The Future of Retail Experiences – How to Drive Brand Loyalty

The Future of Retail

It has proved challenging for the High Street recently with lacklustre sales and footfall in brick and mortar stores at a six-year lowThe convenience of online shopping has seen a huge increase in e-commerce transactions. E-commerce revenue in UK is expected to grow to 91.2 billion pounds in 2023; having achieved £65.7 billion in 2017. The rise of big retail events like Black Friday, Alibaba’s Singles’ Day and the upcoming Prime Day, are changing the way consumers purchase. Brands need to understand these shifts to offer more seamless and personalised shopping experiences.

The experience economy which took hold a few years ago saw the trend towards spending money on DOING things rather than BUYING things – as we like to call it experiences over things. The traditional approach to retail is failing the high street. Mega sales promotions, aggressive advertising and rewards programs may get people through the door to a point, but these short-term strategies don’t build the types of emotional connections that drive long-term profits and loyalty.

The problem is not that people have become lazier and defaulted to online shopping; it’s that brands have become complacent about making shopping in real life, “IRL” a worthwhile experience. More and more start-up brands are recognising that stores provide a direct platform to their customer base and are a huge asset. They have the power to deepen the customer’s relationship with a brand, to cultivate those strong emotional connections – ultimately increasing their lifetime value. It’s no longer about the price point but the emotive experience that will drive brand loyalty and retail spend.

Brands need to have the most compelling and relevant content and products as well as optimised and personalised shopping experiences now if they are to benefit. Here we look at what is driving these changes in the retail landscape and how brands need to evolve to stay agile and relevant:

 

Online and Offline Retail Experiences

Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, coined the phrase “new retail” to depict the increasingly blurring boundaries between the online and offline shopping world. Technological innovations are allowing us to see a synthesis of the digital and the physical with the adoption of Augmented Reality (AR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Certain brands are embracing interactive technology to provide consumers with more memorable, customised shopping experiences.

In 2020, Generation Z are set to account for 40% of all consumers and will influence nearly $4 billion in discretionary spend. Brands need to understand how to reach this influential audience and build brand advocacy now to benefit from this upward trend.


Blending in-store and online shopping experiences will be key to the survival of brick-and-mortar retail. In a recent study by Criteo, 
80% of Gen Zers said they looked forward to shopping in stores when they had time, but 75% do most of their shopping online out of convenience. Most Gen Zers prefer having the option to touch and feel products before purchasing and to use their smartphones while in-store. They also enjoy unique product displays and ways to test out products in stores. 

Beauty brands are leading adopters in terms of AR-apps that enhance the shopping experience. Through combining augmented reality and computer vision, customers are able to try on makeup virtually at home or in-store, and share through their social media channels, all while simultaneously collecting behavioural data for brands. For example, Estée Lauder-owned Smashbox partnered with Modiface [now acquired by L’Oréal] to use customer eye tracking insights to heat map the areas on a screen receiving more attention by users. This helps Smashbox understand which features are the most interesting and iterate on its website to make the beauty shopping experience more relevant for consumers.

Interactive experiential pop-ups and ‘smart stores’ with virtual greeters and facial recognition payment options will provide shoppers with the personalisation and customisation that they seek.

Creating a new retail experience

It costs more today to reach your online target audience, than it has ever before. As more and more businesses are popping up online each day, you can guarantee advertising costs on Google, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are going to continue to increase. That’s not to say cut all social activity, like Lush did earlier this year. It is creating that omnichannel experience that combines the online and live seamlessly. Shifting from transactional selling to emotive experiential shopping.

 James Wallman, a trend forecaster and the author of Stuffocation: Living More with Less, in which he charts the move from possessions to experience.  “If you think about the 20th century, the big dominant value system was materialism, the belief that if we had more stuff we’d be happier,” says “The big change to what I call experientialism is more about finding happiness and status in experiences instead.” Studies also suggest the anticipation of an experience has a crucial, additional value. In a 2014 paper called Waiting for Merlot, psychologists Amit Kumar, Thomas Gilovich and Matthew Killingsworth showed how consumers derive value from anticipation, and that value tends to be greater for experiential than for material purchases. That feeling lingers longer, too, tied up as it with memory.

Audiences are actively seeking memorable, authentic and shareable brand experiences around products. Having a consistent brand narrative that offers an experience at every touchpoint will cut through the noise, heighten engagement, increase brand advocacy and drive results. In a Gallup report, consumers with strong emotional connections with retailers will visit their stores 32% more often and spend 46% more money than customers without emotional bonds.

 

Personalisation from Big Data and AI-based recommendations

From recent research, 64% of consumers report that they feel like retailers don’t really know them. This is why many retailers have increasingly started to leverage AI to personalise the shopping experience. AI is able to learn through user behaviour and its algorithms get better over time – the rise of the AI stylist in the fashion industry is going to be huge – UK e-commerce startup Thread, which tailors recommendations based on a user’s behaviour and allows direct purchasing, has received Series B funding from H&M.

But AI doesn’t end with product recommendations. AI is being implemented across the entire shopping journey, particularly with chatbots to support shoppers. The likes of Alibaba and Amazon will have incredible data and buyer insights that will help brands create new products, as well as trends that will feed into their strategies. Timely and personalised product recommendations during these “FOMO” shopping events and experiences will be a key way that brands can demonstrate that they understand their customers’ needs and preferences. Find out how AR and VR can be utilised to enhance brand storytelling and brand experiences.

Maximising “Micro-moments”

 Think with Google started talking about the different types of touchpoints that consumers experience (on average) 150 times a day, as “micro-moments”. Audiences will often turn to their mobiles during these shopping micro-moments.

With the augmented ease of payment through mobile by users scanning their fingerprints and faces on their mobile devices, ‘in-the-moment’ purchases are ever on the increase.

It is critical for retail brands to have a solid mobile-friendly offering, and to ensure that their apps provide that seamless shopping experience that users seek and come to expect.

The retail moments that matter – the micro moments you need to factor into your brand narrative and the customer journey

Shopping micro-moments often start when people have a need or desire to purchase a product and they begin thinking of ideas. This leads to research and eventually purchase. These moments tend to fall into one of three categories:

  • I-need-some-ideas moments happen when people have general awareness of the product category they’re interested in, such as living room furniture, but they haven’t yet narrowed down their choices to an exact product.
  • Which-one’s-best moments—a.k.a. consideration moments—happen when people turn to their phones in short bursts of activity to compare prices, brands and specs, and read product reviews from trusted sources.
  • I-want-to-buy-it moments happen when the research is done and it’s decision time. People make a choice about which brand or retailer to buy from, and whether to buy online or in-store.

How can brands maximise the opportunity from these micro-moments? Behavioural analysis, timely and personalised recommendations, through emotional storytelling  and the immediacy of direct product brand experiences. The more relevant and authentic your brand offering is the more brand advocates will spend and engage with your brand even when presented with available alternatives.

Shoppable Social Media as a significant driver for retail

As more shoppers turn to their phones to shop, we expect to see more of that happening through social media feeds. Multiple social platforms are raising their game to maximise advertising revenue from retail brands, but some channels are gaining the traction over others. It’s expected that Instagram will grow 3x faster than the growth of overall social traffic, which translates to a 51% year-over-year increase in traffic to retail sites. Meanwhile, Facebook will see traffic referrals to retail sites shrink by seven percent as Instagram begins to own more traffic share.

Alongside referral traffic to retail sites, Instagram is working on a standalone e-commerce app called ‘IG Shopping’ which will allow its 1 billion monthly user base  to browse collections and make in-app purchases. Instagram will be leveraging its 25+ million business accounts to take on e-commerce competitor Shopify.

Last year Snapchat launched a new Discover channel called ‘Shop and Cop, which highlights app-exclusive e-commerce deals from chosen brands and enables on-platform purchasing of those items, so you can snap up the deals without leaving the app. The ephemeral usage of the app may prove challenging for brands to establish lead conversions from the platform.

The future….

Brand experiences will provide a key way to engage with target audiences through online and live experiences. Audiences expectations and values are changing; they want meaningful experiences over things. This provides brands huge scope to create compelling ‘onlive’ experiences whether as part of a product launch, pop-up, online or in-store experience. Authentic brand narratives will also build crucial emotional connections with consumer audiences – lasting brand affinity is based on personal feelings and emotive engagement and not on logical, short-term price point relationships.

This is the era of ‘New Retail’ where brands must focus on fulfilling the personalised needs of each consumer through emotive transformative brand experiences. Start your brand experience journey now and find out how we can help you engage with your audiences more meaningfully.

1. Blurring of online and offline

Audiences are seeking hybrid experiences that blur the boundaries of online and off-line – they still want to test products, engage with brands directly and for their experiences to be personalised. 

2. Creating a new retail experience

Consumers want brands to engage with them authentically, and they want to be active participants in their shopping experiences. Shopping is no longer transactional; it needs to be an emotive experience.

