Virtual and hybrid experiences will solidify their position as a necessary format that lives alongside real-world experiential marketing.
Its been a ride. We dont know a single person whos not been fundamentally changed by the world turning upside down and inside out. Whether that change has been literal and physical – moving countries, downsizing to simpler lives, embracing a sea change – or internal, less visible yet still just as profound – we cant help but look back at what a transformative time it’s been for us all.
While the pandemic continues to be a huge part of our lives, many of us have been able to reconnect with the parts of our lives that are most important, and leave things behind that no longer felt like they were right for us (the Great Resignation!).
We’ve leaned into the seismic shifts and transformation that this chapter was all about. And in the midst of constant flux, unexpected curveballs and moving goalposts, were very proud of the work that weve accomplished this year.
But instead of looking back, because we’re already all 2021 recapped-out, were going to pivot and use this dispatch to peer into our cultural crystal ball and share what we see coming next.
While COVID-19 looks like its going to stick around, like an unwanted after-party crasher, its impact in different markets across the globe is going to be felt, interpreted and navigated in different ways. Heres how New Moon team is seeing experiential activations evolving in the new year.
Jack Bedwani, CEO & Founder, New Moon
Virtual and hybrid experiences will solidify their position as a necessary format that lives alongside real-world experiential marketing. What is most exciting is how the Metaverse will begin to influence and improve virtual experiences. This is going to happen quickly and we fully expect it to be a turning point for our industry.
Were also excited about experiences in which brands and celebrities show up in unexpected cultural contexts and create something fresh. Artists like Marshmello performing in Fortnite, Jennifer Lopez creating an 8-bit video game, or an Alexa-powered voice-activated holiday window. These are all examples of brands and talent creating new and exciting experiences for their fans to engage with. We see this as the future of marketing.
Gaming platforms are going to continue to steal momentum from social media platforms. Thanks to the interconnectivity of online gaming, a gaming platform is by its very nature a social one.
One new social platform we are watching very closely is Poparazzi. Its very unique and inherently social because it allows users to populate the feed with photos of their friends and peers only. No selfies allowed. Its only 4 months old, has a valuation in the 100s of millions and already boasts 4MM uses on the West Coast of the US alone. We think that as the negative impacts of social media are becoming more understood, a platform that does away with the carefully curated perfect image and celebrates capturing real moments between friends is just what the culture has been waiting for.
Virtual experiences are definitely here to stay, and no doubt will be a huge part of 2022. But it’s not about the livestream anymore, it’s about the metaverse. We’ve seen inklings of it already and it’ll likely come to life in a much bigger way next year. While platforms like Roblox and Fortnite are already the sites of big shared virtual experiences, I’m eager to see what virtual experiences could look like when EA releases the first-ever multiplayer version of The Sims (The Sims 5).
From a Sydney perspective, with Australia having spent a good portion of 2021 in lockdown and having to relegate our time more to digital experiences, I think it’s fair to say that in 2022, real-world experiences will resonate more than ever.
Experiences will evolve to be more physical, real-world, and multisensory, where the virtual element will enhance it, rather than be the focus. So maybe its the opposite of evolution then? I think were going to take a step back and appreciate that virtual experiences are a peripheral accessory to our lives, not the main event. The black mirror will be put back in the pocket a bit more next year as we lift our chins and look around a bit more. 2022 could be the year we finally start listening to Ferris Buellers words of wisdom.
Gen Z cultural values will begin to permeate and then dominate mainstream culture. And Im not just talking about pop culture and social media trends. Gen Z is the first youth generation where their heroes are their peers. A 12-year-old’s hero is now more likely to be a TikToker than Lebron James.This means for the first time in history, young people are dominant creators of culture AND primary consumers of it. Previously, corporations and older generations created culture which was then distributed through cultural gatekeepers like the mainstream media. Now a politically progressive teenager can make a TikTok about racial inequality and send it to their 2.5 million followers at recess. For the first time in history, those with the influence to spark cultural change, and those with the manpower to fuel it, are both the youngest generation.
As we move into 2022, the shadow of COVID is still lurking over the events industry in Europe, especially in London. With the ambiguity of the status of another potential lockdown we think theres an opportunity for brands to provide smaller, more intimate brand experiences with less attendees, in turn giving those in attendance a less diluted and more focused brand experience. Were currently seeing this taking place across the city with more intimate product launches, exhibitions and PR activations.
The past two years have seen major shifts in the worlds of platforms and partnerships. The nature of influence has changed drastically, with audiences expecting increasing awareness and authenticity from the celebrities, influencers and brands they love.
The superfan creator will continue to be relevant next year. People who rise to prominence through a genuine love of the product or brand which they align themselves with. An example of quite an unlikely creator that operates in this sphere is Francis Bourgeois who has skyrocketed to fame in the last 4 months with partnerships with the likes of Thames. Audiences’ desire to connect with what they perceive to be real people will ensure that we see more of these types of individuals cutting through the noise.
On the subject of brand collabs, audiences are becoming savvier and less easily impressed by simple tagging exercises between brands. The days of mediocre brand partnerships on capsule collections are over, with this template being exhausted to death by the streetwear industry over the last twenty years. As we move into 2022 I expect more brand collaborations to center on a connection based on shared values as opposed to aesthetic sensibilities. These collaborations will center on a desire to leverage each brand’s market voice to raise awareness for social causes and the like.
One cultural current I think will break into the mainstream in a big way is the normalization of BDSM & Kink. Although some may argue that the BDSM and Kink scene is already somewhat mainstream, in line with an ongoing current of sex-positivity, I think the growing popularity of apps such as Feeld will continue to introduce this underground culture into the mainstream consciousness. We will also see this reflected in fashion; brands such as Richardson have always been at the intersection between sex and fashion, but I expect more brands to start including nods to Kink and BDSM in their collections.
NEW YORK / LONDON
As far as what types of creators will be most relevant in the new year, 2022 will be the year of Trans influence. From TV/film, fashion, politics, and music, Trans individuals will continue to lead cultural production in front of and behind the lens. Pay attention to folx like Arca, Kim Petras, and Tommy Dorfman who viewdisruption as second nature.
While 2020 was a year of major global upheaval (politically, socially, culturally), 2021 has been a year in which individuals and institutions have put into practice what they learned during the reckoning of 2020. These are some of the emerging movements and trends that we see crossing over into the mainstream in 2022.
The big takeaway? The only thing we can count on is continued cultural transformation.