment will benefit from being alongside consumers as they adapt to a new, post-pandemic world.
Responding to changing consumer needs and expectations around live events, communicating care and concern, and keeping well-being integral to any brand experience, supports the development of meaningful relationships between brands and consumers.