3. Personalisation from Big Data and AI-based recommendations

Technology like AI and AR can create more personalised customer journeys through targeted product recommendations as well as digital interactive product sampling either in-store or online. Behavioural analysis and tailoring of retail experiences will establish stronger brand affinity.

4. Micro-moments

Anticipating these retail micro-moments and conveying an authentic brand narrative, that addresses each touchpoint, will build a more emotive relationship with your audience. The more emotionally invested your customers are, the more they will choose and spend on your products and experiences over available alternatives.

5. Social Media as a significant driver for retail

Choosing the best referral channels like Instagram will bring significant growth for retail brands. Social media is evolving into e-commerce platforms and increasing ‘mobile-only’ and ‘in-the-moment’ shopping behaviours.

Contact - Create your brand experience

How eSports Changed the Game

The world of sports and entertainment is one which is constantly evolving, and every year seems to give rise to some new dawn or new innovation, which changes how these industries engage with their fans and audiences. The astonishing rise in the popularity of eSports (Electronic Sports) has been phenomenal to behold. Once, the realm of computer games and competitive gaming started as friends gathering in each other's homes to host LAN parties and playing into the night. Today, it has not only grown up as a discipline, with a generation-spanning audience of millions, it has become a multi-billion dollar industry, complete with large-scale eSports events, online gaming experiences which criss-cross the globe in real time, and incredible potential for brand sponsorship and marketing. 

It’s more than fair to say that eSports has well and truly left behind its niche and countercultural identity, and has been fully embraced by the big league, by the mainstream, and by major distributors on leading channels. The real tipping point perhaps emerged when Sky and ITV linked up with Ginx (a leading sports channel) to launch the groundbreaking Ginx Esports TV - a TV station broadcasting internationally, with eSports being played - often with live commentary and panel discussions included - all day, every day. The BBC has also started dipping their toes into the world of eSports, as have other prime broadcasters such as ESPN and BT Sport.

Naturally, there are still plenty of sceptics and detractors out there, claiming everything from the idea that eSports is a passing fad to that they shouldn’t be considered a professional sport at all. Likewise, there are many claiming that the skill set shown by eSports’ top players matches those of professional athletes, and that its rise in popularity shows a key step forward for the world of entertainment and spectator sports in general. No matter what people say, and no matter whether or not the eSports’ bubble of popularity will eventually burst, nobody could argue against the fact that eSports is here, it has hit the mainstream, and the opportunities it opens up in the worlds of marketing, sponsorship, and events are genuinely game-changing.

We’re going to be taking a closer look at the rise of eSports events and eSports experiences, and considering how online gaming is opening up new horizons for everyone involved.

Who Watches
and Plays eSports?

A huge part of the massive new appeal of eSports is that it is essentially open to everyone. Whether you’re a player or a spectator, all you really need to get involved is a device with an internet connection, and with the advent of superfast broadband, and the spread of eSports’ popularity across the globe, it is perhaps one of the first truly international entertainment forms the world has ever seen.

While the average eSports players tend to be men, the relative anonymity of player avatars and profiles mean that the spectrum of those getting involved is considerably broader than you’d find in other sporting events, as is the gender profile of the mass audience.

As far as age range goes, the audience is, as we might expect, primarily made up of younger fans. Computer games have been around for decades now, but as the modern eSports scene is heavily centred on the millennial and generation Z audience, the majority of both players and spectators tend to be in their teens and twenties. 

Esports audience growth

That aforementioned fast broadband speed (a major requirement for top players) has led to the largest audiences being based in South East Asia, with South Korea topping the table for the past few years. While the Asia-Pacific region, as shown in the above NewZoo chart, makes up for 53% of eSports enthusiasts in 2018, North America, India, and Japan are also huge centres for this rising industry. Indeed, internet cafes in even relatively remote parts of Asia being regularly filled with young fans, eager to get their fix of this growing industry.

ESports as a
Billion Dollar Industry

Once upon a time, the idea that anybody other than the most committed gaming fans would tune in to watch other people complete missions, fight virtual battles, or hunt for treasure on their screens would have been pretty fanciful. The idea of packing a stadium or filling any sort of large venue to do the same would have seemed downright absurd. However, such is the meteoric rise in popularity of eSports, and such is the remarkably fast evolution of the gaming industry as a whole, that this is exactly what is happening all over the world.

Studies have suggested that as many as 500 million people worldwide regularly tune in to watch eSports events or games; an audience which easily outstrips even relatively high profile ‘real’ sports which lack the same international or youth appeal.

Naturally, with such huge numbers of devoted fans, the events industry was quick to leap upon eSports as an opportunity for live contests, watched by gaming fans in real time in real spaces. Today, all over the world, events are set up to host eSports contests… and they’re pulling in some extremely impressive numbers. Take, for instance, the eSports equivalent of the football World Cup: the Intel Extreme Masters Series. Last year’s finals took place in Katowice, Poland, and 173,000 fans raced to the 11,000 capacity Spodek Arena for two weekends of gaming contests. Those not lucky enough to get tickets for this major industry event, however, didn’t have much to worry about - almost 50 million fans watched the whole contest online, and were able to interact with other viewers or attendees via their messengers and live feeds.

For those present in Katowice, though, this event offered far more than just a typical sporting showdown. It was something between a sporting event and a gaming expo, with live competitions providing a colourful backdrop for a whole host of mini-events, live gaming experiences, marketing drives, and showcases of the latest gaming technology - yet more evidence as to why this event type is rising in popularity year on year.

This year, the Intel Extreme Masters Series showed in no uncertain terms how much money the eSports industry is pulling in, and how far-reaching this new event type can be. Based around two highly popular multiplayer games; Counter-Strike and StarCraft II, the competition had a prize fund of almost £750 million. Other events offer similarly vast sums of money as cash prizes for the victors; the International Dota 2 Championship, which has been running since 2011 and is based around the massively popular multiplayer Dota 2, offers the winning team a prize of $10 million USD.

Counter Strike, Starcraft 2 and Dota2

Counter Strike, Starcraft 2 and Dota2

How has eSports become such an affluent industry? The answer lies primarily in those gargantuan viewing figures, and the possibilities and opportunities that open up to advertisers and sponsors. Think such sponsors would be relatively unheard-of gaming brands, keen to get across their latest shoot ‘em up? Think again. The Overwatch League - a relative newcomer to the eSports calendar - racks up viewing figures of over 10 million individuals and holds an average audience of 280,000 per minute. This event is sponsored by major brands, including Toyota and T-Mobile, keen to get involved in this fast-developing scene. Indeed, the Samsung Galaxy team recently won the coveted grand prize at the League of Legends finals, which saw all the team members become millionaires, on top of their lucrative sponsorship deal with the phone manufacturer.

ESports: Platform of
Giant Social Networks
and International Audiences

The eSports economy is one which is based primarily around its enormous audience figures, and the fact that its overheads - in relation to other major sporting events - are relatively tiny. Those vast audience numbers naturally attract sponsors of all types and from all industries, keen to tap into the massive youth market who might spend up to sixteen hours or longer following an event, and thus being able to take in a large quantity of advertising material.

Sponsorships of events and players currently dominate the largest share of the revenue space and took up almost 40% of the industry in 2018. A further 33% of the revenue comes directly from advertising, media rights, and content licenses, and the remaining 27% comes from game publishers’ fees, tickets, and merchandise. Interestingly, the revenue predicted to come from those latter sources - especially live event tickets - is predicted to rise considerably in the coming years. The below pie chart from Newzoo lays out the current eSports economy clearly.

Understanding the financial side of eSports, however, requires one to understand the new nature of entertainment and international audiences, things which eSports have as a fundamental aspect of their success. ESports are based around huge social networks of gamers and game fans; networks which encircle the globe, and have little or no connection to the normal location or nation-based allegiances that most mainstream sports events are based upon. There are a handful of local or national gaming teams, but these are definitely in the minority on the scene.

Alongside these huge social networks sits the importance of live streaming as a key part of eSports’ success. Streaming has opened up a significant new influencer market (something which platforms like YouTube has excelled at, with influencers, vloggers, and channels reaching unbelievably high viewing figures and vast international audiences), and streaming influencers have proven to hold a significant sway over the trust, purchasing habits, and word-of-mouth potential of their audiences. If you’re looking for more information on the incredible reach of gaming influencers, a list of the top 20 can be found here. As traditional media begins to weaken its grip on the public, and more organic, trusted channels open up, streaming influencers on YouTube and other platforms are filling the void and reaching audience numbers print and television media could never hope to achieve.

Fan Experiences,
Live and Online

Here at MCI Experience, we’re fascinated by the rise of eSports, and the potential this new horizon has brought about when it comes to direct fan experiences, both in a virtual space, and at live events, arena contests, and other expos and meet-ups. All over the world, eSports fan experiences are being established as the next brand sponsorship frontier. The sheer dedication of eSports fans, their knowledge that they are on the cutting edge of an entirely new industry, and the immersive nature of the gaming experiences in general make them a potent and effective marketing opportunity.

