From the metaverse to AR, what’s next for marketing and digital in 2022?

Let’s not beat around the bush, 2021 has been another strange year, but we saw the return of large-scale events and club nights and lots of fantastic creativity displayed across marketing and PR campaigns. From the Guinness’ ‘Welcome back’ campaign when lockdown ended to Aldi’s Cuthbert vs Colin war to endless brilliant meme content, it’s been a smasher of a year with lots of exciting tech developments. 

So what will 2022 bring?

Here are five marketing and PR trends we expect to lead the way over the next 12 months.

Augmented Reality

From creating profound emotional impact with audiences to tracking consumer behaviour, experimenting with AR in 2022 is a great way to take your marketing strategy to the next level.

Some brilliant examples born from the pandemic were the John Lewis‘ virtual sofa AR feature that allowed customers to see the furniture in their living rooms before purchasing and the ASOS ‘See My Fit’ AR feature that enhances the customer experience by showing shoppers how products realistically look in different sizes and on different body types. In turn, this experience has helped to drive sales and reduce returns, with the digital innovation contributing to a 24 % sales uplift.

Nobody thought we’d see the humble QR code resurrected to the level it has been. But, thanks to the pandemic, the hospitality sector was initially forced to embrace the ugly little square to serve socially distanced customers. The technology is still being utilised to its full potential and doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere– allowing frictionless service and crowd control at busy bars. 

AR is an excellent opportunity for brands to tell their stories and create deeper connections with their customers and there are increasing chances not just for PR campaigns but with trade and consumer advertising. 

For example – Rolex enhanced its print ads with a creative virtual try-on experience. Readers could virtually try on the new models and scroll through style options from the comfort of their own homes. 

We expect to see more creative uses of this technology across all sectors in 2022. 

The Metaverse and NFT’S 

According to the artist previously known as Facebook, the future is Meta. 

Very simply put, the metaverse is a virtual world where we can experience products and services online. Users create avatars with their own identities that navigate through otherworldly digital realms experiencing all sorts of quite frankly crazy stuff. 

This year, Meta has invested $10 billion into virtual reality technology, including a robotic hand, high-tech VR glasses, and some more high-tech software applications.

So, what are NFT’s, and how do they fit into this? NFT stands for Non-Fungible Token, and essentially, they are digital assets that can be traded in return for cash or other NFT’s and used within the metaverse. With society spending more time than ever online, digital possessions have grown in popularity in 2021, and many big brands (and smaller ones) have jumped on the trend, with everyone from Gucci to Warrington Wolves creating their own. 

Our client, bespoke NFT studio Ape Squared, recently launched a range of over 3,000 NFT’s called Space Bugs that sold out in 6 hours, with some of the rarer bugs gaining over 7,000 % in value! If you can get your head around the tech side, NFT’s are definitely worth considering as a valid investment opportunity. 

The metaverse has grown exponentially because of the pandemic, giving people the opportunity for escapism, staying social (albeit online), and taking part in experiences safely while instore real-life experiences are limited. With people continuing to spend more time at home into 2022, now is the time for brands to harness the opportunities that the metaverse brings by creating immersive, virtual experiences and advertising and removing the barriers of geographic marketing. 

One of our favourite examples is from premium skincare brand SK-II. Inspired by the streets of Tokyo, the SK-II CITY transports visitors to the middle of a bustling urban intersection with all the sights, sounds, and sense of discovery of Shibuya Crossing. Visitors can see Japanese Icons like Mount Fuji and Tokyo Tower and enjoy branded experiences found only in SK-II CITY.

Make Sure You Stand For Something

70% of consumers want to invest their money in brands that have an opinion and that stand for important social and political issues in some way – and this figure has increased by 66% since 2017.

Companies that don’t stand clear on their views on diversity, inclusion, and serious world issues risk being overlooked by their more vocal competitors. So even if it feels risky to stand up and get loud, your customers are only going to thank you for it.

For example, Nike’s response to the Black Lives Matter movement showed consumers the brand’s humanness. The company made an urgent call for both consumers and companies to stand together in the fight against racism and used its huge platform as a weapon for good. 

With ‘B-Corp’ becoming another buzzword in 2021, brands must be authentic in their values and mission when it comes to purpose. There’s nothing worse and more evident than companies that try and greenwash or are disingenuous in their views on equality in the workplace. Brands must proactively act to be better every day for issues they genuinely care about, whether climate change, equality, or mental health. 

The Rise of Influencers 

During the last 18 months, especially when we were in lockdown, influencers were vital for brands in connecting to customers. Influencers kept us entertained or provided motivational content and added an essential lifeline for brands unable to reach us in other ways. 

From nano to mega, influencers create a bond of trust and authenticity that allows brands to reach out to their niche audiences, which is exactly why influencer marketing has grown so much over a short period of time. 

But where will it take us in 2022?

Whereas most brands have previously worked with influencers for one-off campaigns or sporadic boosts during the year – many will build on the trust developed during the pandemic and establish ongoing working relationships as a new approach to influencer marketing campaigns. Having a constant presence through trusted, third-party pages is incredibly impactful – both for building trust and driving sales.

We also predict cross-over campaigns being a vital part of strategies. In 2012, the average number of social platforms people used was two – this has now increased to 8 – making cross-channel campaigns a non-negotiable for consumer brands. 

That being said – it’s essential to understand that each platform responds to content in different ways, and recycling the same content across each platform would be a mistake. 

Need help navigating influencer campaigns across multiple platforms? This is where an integrated marketing and PR agency can help you get your ducks in a row.  Give us a shout on 0161 706 0534.

Hybrid Events

Over the last 18 months, virtual events are something every business has had to embrace, and many brands have been shocked at just how much impact a virtual event could have with a bit of creativity. 

New research from LinkedIn, based on interviews with more than 1,800 marketers with responsibility for events across 13 different countries, revealed that a third said 90% of their events will now remain virtual into 2022. 

Airbnb is an incredible example of the success of virtual events. A brand that relies on people travelling STILL managed to make a huge splash and create high levels of engagement during the pandemic by organising global events led by Airbnb hosts from all over the world.

Experiences included meditation with Buddhist monks, virtual visits with the dogs of Chernobyl, and family cooking in Morocco, and guests were also able to connect with athletes, including Olympic medallists Alistair Brownlee and Lauren Gibbs. Footage of people from different cultures coming together to laugh, sing and share their stories was incredibly heart-warming. It reminded those stuck at home that connection is possible even during our most isolating times. 

In 2022 we expect more businesses to incorporate digital events into their strategies. 

2022 here we come…

So there we have it! Five of the big trends to keep in mind for next year. 

Are you looking to make 2022 a turning point for your business? Or perhaps need some expert support launching a new product or campaign? 

Purple Riot is a multi-award-winning marketing and PR agency. We work with a mix of exciting sectors, including hospitality, retail, leisure, and now NFT’s! 

Call us on 0161 706 0534 to discover how we can help you or drop us an email here.  

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