Consumers are hungry for live events. Here’s how brands should respond.

A new study from Momentum Worldwide shows people’s desire for new experiences has shifted from “social” to “emotional.”

People are testing the waters of in-person events as vaccines continue to roll out across the U.S. But the way consumers view live experiences has drastically changed.

A new study from Momentum Worldwide, which polled more than 1,700 participants across seven countries, including Brazil, Canada, France, Japan, Romania, U.K. and the U.S., reports that 74% of people found a new passion during the pandemic. Half of consumers are ready to try new experiences, but they’re pickier about where they spend their time than they were pre-pandemic.

No longer doing it for the ‘gram

Consumers aren’t interested in attending live experiences simply for the sake of adding a cool photo to their Instagram feed. According to the study, only 21% of people think it’s necessary to feel like a VIP during events, 20% need the event to give them something to brag about and 12% still want to attend an event just to post on social media.

“If you think about so many of the experiences prior to [the pandemic], it was all about the easy ways to get Insta traps,” Chris Weil, chairman and CEO at Momentum Worldwide, told Campaign US. “It was about creating a moment where people are bragging and have the swagger about where they are and what they're doing. Now it’s about ‘I’ve been with my small group for so long. I have been isolated for so long. I want to go back out into the world and be [with] people.’”

Emotional currency reigns supreme

People’s expectations for live experiences have shifted from social to emotional as a year of social distancing took a toll. Joy and happiness were the top desired expectations for live events among participants in the study (69%), followed by mental well-being (64%), lasting memories (62%) and reconnecting with family and friends (57%). 

Hybrid events pique interest

After more than a year of digital events and a desire for in-person human connection, hybrid events offer an appealing middle ground.

More than half of consumers appreciate the flexibility of hybrid events, with 87% willing to use technology while attending live events. It’s a signal to brands to embed new technology into their in-person experiences of the future instead of as an add-on or alternative.

“We as experiential creators need to think more like television networks and programmers,” said Weil. “If we create 12 things in a year, what are the touch points? What are the audiences? And what's the reach and the frequency, which then gets you into a much broader marketing and advertising budget. That will be a huge driving force of just about everything we do going forward.”

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