Whether as part of an online event, attended by millions of virtual attendees, or as part of one of the huge (and growing) live experiences, eSports events provide ample opportunity for interesting, unusual, direct, or disruptive brand encounters. Connecting a brand with an up-and-coming game or event is a smart move; the international figures and audience numbers involved in eSports mean that even relatively minor or small events can still have an audience of millions. What’s more, brands only need a small handful of influencers to pick up on marketing opportunities to hit a monumental online reach, which will be seen and trusted by audiences all across the globe.

To get an idea of the range, size, and influence of some of the world’s biggest eSports events, take a look at the following three examples:

Call of Duty World League Championship

The Call of Duty series of war-based games has regularly topped the lists of best-selling console games over the past ten years. Recently, the franchise has entered the world of major league live eSports events, and the World League Championship is now one of the biggest dates in the eSports calendar. 2018’s finals were held in Orlando, Florida, and packed out the local stadium while also gaining an online audience in the tens of millions.

DOTA2 The International, Seattle

For most online gamers, The International is the high point of the year, and sees an audience of millions tuning in to follow top DOTA2 players battle it out live in the pursuit of a prize fund which regularly tops $10 million. The 2015 DOTA2 Final (as part of The International Series) was a huge breakthrough for the eSports industry, as it was set up as a major arena-based sporting event, complete with vast video screens, live streaming, and all the vibrancy and atmosphere of a world cup final match.

The hosts of the event, KeyArena Seattle, allocated 10,000 tickets for the final. The tickets sold out in under an hour, a clear testament to the almost feverish popularity of this scene, and it formed the blueprint for several other eSports events that followed.

IEM Katowice 2019

The Intel Extreme Masters is returning to Poland in 2019, following an enormously successful run of events over the past couple of years. Looking at the promotional material for IEM 2019, which features no shortage of pyrotechnics and laser shows, you’d say it appeared to be something between a rock concert and international sporting event… which is probably exactly as its fans would describe it to be. Based around Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, this is a monumental event which will be viewed by millions worldwide, and tickets for the arena are expected to sell out fast. Attendees will get to cheer on their favourite teams, as well as have brand encounters with a wide range of sponsors and affiliated organisations.

The Intel Extreme Masters is returning to Poland in 2019, following an enormously successful run of events over the past couple of years. Looking at the promotional material for IEM 2019, which features no shortage of pyrotechnics and laser shows, you’d say it appeared to be something between a rock concert and international sporting event… which is probably exactly as its fans would describe it to be. Based around Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, this is a monumental event which will be viewed by millions worldwide, and tickets for the arena are expected to sell out fast. Attendees will get to cheer on their favourite teams, as well as have brand encounters with a wide range of sponsors and affiliated organisations. 

Esports: A Global Audience for
an Energized Events Industry

As we’ve seen, the rise of eSports as a global phenomenon and as a huge live event market doesn’t look like it will waver any time soon. With countless online influencers filling YouTube with videos viewed millions of times, physical events attracting major sponsors, and an international audience which is only set to grow beyond its current high point of around half a billion individuals, this is a market which offers truly incredible opportunities for innovative advertisers, brand engagement and events professionals. 

At MCI Experience, we’re always keen to keep our ear to the ground when it comes to new possibilities for the brand experience and events industry, and new ways for advertisers and marketers to reach diverse new audiences. As such, it’s fair to say that the world of eSports
has us very excited indeed, and deeply curious about what the future of this wing of the events and entertainment industry has in store. Packed out arenas, massive online meet-ups, and virtual tickets selling out in minutes is just the beginning… audiences want on-live and immersive experiences that are shareable and relevant.

If you’re interested in finding out more about what we do, or are interested in tapping into the latest trends when it comes to innovative marketing and events, we’d love to hear from you. We’ve got the skills and knowledge you need to take your brand engagement to the next level.

Creating Brand Experiences for Fans of Sporting Events

Brand activations and brand experiences have become an integral part of sporting events all over the world. As stadiums get larger, sports personalities become stronger, and teams and sporting locations become more brand-affiliated (with many teams or individuals becoming something akin to brands in themselves), more and more events managers and marketers in the world of sport are exploring brand activation opportunities. The result? A long list of possibilities which not only add to the overall experience of the event itself, but which have the potential to build lasting relationships between sports fans, and the brands they come across while attending events.

Sports events - which are often based around the same notions of identity, excitement, and optimism that innovative marketers want to elicit in their target audiences - are the perfect places for brand experiences and brand activations. With a savvy approach, an open mind, and by implementing social media and technology, it is possible to build authentic, lasting, and impactful relationships between sports fans and the teams (or brands) they love, which tap into that atmosphere of jubilation and interaction that’s at the heart of a truly great sports event.

Establishing Fan
Engagement

There was once a time when watching sport was much more of a passive pastime. It was, in the truest sense of the term, a ‘spectator sport’ - something which involved sitting in the terraces, cheering along, and then heading home. Today’s fans are considerably more demanding, and want deeper engagement with their favourite teams, their top players, with their beloved venues, and with the brands who make up a key part of the overall experience. Sports fans in the 21st century want, more than anything else, to be part of the action; the conversation; and feel more than mere spectators. 

There are many ways to boost fan engagement and make the most of sports events for brand activations. Here are three top tips for tapping into the energy and optimism of the terraces, and ensuring fans are happy, engaged, and primed to become the loyal customers your brand or event needs.

Newsletters and Social media contests

Newsletters and Social Media Contests

Whenever possible, you should be tying your newsletter in to your social media accounts. A great way to boost fan engagement is by setting up social media competitions; Twitter contests during or just before matches is a great way of inviting input, engaging fans, and letting them feel as though they are part of the event. You could run a hashtag contest, a caption contest, photo competitions, or anything else appropriate - studies have shown that fans are around 70% more likely to use Twitter in order to enhance the experience of the event, so tap into this social media platform, and see your levels of engagement rise.

Request Feedback

Do all you can to encourage conversation, and set up spaces where your fans’ voices can be heard; either by sending out feedback forms to your mailing list, or go with the easier and more contemporary option by posting questions on your social channels, setting up surveys via Facebook or Twitter. You could even invite the fans to share specific memories or photos, and get the conversation flowing that way. 

Actionable steps such as these won’t just boost engagement and get fans feeling like part of your brand family, they’ll also provide you with valuable insight into how well your efforts are resonating with your core audience!

bring fans closer to the action

Bring Fans Closer to the Action

Sports fans often idolise particular players or team members, and nothing boosts engagement like allowing them unique access and insights into the real lives of the stars you deal with. Encourage players to take ownership of one of your social media channels for the day, or share exclusive videos and photos of their real lives, training sessions, or charitable endeavours. Personal blogs, too, can be a great way to provide those extra insights, and bring the fans closer to their favourite sports stars.

Of course, you can step things up a gear by hosting special meet and greet events with the players, or host competitions which involve prizes such as coming along to a training session, winning signed memorabilia, or opportunities for an exclusive money-can't-buy experience. The England Footballers Foundation specialise in these up-close-and-personal encounters - often aimed at younger fans these experiences boost engagement and excitement with each promotional drive.

Understanding the
Three Levels of
Expression and Manifestation

In order to boost fan engagement, encourage long term relationships between the fans and your brand, and make those marketing efforts all the more effective, it’s important to be aware of the different fan engagement strategies out there. The majority of these strategies are based around the trinity of fan engagement behaviours, which are as follows:

Non-Transactional Behaviours

Online non-transactional behaviours would include following social media accounts associated with their favourite sports teams or the brands associated with them, consuming the content, contributing their thoughts and opinions, and even creating their own brand-related social content for sharing with their networks. Offline non-transactional behaviours would normally take place at the events themselves, and would include everything from encouraging and supporting the brand, to sharing positive word-of-mouth support with their friendship group.

transactional behaviours

Transactional Behaviours

As the name suggests, transactional behaviours are those which involve the fan spending money on brand-affiliated products, services, or experiences. These would include buying tickets, purchasing branded memorabilia or other items, paying for season passes, or signing up for paid memberships or paid content. Transactional behaviours and non-transactional behaviours usually go hand-in-hand: customers already engaging in non-transactional behaviours should already be interested and ‘warmed up’, ready to be converted into paying customers.

Long-Term Relationships

Encouraging fans and prospective brand customers to become involved in a long-term and loyal relationship with the brand is the ultimate goal of every brand manager or marketer. These customers will have a lasting emotional connection with the brand, and their favourite sports team will become a part of their identity, which they will share with others, and champion. Customers engaging in transactional behaviours are already on the way to establishing a relationship with the brand - it’s your job to boost engagement and use brand activations in order to get that ball rolling even further. 

How to Bring
Brand Experiences
into Sporting Events

As we’ve discussed, bringing brand activations and experiences into live sporting events is a fantastic way to boost engagement. They allow fans to get ever closer to the brand they love and identify with, and establish long term fanbase relationships. 

