IT’S TIME TO CREATE BETTER, MORE HUMAN EXPERIENCES
IT’S TIME TO CREATE BETTER, MORE HUMAN EXPERIENCES
We’re breaking down the five latest experiential trends we see as we return to in-person events. And the best part is, we’re doing it in five minutes.
OUT WITH THE OLD AND IN WITH OURSELVES.
The return to in-person has awakened a monumental shift within our culture.
This shift is about ourselves.
We've become more intentional, and we see that reflected in how we spend our time, money, and attention. We’ve chosen brands that align with our values and moved on from the ones that don’t. We’ve put our well-being first and work last.
When it comes to experiences, a return to ourselves means brands must create better ways to draw audiences, to be more empathetic, anticipatory and head-to-toe alluring.
Simply put: creating better will mean being more human.
<span class="trend-heading">TREND <br/>#1</span>
HYPERPHYSICAL IS THE NEW METAVERSE
WHAT IT IS: After years of sensory deprivation, people are escaping to hyper-physical worlds that transport them into the surreal. The use of more cutting-edge tech paired with tactile materials are activating all the senses — without the use of a VR headset or glasses. Retail brands are dominating this space but B2B brands are catching on and starting to mirror their B2C counterparts.
WHAT IT MEANS: Wearable tech has become a barrier to entry as in-person experiences return. Cutting-edge, sensorial tech will become more of a priority as immersive experiences take on a whole new meaning. B2B brands will need to continue to level up their experiences in order to stand out against their competitors. The pressure is on.
Media that appeals to more than three senses at a time can increase brand impact and engagement by more than 70% (Stylus, 2022).
Photo: Illuminarium Experiences, Atlanta, GA, 2022.
<span class="trend-heading">TREND <br/>#2</span>
THE POWER OF PAUSE
WHAT IT IS: The return of in-person has ushered in a new way of life, with new systems that cater to fresh perspectives and life-long desires and aspirations.
Hustle culture is out; 4-day work weeks, sober-curious living, and dopamine-fasting are in. Companies are training their leaders in Dialectical Behavior Therapy and offering sabbaticals. Across the board, people are exploring alternative systems that bring balance, pleasure, and awareness.
WHAT IT MEANS: People are momentarily turning off their brains to fully open their minds to new possibilities. Mindful moments are generating a new sense of brand appreciation. Brands will need to incorporate wellness not only into their offerings but also into the experiences they create as we return to the hustle and bustle of in-person experiences.
78% of consumers say wellness is more important than ever (WGSN, 2022).
Photo: TeamLab Reconnect Sauna Experience in Roppongi, Tokyo, 2021.
<span class="trend-heading">TREND <br/>#3</span>
BRINGING HAPPY BACK
WHAT IT IS: After long periods of global isolation, people are craving meaningful connections that bring joy and a sense of a belonging. In a search for meaning, people are saying goodbye to toxic relationships and spending more time with those who truly matter. Group experiences — from play museums covered in poppable bubble wrap to “Listening to Joy” playscapes — have opened around the world to enhance people’s lives with moments of playfulness, joy and vitality.
WHAT IT MEANS: Experiences must not only prove to be worth it but they must enable collective memory making — ones that people can experience simultaneously with others. To encourage happiness, brands should consider bright colors, sound frequencies and mesmerizing patterns to encourage happiness throughout their offerings and experiences.
852 Hz frequency helps replace negative thoughts with positive ones (BetterSleep, 2021).
Photo: Smirnoff Ice Neon Carnival, Coachella, Indio, California, 2022.
<span class="trend-heading">TREND <br/>#4</span>
PURPOSE-DRIVEN AUTHENTICITY + INCLUSIVITY
WHAT IT IS: The pandemic gave everyone a deeper sense of purpose. For many of us, our values have become non-negotiable. People continue to be vocal with their wallets, along with their social accounts, weighing in on brands they both love and loathe. It’s high risk, high reward. Live and embrace your values — and you'll have deeply loyal customers. But fail to thread those values into every action of a brand, you risk it all.
WHAT IT MEANS: Brands will need to be proactive and go above and beyond to prove how they are building a better world. Brands will have to put in the work to show — not tell — how they are a part of the change, and experiences will be the perfect place to do it. We live in a world where access has become more valuable than possession. And authenticity and transparency will be key to gaining brand loyalty — or get ready to experience the wrath of cancel culture.
60% of shoppers in the US, Europe and China want more transparency about the production journey their clothes have been on to make ethical purchasing decisions (WGSN, 2022).
Photo: Taco Bell Cantina Drag Brunch in Chicago, IL, 2022.
<span class="trend-heading">TREND <br/>#5</span>
SURPRISE & DISRUPT
WHAT IT IS: After years of uncertainty and seclusion, people have embraced the unpredictable to feel more connected to the present and to each other. Luxury brands are partnering with TV shows to make a splash. Music artists are releasing new music through impromptu shows, instead of scheduled tours. Fashion houses are honing in on localized marketing efforts to get closer to their customers. Being unexpected is in, and being predictable is out.
WHAT IT MEANS: Not only is PR more valuable than revenue, but meeting the consumer where they are has taken on a whole new meaning. Brands will have to continue to raise the bar, reinvent, and reimagine while staying authentic to their values to keep their name in the rotation. The game is on: surprise and disrupt or be forgotten.
67% of consumers say being surprised is very important to their experience with a brand (CrowdTwist, 2019).
Photo: Hennessy and NBA hosted the UK’s first floating basketball court, the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Season, Thames, London, 2022.
Ready to redefine better, together?
At XDA, we transform stories into shared experiences. It takes relentless energy, passion, and imagination to build better than we’ve ever experienced. We are story makers — building worlds where brands and their audiences co-create what’s next.