Neil Foster, Vice President of Consultancy at Guinness World Records, discusses how the industry will recover and evolve post Covid-19
I’ve worked in the industry for over 25 years and 2020 has definitely been the most testing time for brands that I have ever seen.
Almost every live event or experience has been cancelled or re-formatted so that consumers can safely enjoy them at home.
The first reaction for many brands was to pivot quickly when the pandemic hit, repurposing events to digital where possible.
Take Brewdog for example, which launched its own online Friday night bar; whilst restaurants such as Pizza Express took its recipes online for people to create at home.
It is unlikely that brands will simply be able to pick up where they left off pre lockdown.
New consumer behaviours, new technology and new digital products will all need to be considered and are likely to shape the brand experiences of the future.
We have all seen a huge shift in consumer behaviour with our lives changing in so many ways - from the way that we work, shop, interact, and even entertain.
Having a plethora of digital content at our fingertips, or live streamed into our living rooms, has now become the norm and consumers will expect this to still be available even after the pandemic.
We have also seen major music events taking place behind closed doors and being live streamed to the world.
The One World: Together at Home concert where everyone from Mick Jagger to Lady Gaga performed, and two Guinness World Records titles were achieved in the process, is just one example.
What would have once been an exclusive event, open only to those with high value tickets, was open to the world and consumers will expect this level of inclusivity in the future, creating a blended or tiered experience with potential alternative revenue streams.
The attempt was hosted on a bespoke platform, which allowed large numbers of people to be brought together, spreading a little joy during lockdown.
People were encouraged to have a virtual pint and raise as much money as possible for their local pub and the National Emergencies Trust Coronavirus Appeal.
The online event was hosted by a wealth of famous comedians, raising a lot for good causes. A strong example of a brand bringing some good to the world in the midst of a pandemic.
Over lockdown, we have seen technology entering our everyday lives in a way that has never been seen before - whether that is to entertain, connect people, reassure, or raise money for those affected by the pandemic.
The steep and rapid learning curve that brands have had to embrace around tech during lockdown is still very much alive and kicking – and as an industry, we are continuously learning. As well as expanding our portfolio of online record titles, we’ve worked hard to bring as much of the real world record-breaking event experience into the digital world, for example providing virtual adjudicators to officiate and record attempts.
As we travel even further down the digital path, we will see brands getting more creative and the lines between experiential, digital and other disciplines becoming distinctly blurred.
The technology has rewired our views on privacy, and this will impact on customer experiences and expectations.
Moving forward to brand experiences of the future, I expect that we will see more and more hybrid events, as brands reap the benefits of both on and offline channels – a fusion of live and digital which use AI, AR, live streams and other tech to involve the world, not just attendees in an activation.
Effective brands will engage their audiences in the real world through experiential - and then follow them into their car, homes and workplace, through digital and back again seamlessly.
Brands will build memories that will live on after the event as well as engaging with audiences who couldn't be there.
Expect photo albums, quizzes, videos, live-streams and vox-pops which will all help to straddle the fence between a virtual and live world.
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