All over the world, sports venues and event managers are looking for ways to increase engagement and fan enjoyment, and push branding possibilities further. While this can involve grandiose and expensive displays of interconnectivity, it really doesn’t have to: often, the simpler, tried-and-tested brand activations are the most effective. Here are some of the most popular techniques for bringing brand experiences into sporting events:

The Photo Booth

Who doesn’t love a photo booth? There’s a sense of retro fun about these activations, and there is loads of opportunity for branding, from superimposing brand messages or logos over the photos, to setting up the photo booth to automatically upload the pictures on the brand’s social media channels. Contemporary photo booths come with a plethora of cool features, such as gif file creation, virtual backgrounds (such the option of having your photo featuring in the sports team lineup) and much more besides.

Skills Challenges

Get your fans to show off their skills inside the venue, and give them the chance to win some unique branded prizes. This could be a penalty shoot-out area, a basketball hoop, or virtual sports game setup. You could even turn this idea into a genuine tournament, and get the most skilled fans to compete against each other in order to win a grand prize at the end.

Sweepstakes

Sports fans love competitions, especially those which can be engaged with during matches. Photo and caption competitions have been part of the sports activation family of engagement practices, and social media connectivity has opened up endless variations on this theme. Text-to-win sweepstakes are a great addition to this (as well as hashtag-based competitions of similar format), as long as the branded prizes are tempting enough to encourage mass participation. 

Swagbags

Surprise and excite your fans with your branded goodies. Lots of sporting venues and events now sell different tiers of tickets to fans, with higher tiers coming with swagbags full of exclusive branded material and items. You could also up the ante by including a limited number of VIP experiences or signed items (eg a signed football shirt) in every 100 swagbags, which would add a competitive or sweepstake element to the activation. 

How Sports Teams
Engage Fans with
Venue Experiences

Keeping fans engaged live at the venue is as important as ensuring they’re staying engaged while at home, online, or sharing stories at their local with their friends. Here are three approaches which sports teams and brands regularly employ, to ensure peak levels of engagement are maintained during the events themselves.

Satisfying Fan’s Expectations

This can be something simple like timely playing the team’s signature music, or ensuring that the mascots are present and correct. In the world of sports experiences and activations, consistency is key: make sure you’re giving the fans what they want, what they expect, and what they increasingly demand from the overall encounter with the brand.

Exclusivity

Today’s sports fans want to be closer than ever to the action, and they’re increasingly willing to pay a premium in order to have a more exclusive, unique experience of the events they attend. By setting up tiers of exclusivity, offering VIP or pitchside tickets, meet and greets, and privileged access to otherwise private aspects of the event, you can help establish those all-important long-term relationships.

Boosting the
Experience via
Technical Channels

Many venues have leaned into the curve of smartphone usage during live events by offering free WiFi at events venues, and allowing fans to enjoy a more immersive experience. Having a running commentary via social media channels, and inviting hashtag interaction from fans has proven to be highly successful, and has provided a more holistic brand experience via the medium of smartphone technology. Photo activations incorporating experiential tech work particularly well when brands want to involve fans, generate live and online hype, and create a real sense of community. 

How Sports Events are Utilising Brand Activation

Manchester City and Snappie iPad App

Manchester City considers itself a football team ahead of the curve when it comes to fan engagement and brand activations. Their team-up with the Snappie iPad app saw promo staff conducting impromptu meet-and-greet moments around Etihad stadium, during which fans could express their thoughts and love for the team. The videos were then compiled for sharing on social media, and the brand gained a deep insight into the hopes, wishes, and feelings of the fans. 

Be There With Hyundai World Cup 2018

This fascinating and creative brand activation for the 2018 world cup really hit the right notes when it came to allowing fans to have their voices heard, and their own creativity counted. Hyundai ran an online competition which allowed fans to submit slogans for the 32 competing teams, and then a poll voting for the winners. The best slogans were then printed on the sides of the team buses, where they could be seen at the venues, on the media, and all around the world.

Stella Artois at Wimbledon

As one of Wimbledon’s key sponsors, Stella Artois always make bold efforts to enhance fan experiences and show off the latest technology for their brand activations. In 2015, they established a brand activation which set the template for many to follow: they created a VR flying experience starring Rufus the Hawk (the venue’s beloved bird of prey), which captured the eccentricity and fun of the event, and allowed for fans to enjoy a lasting - albeit unusual - memory to take home with them.

Boosting Brand Experience
and Encouraging
Fan Engagement

As we’ve seen, there are plenty of ways top sports teams and events are encouraging fan engagement and establishing brand relationships, many of which are utilising innovative technology and new approaches to marketing. It's a truly exciting time to be creating brand experiences for fans of sporting events as traditional techniques make way for more inventive, immersive experiences and activations.

With the upcoming Rugby World Cup in Japan, not to mention the Olympic Games next summer, there's never been a better time to enhance your sporting event with brand experiences and activations that will unite your fan base. It's time to create deeper brand engagement with your audience - let's get the ball rolling! Drop us a line or give us a bell to design your brand experience. 

Four Key Takeaways from Sibos 2018

Over 7,500 people gathered in Sydney for Sibos 2018, and we were fortunate to join them to glean the latest insights.

Here’s four learnings we took away from the world’s largest banking and financial conference.

Given the number of security breaches this year alone – the latest being Eurostar – it came as no surprise that cyber security was high on the agenda. The conversations addressed measures to prevent threats from the dark web and organised cybercrime. With a mega 3-5% of global GDP tied to financial crimes, it’s never been more important to tighten up risk management and protect customer data.

Recent research indicates that one in five people (21%) have been victims of a breach. Out of this 34% experienced a financial loss. Prevention is absolutely key; banks cannot afford to withstand reputational damage. After a security incident, 78% of respondents stated they would no longer engage with the brand online, and 36% would stop completely. Interestingly despite these divisive figures, customers are not prepared to pay for increased protection. The onus firmly sits with banks who need to be more accountable for cyber security, or risk damage to their business and customer pool.

Shifting payment landscape

There’s no doubt that the customer needs to sit firmly at the centre, which is why there’s been so much interest in the future of payments. Top takeaways from Sibos include the forecast projection that we could all be using in excess of ten different payment methods in the next five years – thus growing e-commerce and m-commerce. With the rise of payments through wearable technology and social media, banks will need to change up their approach in order to stay relevant.

What’s more, instead of traditional players competing with alternative payment provider services and FinTechs, they should instead learn to collaborate and enjoy the mutual benefits of closer working. The customer will ultimately benefit from these relationships and the payment process will become smoother and more transparent as a result.

Digital tech investment soars

Not only have we seen an influx of tech companies investing in banking – think Apple Pay and Google Pay – we’ve also seen the reverse too. Alan McIntyre senior managing director and head of Accenture said: “Some of the largest banks, the top five, see a lot of investment in digital and into the future. Some of the regional banks are more challenged, and part of the reason is the huge reliance on technology vendors, so their ability to move quicker is somewhat limited. Market share is clearly moving toward the large players, the top three or top five, partly because they have invested in digital”.

In recent weeks and months we’ve seen headlines announcing vast sums of investments into digital tech. HSBC forecasts an investment of $15-17 billion in new technology alone. The banking giant has reportedly spent $2.3 billion to improve its artificial intelligence (AI) and digital capabilities. Nationwide Building Society, too, plans to spend £1.3bn over the next five years to expand its offering and compete with FinTech disruptors. Although Nationwide is heavily investing in machine learning, it’s not neglecting the value of its human workforce, hence its plans to create up to 1,000 jobs with a new tech hub.

Bottom line: customers are changing and so must banks. FinTechs like Monzo have seen a huge flurry of interest due to their streamlined processes and optimised interfaces. Traditional players are playing catch up and investing in digital tech in the hope to elevate customer experience and update their offering.

DISRUPTIVE BANKING ICON

‘Embrace Disruption’ was a key learning from Sibos. Whether that be artificial intelligence as we’ve seen earlier; chat bots to improve customer engagement; faster and more open payments with APIs or improved fraud detection.

The connotations of disruption were flipped on their head and seen as an opportunity to meet customer needs in increasingly dynamic and innovative ways. Surprisingly blockchain did not feature as prominently within the Sibos programme despite its joint potential with cryptocurrencies to disrupt the financial landscape. The adoption of disruptive techniques could see a real difference in bottom lines for companies and equally customer satisfaction.

Looking ahead to Sibos 2019

We’re excited that Sibos will make its next stop in London! With 2.3 million people employed in the financial services industry alone, Sibos 2019 will prove significant for the UK. Michael Ward, British Consul-general and director general, Department for International Trade, Australia & NZ, noted that “such a high proportion of global financial services happen in London and Sibos is about that connectivity between banks and the financial services industry”. He continued that FinTech is worth “about 7 billion sterling to the economy at the moment” so therefore will attract an even stronger presence next year.

Will your company have a presence at Sibos? Our relationship with Sibos spans 12 years, so if you’re planning to attend and looking for support with your event concept, exhibition stand design, or engagement strategy, connect with us to get the ball rolling: hello@mciexperience.com

How are Audiences Influencing Content Creation and Defining Entertainment?

