Brand Experiences: Trends & Predictions for 2022

What’s next for the brand experience and events

While nobody is certain exactly what form the future will take, it’s possible to get a glimpse by examining the trends.

In our latest market barometer report, we’ve collected the latest data and insights to help you understand issues and trends that are shaping the future of the industry, so you can adapt your strategies and succeed in a complex, competitive landscape.


A range of complex and interconnected factors are driving a radical reimagining of the way brand experiences work. The rise of digital, which has long been a consideration for the industry, has been rapidly accelerated. Now, for example, all prospective attendees are familiar with – and may even be fatigued with – virtual events. Meanwhile, businesses need to develop a brand experience strategy that caters to a broader set of preferences and formats than ever before, in addition to considering factors that matter to prospective attendees.

FIRST Agency female marketer on stage pointing

As may be expected during a genuine paradigm shift, there is no single challenge that rises above the others – everything is changing significantly and simultaneously.

In our survey of marketing decision-makers, no more than one in five respondents agreed on the largest single challenge.

Some of the most common answers: 

– 18% not having the right team
– 15% limited customer engagement with online events

lit macbook laptop display


There is no single “right answer.” Organizations need to consider the goals of their brand experience strategy, their audience’s preferences, and what suits their brand – along with a host of other considerations. What elements of the brand’s messaging can live purely in content and the virtual world? What elements require in-person touchpoints? Is the audience homogenous or are there different segments within it with unique preferences? How are competitors handling brand experiences?


Considering the reasoning behind brand experiences will play a role when planning the appropriate format. Rather than deciding, for example, that 2,000 attendees is a good target for an in-person event, businesses should consider why they’re holding an in-person event at all. Are prospective attendees happy to travel? If in-person is the correct format, who are the right people to reach? What might attendees hope to gain from a brand experience of this type?

People setting up an event stage

Going forward, organizations must make community a cornerstone of their brand experiences. In the virtual space, this is an ongoing area of development, and the first businesses to identify creative solutions will reap the benefits. There is immense potential for organizers to create micro communities and offer attendee-to-attendee recommendations for virtual networking sessions based on characteristics from the data.

In-person brand experiences, meanwhile, also offer opportunities for creativity as organizations determine ways to make their experiences more conversational, interactive, and immersive – all while embracing and adhering to safety protocols.


While the conventional conception of events was that they were singular, self-contained units, today’s understanding is that each brand experience is just one step in the larger evolution of a community. In line with this, organizations are planning for a longer engagement cycle and creating a variety of touchpoints over time to provide people with the option to engage in a way that suits them.


Data enables teams to justify spending, optimize the customer experience across every touch point, and make their offering more personal. By analyzing everything from weather to footfall, click-throughs, and engagement in chat, among countless other variables, data analysis can identify issues and opportunities, boost engagement, and inform future planning. Data analysis will undoubtedly be one of the keys to successfully delivering digital and hybrid brand experiences.

data on a screen

Making the most of technology – In today’s competitive environment, there’s little room for clunky, unintuitive interactions. This is especially true for organizations attempting to develop their own solutions to compete with those offered by major online platforms designed to convene people remotely, such as Zoom, which, while far from perfect themselves, are at least familiar to attendees.

In an extremely competitive information space, personalization offers a relatively straightforward way to make a meaningful connection. Marketing interactions that feel more personal are more likely to stand out, earn a user’s click, and get their engagement. Leveraging data to personalize interactions will be welcomed, while generic repeat emails will have attendees rushing to click “unsubscribe.”

person wearing vr headset


Almost one in five senior decision-makers we interviewed reported that building the right team was their single biggest issue. This is especially significant as in-person and digital brand experiences require distinct skills, and those that seek to adopt a hybrid strategy will need people with experience in both areas.

event technician


– An overwhelming 90 percent plan to outsource some or all of their brand experience function to an agency or freelancers or use an embedded agency-within model.

– Some 78 percent have already outsourced more of their experiential portfolio and functions over the past year.

– 37 percent are planning to make members of their existing staff redundant.

event production


Increasingly, organizations are adjusting their marketing spend and balance of content. Whereas in the pre-pandemic period, audiences were typically satisfied with expert talks from the stage and an opportunity to mingle with others, engaging audiences today – especially online – requires greater clarity of purpose.

Generally, brands are now investing in content strategy up front, followed by execution, then data and analytics. Brand experiences shouldn’t be seen as one-off events, but as part of a larger strategy that integrates thought leadership and social media, among other forms of content.


An organization’s ability to get digital and tech right is the determining factor for success in the years ahead. Centering technology requires a shift in mindset, and will require changes to recruitment, delivery, budgets, and more. However, those arguing that “the future is digital brand experiences” or, conversely, that it’s time to return to “business as usual” with in-person experiences are mistaken.

To stay ahead of the trends, consider turning to an experienced partner like FIRST.
Whether your organization is part of the 89% considering a scalable in-housing model or simply looking for outside consulting when it comes to your brand’s events and experiences, we can bring our experience and specialists to help you achieve your goals.


Download the full report and get access to more detailed data and insights on what’s really coming up in the brand experience industry.

Get in touch to learn more about how FIRST can help you deliver industry-leading creative and engaging live, virtual, and hybrid brand experiences.