The brand experience industry suffered a lot in 2020. We witnessed many unforeseen circumstances that led brand campaigns to closure before they even started. With stores closed, activations put on hold, and events cancelled, brands had difficulties adjusting to the new consumer demand.

With the announcement that the UK is moving to lift COVID-19 restrictions in the summer, we are all curious about what audiences will be looking for in 2021. Independent marketing agency iD ran a survey of 340 UK consumers to gather insight on consumer trends post-lockdown. The results should help companies redefine their strategies and prepare for the summer.

What audience appetite might look like after the lockdown?

To gather useful data for the brand experience industry, the iD survey targeted consumers between the ages of 18 and 54. The agency thought this demographic is the most likely to engage with experiences in summer 2021, making their opinions more valuable than others.

84% of UK consumers want to try new brand experiences post-lockdown

When it comes to the consumer appetite in 2021, iD found that 84% of people surveyed were eager to try a new brand experience once restrictions are lifted. The data shows an opportunity for brands as the UK approaches summer and audiences can get out again.

Over half of the audiences said they’ve already booked or are planning to attend an outdoor event. As the survey shows, the public sees the start of the summer as the end of lockdown, thus, its desire to engage in a live experience grows deeper.

Responding to digital transformation from 2020

Following the data, brands need to prepare for acting immediately after the restrictions are lifted. The challenge will be to stand out from the crowd and deliver an experience that has been worth waiting for. However, the numbers from the survey show what those long-waited experiences should look like.

7/10 respondents said digital experiences do not compare to the real thing

The events of 2020 had a significant impact on the way brand experiences are delivered, and the way audiences engage with them. Nearly 40% of the people iD spoke to said that they had engaged with a digital experience whilst in lockdown as an alternative to a brand experience or event.

Of this number, over 70% stated that digital experiences do not compare to the real thing. The data suggests it is hard to recreate the design and engagement you can get in a real event space – and clearly, true digital alternatives are still some way off.

According to the iD survey, digital experiences served as a temporary replacement in a desperate time for the events industry. They are not expected to be an option moving forward. Although we can expect the digital solutions to remain important and widely present, brands shouldn’t look to eliminate live experience.

Preparing for the consumer trends post-lockdown

iD also investigated the types of experiences audiences want to attend post lockdown to give brands insight into the events that will receive the most footfall.

Over 55% of consumers have planned events and experiences for summer 2021

Over half (55%) of audiences said their preference would be an outdoor event. Nearly two-thirds (65%) said they would want to attend an outdoor festival, market, or fayre over the summer, compared to a dedicated pop-up shop or product demonstration event.

Clearly, brands need to be seen where their audiences are, rather than adopt a ‘build it and they will come’ approach. This is something that brands should consider when deciding on how to activate new campaigns.

How will live events follow safety guidelines this summer?

As long as brands have something truly special to offer, and people feel reassured of their safety, there will be no shortage of people looking to engage with new experiences in the summer of 2021.

However, brands will need to prepare for the enviable amount of consumers at live events by introducing the necessary safety measures. Of the people iD surveyed for their independent report, 59% stated they want COVID protection measures at any brand experience they attend this summer.

Over 59% of respondents would want COVID protection measures at brand experiences

As the signs people want to get back to events grow, brands will have to adopt new measures and prepare in advance for wider audiences. They will need to come up with effective strategies to meet the needs of consumers once they get a chance to attend live events. The iD’s report proves to be a useful resource for those who hope to resonate with audiences in the summer and meet the consumer trends post-lockdown.

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