Events Live Events Agency Leadership

All the world’s a stage: Next-gen live events are building the experience economy

By Kristina McCoobery, Chief executive officer



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February 1, 2024 | 8 min read

Invnt Group’s Kristina McCoobery argues that the near future of experiential marketing makes good on a long-held dream of a robust, immersive experience economy.

A backlit stage set up for a musical performance

Live events and experiential are leveling up in 2024, says Kristina McCoobery / Stefano Stacchini via Unsplash

The landscape of live events and experiential marketing is undergoing a transformative evolution, driven by the convergence of digital innovation, a revitalized emphasis on authentic human connection, and morphing, pandemic-influenced, consumer palettes.

At the heart of this revolution lies the concept of the ‘experience economy,’ a term coined by economists B Joseph Pine II and James H Gilmore in 1998. In traditional economies, the primary focus is on the exchange of goods and services. However, in the experience economy, the emphasis is on providing customers and audiences with memorable and engaging experiences that cultivate emotional connections and add value beyond the functional benefits of products or services.

Experiences are distinct economic offerings that challenge everything, becoming as valuable as physical goods or traditional services. The experiential realm stands at the forefront of modern business strategies, shaping how we conceive, produce, and deliver events, integrating key benchmarks of success including personalization, memorability, consumer engagement, immersion, and transformation.

To meet today’s ‘extremely online’ (and offline) audiences where they are, brands and organizations must open new creativity-driven storytelling portals, with multiple points of connectivity and novelty on the customer journey.

The hybrid matrix: Physical, digital, and technology converge

Hybrid events, combining in-person experiences with virtual engagement, are becoming the norm. The future of these events lies in their ability to offer distinct (yet complementary and rich) brand-aligned experiences for both live and online audiences.

Virtual components of events are no longer mere extensions of the physical experience; they are being designed as richly unique, standalone engagements that cater to the digital audience’s sensibilities and preferences. This dual approach allows for a broader reach and inclusivity, connecting people across geographies, time zones, and even metaverses. Expect to see more events where the virtual experience is as rich and engaging as the in-person one, leveraging technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) and custom-designed interactive platforms to create immersive experiences.

Originality as a partner (and disruptor)

For businesses, especially B2B companies, the challenge is to think creatively about innovating customer transformation opportunities at all possible touchpoints. This involves redefining the ‘jobs to be done’ through experiential strategies that offer unique value.

It’s about transcending traditional product or service offerings and delving into creating layered experiences that leave a lasting impact on the consumer. This could involve leveraging new technology, deeper personalization, and immersive storytelling to craft experiences that are not just engaging but also conducive to personal or professional growth.

‘Funflation’ goes global: experiential investments for self-development

The increasing investment in live events is a clear indicator of the robustness of the experience economy and the opportunities for next-generation storytelling and human connectivity.

Major artists like Taylor Swift, Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen, and others have become linchpins in this burgeoning economic phenomenon. Swift’s Eras Tour, projected to inject billions into the US economy, is more than a series of concerts; it's an economic marvel.

Similarly, Beyonce’s Renaissance Tour ($600m) and Bruce Springsteen’s most recent outing ($380m), demonstrate with their meteoric earnings the immense power of live events as economic drivers. This reflects the deeper ‘funflation’ trend: consumers' increased valuation of live experiences over material goods, paying a premium for convenience and spectacle.

It's not just about the musical performances or films; it’s about the irreplaceable experience of being part of something larger than oneself.

The experiential nucleus will forever be human

In a world where digital fatigue is real, and social isolation and loneliness rise globally, the desire for human connection is more pronounced than ever. Events and experiential marketing in 2024 will focus on creating meaningful interactions that resonate on a personal level.

This human-centric approach is not just about bringing people together physically; it’s about creating emotional and memorable experiences: tapping into nostalgia, collectivized cultural references, and more. Storytelling will be a key tool, turning events into narratives and communities that participants can connect with and become a part of.

The success of events will increasingly be measured by the depth of emotional engagement and the strength of the community they build, both on- and offline.

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In this new world, experiential marketing and live events will evolve into an era of unparalleled immersion, interconnectedness, and intelligence. People are not just seeking events; they’re craving extraordinary experiences that etch unforgettable memories. We can envision a future where the weaving of digital and physical realms into cohesive experiences, deeply rooted in the essence of human connection, becomes the hallmark of triumphant events.

The enterprises and organizations that wholeheartedly navigate these currents of change, pouring heart and vision into their event strategies, will be the architects of unforgettable experiences, fusing unchartered bonds with their audiences and communities. In this journey, they’re not merely hosting events; they’re sculpting their legacy, and leaving an indelible mark on the annals of time.

Events Live Events Agency Leadership

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INVNT®. The global live brand storytelling agency™.

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