Mipcom headlined this week in France to the most creative minds and stars in the entertainment business world. Across 15-18 October 2018, buyers, producers, and top TV and creative content specialists assembled for world-first premieres and trailblazing Hollywood blockbuster screenings.

Emmy winner Ben Stiller’s highly anticipated series, “Escape at Dannemora”, premiered on Monday to a rapt audience of critics. In the latest release we follow a manhunt in America for two convicted murderers who have broken out of prison – we’re gripped already. Dubbed to be the next big thing, “Escape at Dannemora” will air on SHOWTIME and be available to stream.

Entertainment is changing from the content and creative, to the way we consume it. But how exactly are audiences influencing entertainment?

And what effect will this have on the way we deliver content within events?

netflix

Shifting audiences

The media ecosystem is rapidly evolving. Rather than targeting content at markets, producers now must tap into audience insights and create content that they’ll be sure to consume – or risk extinction.

Extreme, you might say? When we look closely at viewer’s behaviour we can see that a whole host of factors are seismically shifting. In recent research led by Ampere Analytics we can see that Netflix and Amazon Prime audiences are hungry for three prominent genres: Drama, Comedy and Sci-Fi. Using data driven insights these streaming giants can focus on creating on top performing content that viewers crave. Crime and thriller programmes are on the rise, so Ben Stiller’s latest release might hit the sweet spot of this growing trend.

Netflix’s Upcoming Programme by Genre (257)

Netflix figures

 

Data provided by Ampere Analytics

Amazon Prime Video’s Upcoming Programmes by Genre (97)

amazon

Data provided by Ampere Analytics

We’re sure you’ll agree that one of the beauties of streaming is its accessibility – the fact you can stream anywhere, on any device, at any time that suits you. It’s no longer about waiting for the next airing of your favourite TV show; we’re digitally liberated and free from our broadcasting shackles.

It’ll therefore come as no surprise that there are more subscriptions in the UK to the likes of Netflix, Amazon and NOW TV than ‘traditional’ paid-for TV. OFCOM reported that these online streaming services reached 15.4 million in Q1 of 2018, overtaking paid-for TV at 15.1 million. This is the first time that streaming has overtaken and whizzed by in the fast lane, waving euphorically at paid-for TV in the rear mirror! And we can’t see it changing any time soon.

The knock on effect of this means that the same content expectations and audience consumption habits apply to the world of events – expectations have never been greater in terms of personalised, convenient and accessible content. Watch a live keynote on your mobile from elsewhere in the venue, catch up on key interviews whilst eating lunch, or review the highlights of the day on the way home. The speed at which we can access content is paramount but so, too, is the device. Events need to think mobile first to ensure that content is easily navigable and fully optimised for all platforms.

The benefits are indisputable. Event live streaming and catch up reach a far larger global audience than those who physically attend, meaning more revenue, more visibility for partners and sponsors, and real-time online interactions. Not to mention that the content can be recycled, reused and re-shared – extending the content’s lifecycle.

Snackable content is on the rise

In a time starved world we’re seeing a rise in short, snackable content lasting a mere 15 minutes. Audience’s attention spans are altering and so must event content. Shorter sessions disrupt the traditional event model and reflect the audience’s changing content digestion.

47% of all mobile-video viewing time is consumed on content less than 20 minutes long says video platform provider, Ooyala. Instagram stayed well ahead of this curve and launched IGTV in June this year; rivalling YouTube, verified users can upload videos ranging from 10 – 60 minutes.

As viewing habits shift from TV to online we see an equal shift in the way people consume entertainment and content. Rather than watching one episode of a series, we’re skipping ahead and binging. Netflix reports that users spent 100 million hours a day watching content!

Big broadcasting houses like the BBC are spotting this trend in their own viewing figures, particularly in younger audiences as the iPlayer’s popularity spiked by 151% (from 1.5 billion to 3.8 billion programmes accessed per year) between 2010 and 2016.

The entertainment industry is responding to a shifting audience market; a streamlined and enhanced customer experience is key to retaining membership and views month after month.

Tech as a matchmaker

Technology as a matchmaker

Technology is developing a reputation as a matchmaking enabler. We know what we like, and so does the power of AI. It’s the perfect recipe for a personalised customer experience.

Online streaming providers also benefit from this content matchmaking affair. Machine learning offers intensely rich data insights which all help to develop highly targeted and unique marketing personas.

It’s a simple equation: user’s scientific data + crafted entertainment = personalised customer content experience.

Stranger things

The likes of Netflix capitalise on this data to create storylines and engaging entertaining concepts. Netflix Original is driven by these insights and it’s seen the launch of worldwide hits like Orange is The New Black and Stranger Things. The whole customer journey is considered from your most popular viewing times, to your favourite device.

An incredible 15 million viewers tuned into Stranger Things 2. How did Netflix do it? AI promoted ST on the home screen to viewers of the series and potential prospects; it launched on the Friday before Halloween (ensuing a major binge weekend); and the storyline was even set during Halloween. Needless to say it’s also a sci-fi thriller and what else would we choose to watch as the nights begin to draw in!

Nascent interactive alternative endings like Black Mirror are shaping the future of customer content experiences. The work behind these seamless, HD quality productions is no mean feat! Hundreds of hours in production and content creation will go into the making of interactive storyline endings. This will open up more opportunity for creative risks and give an even deeper insight into customer psychology.

Event content can figuratively take a leaf out of Netflix’s book. Audiences should be the focal point: influencing the content and defining the entertainment.

Disrupt the traditional content format and hand over the reins to your audience with the use of interactive event gamification and alternative session endings! Some call this format an unconference when in actual fact you are just providing them with a choice, an opportunity to proactively select what they want to hear and engage with. Not only will this liberate the flow, it will also increase engagement and create a lasting memory – which is what events are all about!

Our learnings from Mipcom

Content creation game changers

Producers and content creators are facing new challenges and equally new opportunities. There’s an innate fear that data will trump creative, and that content will only be created based on consumer behaviour. On the flipside, it opens up the possibility of producing truly spectacular, disruptive content which breaks the norm and cuts through the noise.

Responses to a reshaped media landscape

This year’s Mipcom asked the big question: how will the entertainment industry transition to a reshaped media landscape? Carolyn McCall, ITV’s CEO, remarked that ITV has “communities of fans that want to have a deeper relationship”. Traditional media giants need to compete with streaming services and offer direct-to-consumer services. ITV’s answer is to launch an augmented streaming product, so watch this space!

Evolving audiences: evolving content

Audiences are defining the way that content is created, consumed and digested – and the demand is ever growing. Now is the time to work smart with technology, breakthrough with unique content, and firmly fix our gaze on the customer content experience journey.

At MCI Experience, we believe that a new approach to content is essential – one that makes all content personal and authentic. We like staying on top of the latest industry insights and paving the way to new solutions for our clients.

Thinking of changing up your event and its content? Get in touch

How to Leverage the Power of Event Gamification

One of the great things about event gamification is that - although you may have been told otherwise - it’s incredibly easy to apply to the event experience. What’s more, when it is applied correctly, it’s highly effective at helping you achieve your goals, and ensure your attendees are kept smiling and engaged from start to finish.

We know full well the challenges event planners face, in getting caught up in logistics, and then lacking time to think creatively. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that events are essentially all about human-oriented experiences. Designing gamification into your event can put fun, engaging, rewarding, and memorable event interactions firmly back on the agenda.


At MCI Experience, we’re fascinated by the way gamification in event marketing has pushed the industry forwards. As we’re always keen to share our own insights on how to make it work for our clients, we’ve put together this introduction on the basics, to hopefully give you some ideas on how to best leverage the impressive power of gamification in your event design.


What is Event Gamification?


We all know how fun, addictive, and absorbing gaming can be. Anyone who was born after the late ‘70s most likely grew up in the golden age of video games, and probably still has the theme tune to Super Mario Bros etched into their unconscious.

Event gamification takes the enjoyment and addictive qualities of computer games, and attempts to bring them into real life situations, productive activities, and aspects of everyday life. The result? An array of activities which have a new level of enjoyment injected into them, and a clear set of achievable goals (or points, or objectives reached etc.) which boosts engagement and entertainment to whole new heights. Gamification is a powerful tool that can help drive behavioural outcomes in your audience.

Some statistics about gamification:
This infographic clearly shows that gamification is an effective method of increasing productivity - and a fast growing market at the same time.

gamification statistics - event gamification

source - digitalchalk

Games - both computer games and ‘real world’ games - have an incredible ability to keep people focused and engaged over long periods of time. We all know how the hours fly by when we’re having fun, just as we know how much more productive we can be when we’re aiming towards a specific goal, or finding ourselves on a well-laid-out mission.

Whether that goal is saving a princess, finalising a plan, or breaking the ice at a workshop or event, gamification quite simply achieves a fun, highly engaging and memorable experience for the audience.

