2020 Experiential Marketing Trends


The year is 2010. Apple has just released the iPad, Justin Bieber is at the top of the music charts, and “Glee” is the hit T.V. show of the year. Like the ubiquitous ad campaign says, whatever you’re trying to do, there’s an app for that.

Ten years later, the marketing world has thoroughly infiltrated the digital sphere, putting everything online and at our fingertips. It’s in this web-based age that consumers crave experience more than ever.

Boxman Studios has been in the business of helping brands bring their products to life through experiences since 2008. In the past decade, we’ve seen the definition of “experiential marketing” take on a multitude of meanings. As storefronts close and e-commerce sites become household names, there’s still a hunger to see, to feel, and to engage with a product before buying.

If we can expect anything of the 2020s, it’s that the definition of experiential marketing will continue to evolve. Brands will look to new ways to engage a digital-oriented consumer and offer a memorable experience to them both online and through physical activations. These are the trends that we think will define experiential marketing in the new decade.

Pop-Up Shops

There’s a particular risk in ordering online. As consumers look to make financially significant transactions on the web (mattresses, appliances, cars), pop-up stores offer a way for e-commerce companies to let consumers try before they buy — ultimately offering peace of mind.

In 2020, expect to see more online retailers invest in building a temporary street presence, often in test markets. Pop-up shops mitigate the risk of a traditional brick-and-mortar store by offering the flexibility of location, enabling brands to bring their structure to markets where it will be most successful.

The temporary nature of a pop-up offers an additional benefit of exclusivity and general buzz around the opening along with a sense of urgency for interested customers to visit. If executed well, expect to see a pop-up store on social media long before it makes it to your city.

Instagrammable Moments

We predict that brands will approach activations as a way to create memorable experiences for customers. The focus will be on the aesthetics of the space and the ability for content creation through art installations and instagrammable moments. These custom spaces will fit into larger content plans for brands, aligning with a social media strategy to expand the reach of the shop far beyond its physical location.

Look at activations like the Museum of Icecream and The Happy Place, for examples of how social media can fuel brand experiences. These elaborate photo-ops garner large crowds and consistently sell out tickets with the simple offering of the perfect in-feed photo.

Social Advocacy

In the new decade, consumers will look for brands that align with their core values and dedicate resources to causes they believe in. Brands will expand their activation plans and seek to grow relationships with their customers and align with advocacy efforts for purposes close to their audience.

Expect growth in commitment to sustainable practices and social causes that will tie into brand experiences at festivals, shows, and events. Consumers have come to expect authenticity and social responsibility from the brands they support and are looking to the brands they align with to take a stand. Google and Warby Parker have already placed value in social-based initiatives and used marketing activations to deploy their efforts.

High-Tech Spaces

Virtual reality (VR) technology can transport someone to just about anywhere, and this new tech will find a home in brand activations. We’ll see brands take their customers to digital spaces that allow customers to see and experience a product in a unique sensory experience.

Brands with a strictly online presence will be able to create full stores and shopping experiences for their customers through V.R. headsets redefining the digital shopping experience. We see modular spaces as the perfect host for this tech, with fully customizable interiors that can house virtual reality technology and take it to markets across the country.