New Experiential Marketing Trends Report Shows Increased Desire for Authenticity and Human-to-Human Experiences

July 14, 2020

Digitalization has been a boon for event marketers, providing new ways to automate processes, get work done from anywhere in the world, and gather more data to power better customer experiences. But there is also a negative: while attendees may want to focus on your content, there are so many digital distractions that it can be close to impossible for them to succeed. As a result, the desire for more human-to-human experiences at events is on the rise, according to Agency EA’s new 2020 Experiential Marketing Trends Report.  

Anecdotal estimates put the average per-person conference attendee device count at 2.5. It’s common to find participants carrying a smartphone (or sometimes two), a tablet and a laptop as well. As the EA report points out, every time an attendee checks their phone, you’ve lost their attention. And as it takes an average of nearly 26 minutes for people to regain their focus after being distracted, that adds up to a lot of lost time.

This is causing both a backlash against Instagram and other social media channels and a desire to provide people with a place to unplug and disconnect. EA found that “brands are building strictly analog spaces that help keep attendees present and give the brand more control over each attendee’s experience.” This also ties to the top trend shown in the report: creating events within events — akin to the rise of niche events that we recently covered.Virtual Exhibit

This attendee experience increasingly includes networking opportunities. 73 percent of brand-side marketers reported that their companies value creating human-to-human experiences at events. This includes finding ways to provide more authenticity in sessions (forget the canned keynote speeches) and more meaningful social networking.

In fact, EA included networking in its “anti-trend” section, which describes key elements of successful events that will never go out of fashion. Sustainability is also included in this section, with 85 percent of event marketers reporting that it has become a must for their events (although brands also report struggling to find the funds to support sustainability initiatives).

Key statistics:

  • 1 in 4 brand marketers rated personalized experiences as the top tactic leveraged for audience engagement at events/experiential activation's.
  • 87% of brand-side marketers invest in experiential to effectively connect with their target audience, a 30% increase from 2018.
  • 83% invest in experiential to generate traffic/lead generation.
  • Nearly 20% of brand-side respondents said they spent more than a quarter of their marketing budget on experiential.
  • 73% of brand-side marketers say that their brand values providing human-to-human experiences at events.
  • 72% of brand-side marketers are looking to incorporate events within events (e.g. VIP sessions, exclusive evening events) in 2020.

EA officials say that in previous years, experiential innovation has been primarily driven by B2C marketers and slowly trickled into B2B events. This year, the innovations have reached parity, with B2C drawing from B2B as well as vice versa.  

In addition to trends and statistics, the report also includes brand case studies that illustrate some of the top trends.

Guest Blogger:  Danalynne Wheeler Menegus is the managing editor of Corporate Event News. She is also a freelance writer, editor, and marketing consultant with 25 years of experience in B2B marketing. Danalynne has held senior event marketing, corporate marketing, and product marketing roles at corporations including Dell, Sybase, and IONA Technologies.  Contact Danalynne at

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