Can Gamification Really Motivate People?


Motivation is a key word when it comes to gamification and gamification marketing. Just think about it for a moment, and turn your mind to the kinds of ‘real-life’ games and computer games we all know and love. They all use psychology and emotion to engage the player:

  • Determination. People involved in games (again, either on a device or in real life situations) are driven to achieve objectives and win. By making sure levels are cleared and goals are obtained, they’re able to move on to the next activity and are motivated to do so… and what’s more, it demonstrates clearly to the player how their skills and experience are paying off. It incentivises future achievement.
  • Blissful Productivity. This expression refers to the fact that when playing a game, the player becomes somewhat oblivious to the world around them. Their worries and cares go out of the window, and the game provides them with a clear purpose to focus on and complete.
  • Empathy. Through engaging players through storytelling within the game, they are able to turn the story into their own ideas and experience through ‘neural coupling’.
  • Growth. Learning new skills permanently increases the volume of our brain’s ‘white matter’, which helps form connections between cells. It also promotes better memory recollection.
  • Trust and Cooperation. The world of gaming was one of the first industries to really explore the potential of social networking and interaction. Role playing games, especially, have proven that people from all sorts of backgrounds can join together seamlessly to explore new worlds and complete missions side by side.
  • True Optimism. One of the key features of games is that often, they require you to fail over and over again before you can progress and master the skills needed to succeed. And yet, the players do not give up, and do not become complacent. They possess a real sense of optimism that drives them to continue.

Each of these aspects of gaming can be successfully brought about through event gamification, and without much difficulty. By taking an open-minded approach to event engagement, and by bringing game elements to your event, you can ensure that your attendees are truly motivated to explore all your event has to offer.

The key is to ensure that the game challenges and application of gamification enhances your brand messaging and the purpose of your event. Technology and gamification needs to facilitate your message not distract from it.

Event Gamification vs. Gamification Marketing


There’s no doubt about the fact that gamification has proven to be highly effective when it comes to event marketing, and marketing as a whole. Gamifying your marketing efforts is a fantastic way to quickly grab the attention of your target audience, as it gives them a reason not to skip past your advert or ignore your outreach attempt, but instead engage with it and see what you’re all about.

On top of this, gamification is all about tapping into emotions… and nobody could deny that establishing an emotional connection with a potential client, customer, or attendee is a powerful tool that often brings impactful results. However, it’s not necessarily easy to strike the perfect balance that leads to the most positive outcomes.

Event promoters often make the mistake of forgetting that event attendees are smart, savvy people… and if your agenda with your gamification marketing efforts is to sell a product, sell more tickets, or push a sponsor onto your audience, you need to bear in mind that your audience is likely to catch onto what you’re trying to do.

Audiences are wary of advertising and brand messages and no longer take brands at face value. They want brands to engage with them meaningfully. There needs to be a balance between real marketing, transparency, and a genuinely fun and enjoyable way of engaging people… otherwise that engagement you’re trying to achieve may end up falling flat. Get it right, however, and you’re on the route to a real marketing winner!

Techniques That Really Work


At MCI Experience, we consistently help our clients with bringing truly effective elements of gamification into their events. Forbes has some great ideas for enhancing event experiences with gamification, and puts it into a three-step system that we’d highly advise taking on board. With this approach, it becomes clear that often the most workable solutions are the simplest, and it doesn’t take a huge amount of effort or planning to see positive results brought about.

An overview of the eight key steps to gamifying your organization.

event gamification

source - Brett Knowles

It should always be about personalisation of the experience and the gamification strategy needs to reflect and work for the particular audience. Through audience insights you can ensure that the design of the gamification experience matches your objectives as well as the preferences of how your audience likes to learn, specifically around gaming.

Gamification for Ice Breaking

Try bringing some networking games into the start of your event, and giving your attendees the chance to get to know each other in a fun, stimulating environment. Gamification is also a great strategy for onboarding, it can be effective in allowing talents to engage with each other as well as communicating the objective; increase in sales, change behaviour or embed values.

Gamification for Engagement

As every event organiser knows, engagement is the key to a good event, and gamified aspects of elements have proven time after time to seriously boost how engaged your attendees are. Try this game to get people really involved with what’s going on before the event even takes place:

  • Set up a series of social media games and contests a week or two prior to your event.
  • For example, ask your ticket holders to use the event’s hashtag in a creative way, or set up a contest for most frequent or interesting use of the hashtag. Naturally, there will be a prize for the winner, which should promote engagement more fully while ensuring you get plenty of online exposure!

Gamification for Problem Solving

Setting problem solving challenges for your attendees is a fantastic way of encouraging teamwork, getting people thinking logically, critically, and creatively, and opening channels of communication that have lasting results. It follows the principles of design thinking where through empathy, brainstorming of ideas, and testing, a group with this solutions-based approach can come up with some surprising results.

Many businesses are turning to gamification to help in addressing and solving real-world problems. When you take a real-world problem and put a spin on it to provide a challenging, fun and interactive environment in which to solve it; the audience has more drive to want to solve the problem and realise the reward/ recognition for their achievement.

You can reach a diverse range of people from a whole host of backgrounds and education to address a solution to a problem that might not have otherwise been able to be reached without the concept of problem-solving through gamification. By brainstorming collectively, an unlimited number of participants can ultimately increase the opportunity of solving the problem that is presented.

This problem could be a global issue, or one that your business or industry faces. Within a simulation type of environment attendees or trainees have the ability to test their skills and potentially contribute to research or business/industry breakthroughs.

Using Apps for Event Gamification


Using a custom-made app or an existing app as part of your event can also be a great way to bring in elements of gamification, and in today’s smartphone-oriented world, is a savvy way of increasing engagement. There are loads of great apps and examples out there which have proven to do the job perfectly, and almost all of them encourage attendees to get involved, join in with games or challenges, and take their experience to another level. Check out our favourite examples here:

#  Bounty Tasker

Bring the fun of an RPG into your event with this great app. It’s essentially a to-do list, but users get to assign themselves a character and gain points upon completion of each task, which can be used to buy new outfits and accessories!

bounty tasker - event gamification

source - bountytasker

Challenge Timer

Challenge Timer uses the Pomodoro method to break big tasks up into bite-size chunks, which must be completed within a certain time! Unlike other Pomodoro timers, this one has no pause button… which means users have to get busy in order to get points!

Epic Win

This productivity app is perfect for meetings and other events in which goals need to be met, tasks need to be completed, and fun needs to be had. It’s a stunningly designed app (in fact, it looks like a real game most people would be happy to pay for in the App Store), with loads of options for customisation.

source - wired

Gamification could be something as simple as setting up an Instagram contest, wherein the best photo with your event’s hashtag attached can win a prize by the end of the day. They could be more complex, and involve a custom app which requires attendees to reach certain checkpoints, answer questions, or check in to certain stations in order to win badges or points. However you choose to go about it, apps - now more than ever - very much have a place within the real world of events, and this isn’t going to change any time soon.

Misconceptions About Event Gamification


We’ve spent plenty of time talking about what event gamification is, and what it can achieve. However, as with any new approach, there are plenty of misconceptions flying around, too. Let’s take a look at a handful of misplaced ideas to bear in mind when applying this concept to your event.

It’s Not Just About Apps

As previously mentioned, apps are a great way to add gamification elements to your event and boost engagement. However, simply getting your attendees to download an app isn’t always enough. Nothing beats real, authentic involvement which involves people mingling and talking face-to-face… so don’t rely solely on technology to get the results you want. There may also be resistance to downloading an app that has limited usability for the user.

Gamification isn’t for Everyone

People want personalised experiences, and everyone has a different approach to events and what they want to get from the experience. Don’t expect everyone to want to get involved in every game, and don’t push people too hard to engage with gamification if it isn’t up their street!

Have a range of options available, and an array of alternative activities for people to participate in. Gamification may not be the right fit for your event message or target audience - when planning you need to access the relevance of gamification with your event objectives.

Gamification isn’t About Winning

People don’t go to events or conferences to win, they go to have an experience, to learn, to meet people, and to listen to and share ideas. If your gamification options are solely based on prize winning and individual attendees ‘beating’ others in games, you’ll quickly lose engagement and leave too many people unsatisfied.

Sure, include some prizes along the way, but choose games and activities which have goals other than some giveaway or physical reward. Your audience seeks value and wants to benefit from your brand experience and this can be realised through many different avenues.

Event Gamification: A New Trend That Can Make A Huge Difference


We’ve seen first-hand how gamification can make events more fun, more engaging, and more dynamic, and we’ve also seen how it boosts marketing efforts by a considerable degree. Gamification can enhance how an audience engages with a brand or at your event, it can help brand narrative, messaging and brand association be more memorable through personalised experiences.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this introduction to the dynamic world of gamification.

At MCI Experience we’re pioneers of personalised brand and event experiences. We love sharing our insights into all the latest trends, and helping our clients find the perfect solutions for their brand challenges.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch to find out exactly what we can do for you!

