Trends and Insight in association withSynapse Virtual Production

Top Five Trends to Watch in November 2019

Experiential Marketing
London, UK
The team at Imagination on what's in store for consumer behaviour and the latest tech

Each month we round up the top trends that are shaping the world of experience. From innovative design, new business models, shifts in consumer behaviour and the latest tech. Here’s our list for November...

1. 5G is here

What does this mean for the future of experience?

With speeds of up to 100 gigabits per second, 5G is almost 100 times faster than 4G - really this is less of a trend and more of a cosmic upgrade in the way we can live. This new, ultra-fast internet connectivity is being rolled out to major cities across the globe and consumers are buying 5G-enabled phones in their millions - Samsung has already sold over 2 million. 5G technology was developed with the bold ambition to transform industries that exist outside of the telecom space through mobile connectivity. Industrial IoT (Internet of Things) and smart cities can now become a reality. The IoT means that every device is connected, cars connected to the roads they are driving on and augmented reality available to enhance the user experience everywhere and anywhere. This provides an unprecedented opportunity for brands to take advantage of cellular connectivity and create experiences that could be more ambitious in scale and far more effective in terms of impact, depth and reach.

“5G means much more than faster Internet access," says Anton Christodoulou, chief technology officer, Imagination. "It is the connective tissue, that intelligently glues together every touchpoint in realtime to enable seamless, personalised and connected experiences. It’s rewriting the rule books for interactions between brands and customers. Over time, 5G will transform every interaction we have with each other and the services we use, in ways we have not yet imagined enabling us to create deeper, richer brand experiences.”

We helped Vodafone launch its 5G network with an event at London’s iconic sky garden, using the latest tech to demonstrate the power of 5G. Click here to read more.

2. TikTok - Gen Z’s favourite new social sharing app

What does this mean for the future of experience?

No, not the song by '00s pop star K$sha, TikTok is a Chinese social app that’s taking Gen Z by storm. This platform allows users to star in their own music videos that can be enhanced by a number of filters, sound effects and digital props. However, unlike most social media platforms, TikTok’s algorithm promotes interaction that’s not based on what your friends are up to, but rather encourages users to join groups linked to certain trends - a dance craze, music genre, pop star etc. As this article from the New York Times points out, “These things have a way of sneaking up behind you. Maybe you never joined Snapchat — but its rise worried Facebook so much that Instagram, was remade in its image; and maybe you skipped Twitter — but it still rewired your entire news diet.”

Brands that want to engage the new TikTok audience need to adapt their content to the unique way that the TikTok algorithm works and tying in an experiential campaign with TikTok requires a different strategy to using Instagram for instance. If brands can meet this challenge however, the increased reach will be worth it. The United Nations, for instance, started a dance challenge #DanceforChange that ties in with its campaign to spread awareness on climate change. It has already been watched by over 100.9 million people.

Solomon Akhtar, founder of Social Bear, comments: “It's incredible to see the growth of TikTok within Europe, particularly within the UK. In the last 6 months, we have seen a general trend towards the more short-form content - snappy video that competes for attention. Within Instagram, we have seen this reflected through the popularity of Stories - content which is designed to be absorbed on the move. Brands are responding to these new by creating vertical content - both organically and through paid social.”

3. Hyper reality takes VR to the next level

What does this mean for the future of experience?

The world of virtual reality is becoming increasingly diverse, and there are now several terms most of us will be familiar with that describe some sort of virtual experience - mixed reality, augmented reality, extended reality. Enter hyper-reality, a term used to describe a multi-user experience that takes virtual reality to the next level with touch, sound and smell, to truly immerse users in the digital space. The Void is a great example of this, its Avengers End Game experience puts users right into the centre of the action, allowing them to fight alongside their favourite characters and be truly immersed in Marvel’s brand world for up to an hour.

Rory Byrne, business director, Immersive Studio, Imagination, says: “Hyper-reality is the next step for immersive storytelling through emerging technology. Leveraging more than two senses (sight and sound) to deliver experiences that talk to all of our senses and build memories in our audience. This combined with its multi-user capabilities hyper-reality is a potent experience platform, hinging on immersive storytelling, true agency for our audience and sensory stimulation.”

4. Digitally native sports shaking up the game

What does this mean for the future of experience?

From Fortnight to the new Drone Racing League (DRL), there are several new digitally native sporting competitions shaking up the audience/sponsorship/sports relationship. The DRL, interestingly, is pioneering audience participation during competitions by asking its viewers to vote on what obstacles appear in the 3D race - this year a Swatch Tower (sponsored by the Swiss watchmaker) was voted in. The league draws a sizeable audience – its first live broadcast on Twitter earlier this year generated six million views, while a promo of previous races to promote season two garnered 150 million views.

Katie Stretan, global head of strategy and insight, Imagination: “The most important consideration is being part of the experience, not a bolt-on. Effectiveness comes through respecting the audience’s close-knit community, humour and references. Brand experiences deliver value by enabling the audience to connect more effectively - with each other, with stars and with game content.”

5. Plastic rethink

What does this mean for the future of experience?

No one will ever forget the images of sea creatures swimming with shopping bags, q tips and drinks cans from the infamous documentary Blue Planet II. Yes, plastic, and sustainability in general, has been on the agenda for a while, but it feels as if brands are beginning to really listen to their consumers’ concerns and are making ‘plastic free’ key to creating an experience. Even if sustainability is not central to the story a brand is trying to tell, or a major component of the overarching concept, it is now part of the criteria when it comes to creating an experience and something that all brands, creatives, strategists etc. need to carefully consider. For one of our latest projects, Dubai One Year to Go, sustainability is key and the campaign Be Water Wise a core part of the experience. VIP guests receive reusable water bottles, all guests are offered paper water bottles and there were a number of other initiatives revolving around carbon offset. Similarly at this year's Telstra Vantage event in Australia, environmental responsibility was a chief concern - all printed material was replaced by digital apps, plastic bottles where banned and food waste was redistributed via a food rescue donation programme.

Trevor Smith, production director, Imagination, comments: “It’s essential that we evoke creative thinking and continue to push our brands to enforce innovative, sustainable and ethical solutions across all campaigns we develop and deliver. We all have a duty to create experiences with sustainability at their core - not only is it the responsible thing to do, but it also matters to our clients and their customers.”