Stuart Bradbury, managing director of Avantgarde London shares his insight into how the industry will revolutionise after Covid-19.


As a result of the current crisis, the brand experience industry has been one of the biggest affected. With event cancellations dating back to February, the circumstances have cancelled most plans for at least the rest of summer 2020.

Why don’t we reassess what we have to work with instead? It’s time we stepped out of our comfort zone and trialled event formats. It really is the push our industry has required.

The power of time

Event businesses are being given the opportunity of time and self-reflection. We can use it to look forward and transform the way we approach experiences.

Digital brand experiences have taken centre stage. It’s a chance to explore new experiences and new platforms, ones that may have been disregarded in the past.

However, as we are now having to ‘perform’ digitally there needs to be a smart translation from physical to digital experiences. We are no longer constrained by the physical world, so we have the chance to deliver events that represent a brand in an alternative way, in a way that would be impossible to do as a stand-alone event in a physical environment.

Thanks to digital advancements, we can now shift control, giving power to the attendees (whether they are in real life or virtually), via offering alternative ways to interact with the event.

Adapting for the future

Consumer behaviour is continuously adapting and people have got used to not interacting or being in large groups. We’re already witnessing people increasingly interact with online platforms, and consumers are getting used to much of their everyday lives being reliant on digital.

The experience industry will therefore need to monitor these behaviour changes in order to be ready to adapt when the time is right.

The entertainment industry quickly began experimenting and innovating with digital formats to produce events via the likes of interactive webinars and live streams. Alongside this, machines and humans will be forced to interact like never before as we move further into being a cashless society. Recent research shows that lockdown has led to 7.4 million people in the UK living an almost cashless life. So, what does this behaviour change mean for future events? And will it help deliver a safer and seamless activation?

We’ve also witnessed conscious efforts to improve sustainability since being in lockdown.

Meeting consumer expectation

During lockdown consumers have been spoilt with a multitude of free options to access content that will let them learn and grow, from webinars to panels and Q+As. But, there will have to come a point when this stops and charging for events becomes the norm again. To justify a cost, the experience on offer will have to be extraordinary enough to encourage people to invest in it.

We don’t want to forget it and the next steps need to be around how to include digital experiences within this, whilst also not disregarding the involvement of partners and sponsors. Perhaps this will mean looking at the subscription model as a way forward. 

Coming up next

We now have chance to craft technologies and intertwine storylines together to produce hybrid experiences. In order to succeed, a hybrid experience needs to include five key factors:  the content or experience on offer must be shareable, the experience must take the visitor on a journey via a story, where possible the experience should be live, make the event interactive to help encourage collaboration and even co-creation and measure your experiences.

Through engaging existing and potential future customers, brands have the chance to explore digital experiences like never before. These types of experiences will soon become part of physical offerings once we begin to return to some