The Experience Economy

A new report from Full Fat reveals that hospitality and fitness will be top of consumers’ list of experiences in 2022. Full Fat co-founder Megan Morass gives her views on what this means for brands in the sector…

Without: Full Fat’s The Future of the Experience Economy report shows that the most popular activity across every generation in 2022 will be going to restaurants. What type of brands do you think consumers will seek out?

Megan Morass: Depending on age groups, people are likely looking for different types of restaurant experiences. Generation Z are keen to discover new and innovative experiences. In fact, 78% have said they’re likely to ‘push boundaries’ when choosing a restaurant. So restaurants would be wise to consider the whole experience, offering opportunities to touch, smell and taste something new, take photos or videos and create a surprise and delight moment to keep consumers coming back for more. Changing the menu is not enough for this generation; they need to be entertained from entry to exit.

W/O: In terms of frequency, fitness is predicted to be the most popular activity in 2022 for all generations (with respondents planning to engage with it at least once a week). What kind of brands will be the winners here?

MM: The global home fitness market has had an annual growth rate of 40% from 2019 – 2020 according to a report from Research and Markets. Consumers have seen the benefits of fitness and self-care on their mental health and overall wellbeing, signposting a move from prescriptive healthcare to preventative. This interest in looking after your body and mind is cross generational and any brand that can add value to this will really win.

Brands that harness data for fitness efficiency and personal knowledge, such as Moody Month,  are tapping into behaviours of younger generations – Generation Z and Millennials see fitness and self-care as a part of everyday life, unafraid to use data tracking to upskill their fitness. Generation X are slightly more wary of recording data and are likely to approach fitness via more traditional means, i.e. regular gym and fitness classes.

Gyms and brands which are looking to engage Gen Z or Millennials need to be highly technical, integrating as many tracking opportunities as possible and adding further value to the consumer experience beyond providing a machine.

W/O: According to the report, people are less inclined to travel for experiences, seeing the benefits of keeping money in the local community. How would you advise brands to respond to this change in mindset?

MM: Consumers have had travel restrictions in place for nearly two years. There is a huge hunger to explore but also a new respect for local communities, retailers and events. Brands engaging with local communities will win their favour over global names. The importance of investing in communities is an essential element to a hospitality business. Given consumers are showing signs of rewarding local investment via patronage it is important for these hospitality brands to show their support for the community via produce, contractors, ethos and values. Bringing money into the local community and keeping it there has never been more important.

W/O: Over 50% of Generation X and Millennials will embrace micro and mini events (up to 1,000 people), while 78% of Generation Z are likely to push the boundaries when considering what events to attend in 2022. How should brands adapt to this?

MM: There is concern from Gen X and Millennials around the virality of the coronavirus at major events where thousands of people are in close proximity. We’ve found that, given the option, these generations are more likely to opt for attending a micro event vs a major event of 10,000 or more people. This could be temporary as the vaccine becomes more available. In the meantime, programming smaller, more intimate elements to major events gives consumers the opportunity to choose onsite whether they get involved in the large ‘performances’ or smaller breakout spaces.

W/O: Your report says that hybrid events will be tools for audience engagement, building anticipation and brand awareness – not an alternative to live experiences. How can brands achieve this balance?

MM: In The Room With (ITRW) is a perfect example of how technology can provide a hybrid experience for consumers, adding value to a live setting rather than replacing it. ITRW provides an experience which would otherwise be unavailable to the majority of consumers, but in a digital format making it completely accessible to all. Technology can take consumers to places they would otherwise never have had access to, whether that is to experience the product selection process from Michelin-starred restaurants to meeting Justin Bieber after a gig. The opportunities for the hospitality industry to offer an additional service or experience to consumers beyond live events can have no limits thanks to the advances in technology we’re seeing right now.

Without create brands that make a difference. If you’d like to discuss how your brand can connect with today’s consumers, get in touch on 02070999080 or [email protected]

This article first appeared in The Brief, a monthly email with conversations and provocation for leaders and founders of brands . Just sign up here to receive it directly to your inbox – and join the debate.