Learning from the best: Building a new landscape with integrated approaches
Lawrence Chia
Chairman, Pico Group

Will face-to-face communication decline as online elements such as the metaverse become a craze? Taking exhibitions as an example, according to a study commissioned by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, around 40% of interviewees preferred virtual experiences, while nearly 60% preferred hybrid ones. Evidently, audience expect more than solely online communication. How should brands react to gain customers and seize business opportunities?

Wise use of data can help brands tailor their marketing plans to a target audience. For example, customers at Amazon’s new ‘Amazon Style’ offline clothing shop can access a variety of online services via mobile app and digital touchscreens, receiving product information by scanning a QR code, or joining a virtual queue for a fitting room. The app predicts users’ favourite styles based on their fits and sizes, makes recommendations, and delivers their selected items straight to a fitting room. This personalised shopping experience has helped boost sales for Amazon.

At physical events, technologies like avatars can help blur the boundary between reality and virtuality and create an unforgettable experience. ABBA’s ‘Voyage’ show in May introduced ‘ABBAtars’, ultra-realistic digital 1970s versions of the group members. The ABBAtars not only provided fans with a fresh way to interact, but also help them relive their memories of ABBA in their prime.

When planning events, online and offline audiences should be treated equally. For instance, brands can provide online audiences an appealing experience by weaving gamification and social media into the programme. Recently, at the 47th United Architects of the Philippines National Convention, Pico helped ensure online participation in the event’s TikTok challenge, forums and games through a digital platform. The online audience also periodically appeared onscreen at the physical venue, enabling in-person attendees to interact with them. Ultimately every participant was fully engaged, regardless of the format.

The future of the events planning industry can be described in one word: ‘integrated’. As online and offline elements become inseparable, demand for single-format events is likely to tail off. Brands must think about what their audiences truly need and respond by creating engaging experiences.

The full insights article was originally published in Headline Finance on 13 July 2022 (in Chinese only).

Source: Headline Finance (web version), 13 July 2022