An Introduction to Design Thinking for Event Professionals

One of the challenges that seems to be consistently shared by nearly every event planner is finding a way to balance what is perceived to have worked in the past with what needs to change for the future.

Changing audiences ultimately mean that event formats must evolve. Relying on the traditional approaches and expertise that the events industry has been using for years to design event experiences will not be sufficient to create the next generation of event experiences.  A new interdisciplinary approach that engages a much wider range of skills and disciplines is the future of experience design.

How can we change the way we think and create new innovative solutions for event and experience delivery? Design thinking is a unique way of problem solving but with a solutions-focused and human-centric approach. The attendee or audience is very much at the centre of the design thinking process. By developing a deeper understanding of your target audience, you gain insight and empathy to come up with more strategic and creative event solutions.

Here we outline the key principles of Design Thinking and why it’s such an effective approach to developing attendee-focused solutions.

Action Phases of Design Thinking

These actions are not always sequential and instead, you should look at it as an overview of the phases that contribute to an innovative project and can happen in any order through the design thinking process.

Design Thinking Empathise

  1. Empathise – with your audience

A design-led approach looks at identifying with your target audience for through personas or empathy maps for example.

Design Thinking Define

  1. Define – your audiences’ needs, their problem/s, and your insights

Identify what your attendees’ needs and pain points are – this will help you to frame your solutions around your audience and the project/business objectives.

Design Thinking Ideate

  1. Ideate – by challenging assumptions and creating ideas for innovative solutions

Come up with as many ideas as possible through brainstorming to go beyond the obvious solution routes.

Design Thinking Prototype

  1. Prototype – to start creating solutions

Build and visualise ideas through storyboarding and prototypes.

Design Thinking Test

  1. Test – solutions

Review and refine – by testing concepts with a test group you can see what resonates and how concepts can be developed further.

Design Thinking

Why Design Thinking is a unique way of thinking?

  1. Using both sides of the brain to solve problems

  2. Switching at will between rational and intuitive approach

  3. Iterating between analysis and creation

  4. Deal with ill-defined problems

  5. Target to improve audience’s experience

In practice, design thinking is a set of planning principals that enables you to move from the traditional approach to event planning towards a more structured, attendee-centric, insights-driven and strategic way of planning events.

In design thinking, the focus is on the people and experience.  It is a human-centered approach to event planning that helps us to get a deep, empathetic understanding of our attendee’s wants and needs, whilst encouraging creative consideration of a wide array of innovative event experiences and solutions.

We’re all designers and with design thinking we can revolutionise the event experience to engage deeper with our audiences.

If you are interested in finding out more of how to utilise design thinking or strategies for experience design and audience engagement, get in touch with us!

hello@mciexperience.com

+44 (0)20 353 00100

Eventprofs raise your gameDesign Thinking

What Not to Miss During this Year’s London Design season! #LDF18

We love this time of year where the best from the world of design is curated and celebrated across the city. We’re spoilt for choice with so many design programmes to choose from; it was hard work but here is what’s on our design-thinking radar for London Design Festival #LDF18.

The Art of Music in the Digital Age: a series of world-first designs – Beatie Wolfe [V&A Museum]

We’re all about immersive and multi-sensory installations and musician and technology innovator Beatie Wolfe has been invited by the V&A to showcase a series of album innovations. Wolfe’s work explores how technology can be used to re-evoke a sense of storytelling, ceremony and tangibility for music in the digital age. With a sense of theatre, technology and immersion, this ‘Fantasia-like’ installation bridges the physical and digital as well as reimagines the vinyl experience in retro-future ways.

Wolfe’s latest design is the Raw Space Experience, which will allow visitors to enter an anechoic chamber and immerse themselves in a ceremonial listening experience, while live AR animations bring the album’s artwork and lyrics to life in real-time. Come hear the sound of silence, a blast from the past, and the music launched into deepest space.

The Raw Space experience has been described as “like walking around in a dream someone had made for me” by The New Scientist, “an extraordinary production: music and visuals” by BBC Radio 4 and “utterly ground-breaking” by Fast Company. Wolfe is also joining the Global Design Forum at the V&A to discuss Designing for the Senses [further in the blog]

  • Saturday, 15 – Sunday, 23 September 2018

  • 10.00 – 17.30

  • Prince Consort Gallery, Level 3

  • Cromwell Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW7 2RL

  • Free event


 

Colourscape Music Festival [Clapham Common]

Along the theme of music and colour, we’re excited about being cocooned in colour! Before you explore the many interconnected chambers spanning nearly an acre, you don a coloured cape so you too become part of the rainbow landscape. Specially composed music for acoustic instruments and semi-improvised music with live electronic processing will explore the relationships between colour, sound and space and be performed throughout Colourscape. You experience the intensity and subtlety of colour in a new way as well as atmospheric sound through the kaleidoscopic labyrinth.

  • Saturday, 15 – Sunday, 23 September 2018

  • 12.00 – 13.00 [weekdays], 12.00-17.00 [weekends]

  • Windmill Dr, London SW4 9DE

  • £5.00-£11.00

Global Design Forum [V&A]

Global Design Forum is London Design Festival’s curated thought leadership programme, celebrating design and the minds shaping its future. Taking place throughout the Festival at the V&A, the Forum features a unique mix of talks, debates, tours and workshops that together reflect the most innovative thinking in the world of design today.

Inspirational design-thinkers from all corners of the global design community will share new perspectives on designing for a shifting future. From design values and housing solutions, to the power of disruption, be informed and inspired by industry’s innovators.

Here’s a couple of sessions worth noting:

Designing an Experience, Physical and Digital [Tuesday, 18 September] with pioneering film maker Jessica Brillhart 

The Business Value of Design [Tuesday, 18 September]  Ben Sheppard, partner at McKinsey Design will present this world-first study

Designing for the Senses [Wednesday, 19 September] with three leading innovators including Beatie Wolfe

  • Saturday, 15 – Sunday, 23 September 2018

  • Various times: check schedule

  • Cromwell Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW7 2RL

  • Variable pricing

 

London Design Biennale [Somerset House]

This year focuses on Emotional States with artists and designers from 40 countries, cities and territories producing work around this concept. As you’d expect, there are highly personalised and diverse interpretations that explore big questions and ideas about sustainability, social equality, energy and migration. Taking over the entirety of Somerset House, visitors can explore and engage with these immersive and interactive installations. Collectively this celebrates the universal power of design and the role of design in our collective futures.

  • Tuesday, 4 – Sunday, 23 September 2018

  • 11.00 – 18.00 [Mon, Tue, Sat, Sun], 11.00-20.00 [Wed-Fri]

  • Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA

  • £0-£19.50

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Design Junction [Southbank]

Just down the road from us, designjunction is showcasing the forefront of product, lighting and furniture design from major and disruptive brands from around the world. Set across three Southbank venues, a mix of global furniture, lighting, accessory, material and technology brands will be exhibiting alongside pop-up shops, installations, and interactive features. 

#DesignEvery Talks Programme covers a wide range of topics including many of our favourite subjects including, Design Thinking, User Experience, Brand Engagement and Ethical Design. One that has particularly peaked our interest is the Experience Design session “What does it take to engage in the age of information overflow?” which explores how we are increasingly seeking experiences over things to enrich our daily lives. The panel which includes Sam Bompas of Bompas & Parr, discusses this phenomenon through a cross section of disciplines from food to film.

  • Thursday, 20 – Sunday, 23 September 2018

  • 11.00 – 20.00 [Thurs-Fri], 11.00-17.00 [Sat-Sun]

  • Doon Street, SE1 9PU: Furniture, Lighting and Shops

  • OxoTower Wharf, SE1 9PH: Projects and Exhibitions

  • Riverside Walkway, SE1 9LT: Outdoor Installations

  • £16.00

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Mind Pilot installation by Loop.pH [Design Museum]

We are firm believers in the power of the mind but with this installation it is literally put to the test. Spatial laboratory Loop.pH invites visitors to pilot an airship using the power and focus of their minds inside the museum’s atrium for London Design Festival.

Free tickets to pilot the airship are available from Monday 17 September on a first come, first served basis so make sure you’re first in line. The pilot wears a virtual reality headset that stimulates the sense of being in flight, and a device that measures brain waves and sends signals that navigate the balloon through the space. Get your wings as a Mind Pilot!

