Embracing digital transformation, hybrid events, sustainability, and new technology such as metaverse and data analytics are top-of-mind items to invest in for businesses, a newly-released market survey from Pico Group reveals.
“Audience behaviour has changed across all spheres of life, and not solely due to Covid-19. People are embracing new ways of getting information, of engaging with brands and with each other. For some, purchasing decisions hinge on issues such as climate change. All of this challenges the way businesses, brands, marketers and agencies think,” said Tyronne O’Callaghan, vice president, client strategy, global activation team, Pico.
“As expected, the volatility we are seeing – whether due to the ongoing pandemic or concerns over the global economy – is a key challenge to be faced over the next 12 months.”
O’Callaghan continued: “Budget is of less concern now than it was over the last two years – our survey shows a year-on-year drop of 32 percentage points on that issue. However, what is particularly interesting is that brands continue to be challenged by changing customer behaviour and are focused on finding ways to attract new customers.
“This raises the question of whether and how the audience experience is also changing.”
Planners have missed in-person events
From the survey responses, it was evident that with health restrictions being lifted in most markets, in-person events are more important in 2022 (64% of respondents ranked them as ‘extremely important’ or ‘very important’) when compared to even pre-Covid times (45%).
The ability to meet with audiences in a live setting has been missed. However, brands are planning such events with caution, leaving themselves room to manoeuvre in the face of sudden macro-environment change. In other words, they are planning hybrid events with both in-person and virtual elements.
Converging into hybrid
While many respondents placed a lower importance on virtual events, a significant number are making hybrid events a clear part of their plans; 47% said hybrid events are ‘extremely important’ or ‘very important’ to them over the next 12 months. Meanwhile, 62% said virtual/hybrid event platforms were a critical component of their hybrid toolbox, or that they were ‘exploring/looking to increase’ their use.
Continuing to embrace digital transformation
With an eye on the future, 47% of respondents were currently ‘exploring the potential of metaverse’, while 13% had already ‘conducted some activity’ there.
The metaverse’s potential for disruption is real, so businesses will need to learn quickly. A notable entry point is YAOLAND , a new HTML5 metaverse platform. Cost-effective and suitable for brands in all industries, it is an immersive gamified virtual marketing platform that allows users to create digital avatars and explore different activation experiences and stories, collect NFTs and participate in gaming, socialising, shopping and other activities.
Data is an opportunity, but for many it is an opportunity cost
There is no doubt that businesses understand the importance and benefits of data. However, only 31% of survey respondents were ‘comfortable with’ their current level of data analytics.
Pico’s proprietary ExQ Experience Analytics platform addresses this need. It features a unique benchmark scoring system designed to bring data-driven decision-making and measurement into business events. It effectively measures, compares and optimises audience experiences to drive return-on-experience (ROE) and return-on-investment (ROI).
It costs to be sustainable
‘Purpose’, or how a brand contributes to society, is an important factor in many consumers’ purchase decisions – particularly Gen Z consumers. It is also important to brands, with over 75% of respondents feeling that their marketing activities had put purpose into practice effectively.
However, the challenges are many and complicated, with the single biggest being cost: 53% of respondents said the cost of being sustainable wasn’t aligned with their budget realities.