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The Experience Economy & its COVID-19 Prognosis

02 Jul 2020 | Aanshika Bhatnagar, Brand Executive

Disclaimer: Excessive use of the word experience.

The start of a pandemic also insinuated taking the digital evolution to the next level in various industries. There have been cancellations, relocations, and postponement of events and launches but some have found a rather innovative path to take — exploring something I call the Digispace.

From live music festivals to online art gallery visits, brands and artists have found a way around this too. Believe me, I went to the 2-day DGTL Music Festival held in Amsterdam and accessible worldwide. The festival was made available online through its website with a full digitally immersive experience of the festival.

Not only did it have multiple live sets but also art installations, food court, and a merchandise store. Not to mention how super engaging and fun it was. Point being, there is so much scope for an end to end engagement and new ways are just coming up day by day. The Experience Economy is taking the digital form to suffice the human desire for connections.

Auction houses have halted live sales and have pivoted to online solutions. Sotheby’s has held 21 online sales since March 1 totalling into $40.1 million. Ironically, up to 50% of the bidders in these sales have been entirely new to the auction house. The art market has avoided the digispace long enough but interestingly is opening new avenues for it. I guess opposites do attract.

The Experience Economy was projected to become a $12 billion dollar industry by 2023. But, this was before the pandemic. What about the loss during the COVID-19 pandemic you ask? See, the economy favors the fast movers and the early adopters. Yes, there were economic casualties to the Experience Economy but the pandemic has halted the experiencing desires of humans quite to the extent that humans crave experiences more than ever. Let that sink in, my mom’s an event organizer and she’s still digesting the transformation. But when you speak to people, they’ll tell you what’s up, how they miss going out, doing things — simplest of things. The value creation around running errands, commuting, and physically shopping is changing in a way that makes people want to do it more than before.

Why don’t we get down to the apps which are all known very well to us these days:

  1. TikTok
  2. Google Meets
  3. Houseparty

 

If you look at the kinds of apps trending right now, most of them are virtual meet-up apps. Looks like absence does make the heart grow fonder. People cannot go on with their work, their life, their day to day activity without having the involvement of others. In one way or another, it needs to be done. These ‘involvements’ often translate into conferences, entertainment, public events, and so on. It’s like you can keep a dog in a cage only so long because when the gate opens, its gonna run. We aren’t designed to stay in but when we have to, it has repercussions.

The future of events surely is not going to be the same. (boo!) Not at least in the beginning. We are all in unchartered territory with a very hazy picture as to what the future will be. However, what is visible is stringent measures in public places, great hygiene measures, and controlled crowding of places. Restaurants, cafes, bars are bound to accommodate around just 50% of their occupancy with proper distancing in mind. I am looking forward to getting those drink orders quicker though, hopefully. Something called Hybrid events will come in, where a number of people may be present at a physical location, while the audience at large attends the event remotely. It’s a mix of live and virtual components. The message is clear: Adapt or die.

Call it the Experience Economy bubble, but the little things are going to be special to people, be it a grocery run or going to the barber for a haircut. It will take time, absolutely, for people to consider traveling or going for events but it will happen. The Experience Economy is set to bounce back, one way or another.

Thanks for coming to my virtual TED Talk.