  • Saturday, 15 – Sunday, 23 September 2018

  • 10.00 – 18.00

  • 224-238 Kensington High Street, London W8 6AG

  • Free event

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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I am so excited to finally announce a new commission called Mind Pilot. A mind powered airship to fly in the Design Museum’s atrium for London Design Festival For eight days during the festival, the spatial laboratory Loop.pH will animate the Design Museum’s atrium with an interactive, site-specific installation called Mind Pilot. Visitors to the museum will have the opportunity to pilot the textile airship using the power and focus of their minds. The Design Museum has announced a major new London Design Festival installation, a mind-powered hot air balloon that can be controlled by visitors One visitor at a time will be connected via a headset to a series of personal monitoring devices. These will detect the visitor’s heart rate and brain activity, controlling the robotics that move the balloon. This installation encourages the idea of an inclusive future where people with varying physical abilities can use thought control to operate flight. Mind Pilot is commissioned by Ameena M. McConnell, Curator at Large of the Design Museum with support from Arts Council England’s Change Makers Fund. #ldf #designmuseum #eegtech #eeg #airship @designmuseum @l_d_f_official

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Increasing Customer Engagement Through Brand Experience

Customer engagement is about more than selling - it’s about taking your audience on a journey, and making a lasting connection which leads to heightened brand awareness. It’s about showing your clientele that you see them, hear them, and connect to them, and - importantly - that you have the solutions they seek.

Here at MCI Experience, we constantly strive to stay on top of all the latest trends and movements in the industry, and love sharing our knowledge and expertise when it comes to experiential marketing and events. Want to find out more about what we do? We’d love to hear from you so don’t hesitate to get in touch!

What Exactly is Customer Engagement?

Customer engagement is many things to many people. On the one hand, it’s based on what marketers have been doing for generations: making a connection with their customer base, and demonstrating that you’re on the same page as they are.

On the other, it introduces a level of interactivity which is very much of the 21st century; it’s about fostering a space in which meaningful interactions can take place, memorable and exciting experiences can be had, and thoughts and ideas can be shared.

Brands which decide to invest in and focus on customer engagement strategies are taking the route of value creation, rather than that of revenue extraction. They’re investing their time and effort into growing and developing their brand, and sowing the seeds of brand loyalty and recognition.

Customer engagement strategies make your marketing efforts more effective  and beneficial by all means:


customer engagement strategy

source - apogaeis

Such businesses seek to have the edge over their competitors, and to stand head and shoulders above the ever-growing crowd… and studies are showing that their efforts are more than paying off as a result. When it comes to the events industry, there’s no doubt whatsoever that customer engagement is one of the most vital KPI’s there is, simply because in the events business, the experience often is the product.

By demonstrating the value of the experience, the level of interactivity, and the power of the brand to connect directly with its target audience, you’re able to set up an organic buzz around your event which can make a huge difference when it comes to sales.

There are many, many ways in which you can increase customer engagement as an events organiser or business owner of any sort. Let’s take a brief look at some of the key methods below:

Experiential Marketing

When it comes to contemporary methods of increasing customer engagement, experiential marketing is really the big one. This approach is all about allowing your customers to gain an ‘experience’ connected to your event, brand, or business, and allowing them to create a positive connection with you as a company.

One of the most efficient features of experiential marketing is the visual connection to the customer.

It's all about building loyalty and brand advocates through engaging and personalised live experiences. From immersive and multisensory installations to interactive product activations and gamification, the experience economy is exponential and a key marketing strategy in building brand fans.

Humanising Your Brand

Have you noticed how nowadays, so many brands (both big and small) are running blogs, interacting with customers via social media, or filling their Instagram accounts with non brand-related content? This is all part of the push to humanise companies, and make them more approachable, friendly, and accessible. The concept is that by writing regular blogs and inviting comments and feedback, or by posting photos and thoughts etc., brands are focusing on content with the primary purpose to entertain and inform. Brand messaging then conveys personality and adds value rather than the emphasis self-referencing and on sales.

Social Media Savvy

Social media is, as we are by now all surely aware, a crucial platform for customer engagement strategies. With extended video capabilities, fun filters and interactive capabilities that can often be sponsored with brand takeovers, social media channels offer a rich resource for brand storytelling. Audiences are more empowered than ever with surface devices and through social media, they are active participants in sharing and upscaling engagement.  

Social media can be disruptive and when managed well has the potential to go viral.  Here is a place where even huge brands can poke fun at one another, give cheeky replies to comments, and even set up challenges for their consumers which break through into the realm of the experiential marketing mentioned earlier. Omni-channel campaigns enhance the brand messaging, keeps the brand tone of voice consistent and offers incredible targeting capabilities through demographic data insights.


Understanding The Brand Experience

Both the physical and digital worlds are packed full of activities and interactions which could comfortably sit under the umbrella of the ‘brand experience’. These could range from all-out publicity stunts and experiential marketing events, to something as simple as a chat with a brand ambassador or customer service rep, or a couple of minutes spent flicking through your app.

In order to better understand brand experience in all its forms, let’s step back for a moment, and try to see it in light of what the brand experience delivers, rather than by the specific form it takes.

For example, if your brand experience is designed and conceived as a way of boosting awareness of what your brand offers or promises (which would account for the majority of brand experiences out there), then we can only claim a brand experience to be successful if the customer or potential client comes away from it with an understanding and enthusiasm for the capabilities of your brand.

Consumers are exposed to nearly 5,000 advertisements every day. Brands are all around us, yet a mere 11% of them are actually noticed and only 3% are likable. 82% of American audiences ignore online ads.

brand experience - customer engagement

source - Gembamarketing

Brand experiences work best when they are focused, purposeful, personalised, specific, and create the kind of interactions which offer real value and a lasting positive impression.

When effective, and managed with a deft hand and a clear understanding of what your customer base is looking for, brand experiences can be enormously positive. They establish connections, create a sense of belonging among your fans, followers, attendees, or customers, and form communities which people go on to recommend to others. You build a legion of brand fans!

Experiential Marketing to Increase Customer Engagement 

When it comes to the kinds of brand experiences which really make audiences sit up, take notice, and start spreading the news about your brand, experiential marketing takes some beating. This is the all-singing, all-dancing side of brand experiences and consumer engagement, and brands in recent years have really started to take it upon themselves to push the boat out when making their events, products, or services shine brightly and connect with customers.

Experiential marketing is disruptive, innovative, and constantly seeking out ways to amaze, shock, and get people talking. It’s about reaching out beyond your core followers to the general public, reclaiming real and digital spaces to use as marketing opportunities, and aiming to go viral both in the online sense, and via the age-old wonder of word-of-mouth promotion.

The Experiential Marketing Continuum chart clearly shows which advertisement channels are welcomed or desired and what methods smart marketers will use to engage consumers.

The best of these takes the concept of the ‘experience’ - something memorable, out-of-the-ordinary, and personalised with the aim of conveying authentic and resonating brand messages with phenomenal impact. The result? Social media catching alight with retweets, posts, blogs, and photos, and a level of engagement which traditional marketing efforts couldn’t dream of reaching.

We can split the world of experiential marketing into roughly two key categories; events, and ‘experiential activations’, both of which can be utilised to great effect by brands wishing to extend their reach, create a buzz, and connect with their audience in a deeper, more meaningful way. Let’s take a look at these two categories in a little more detail, and explore their differences and defining points.

Events 

Events can be defined as brand experiences which target quite specific or somewhat captive audiences. They tend to provide more prolonged experiences, which involve those who share common interests, professions, or other key criteria. Simple examples would include conferences, expos, or trade shows of some kind: in such events, the participants or event attendees are there in part because they want to explore a brand or service to a deeper level, or because they are looking for the opportunities offered by particular brands, or due to networking needs.

The vast majority of events will offer attendees the chance to get to know brands on a more intimate level, either through stands or presentations, or through interaction with brand ambassadors or spokespeople. The scope of possibility at such events is fairly vast; most conferences will allow brands plenty of flexibility in how they set up their stands or formulate their presentations, with innovation and customer engagement highly appreciated by events managers and organisers.

Experiential Activations 

Often at the more surprising, ephemeral, and inventive side of the scale, we find the curious realm of experiential activations. These tend to be one-off moments of deeply memorable customer interaction and engagement, and unlike events, are usually aimed at the general public, not least due to the fact that they most successfully take place in public spaces.

The Mummy VR Experience is a perfect example for an experiential activation. It was an opportunity to experience and see how they shot one of the most spectacular scenes of the movie and actually physically feel like you are there.

Experiential activations are increasingly popular with marketers and brand managers, due to the fact that they have a tendency to spread like wildfire across social media and lend themselves more to those shareable “FOMO” moments. By hosting stunts, pranks, activities, games, or live entertainment in public places, the brand has a fantastic opportunity to connect on a deep and positive level with both existing and potential customers.


Customer Engagement Through Experiential Marketing: The Key To Deeper Connections

As we’ve seen, there’s little doubt that customer engagement is by and away one of the most vital KPI’s when it comes to your marketing efforts and planning. By getting your customer base (and their extended networks) excited and anticipating your event, products, or services, you can harness a remarkable wealth of potential and create the kind of genuine buzz which really makes a massive difference. Whether you are a B2B or B2C brand – we are all consumers and creating brand experiences is a powerful way to engage meaningfully with your target audiences.

Here at MCI Experience, we constantly strive to stay on top of all the latest trends and movements in the industry, and love sharing our knowledge and expertise when it comes to experiential marketing and events. Want to find out more about what we do? We’d love to hear from you so don’t hesitate to get in touch!