Consumer Experiential Marketing Rebounds from Record 26% Plunge in Pandemic-Stricken 2020 to Post 8% Growth in 2021 and Pacing for 11% Expansion in 2022

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Consumer experiential marketing grew 8% in 2021 to $67 billion, after a record 26% plunge in 2020, due to the deep impact of pandemic, according to a new PQ Media study.

PQ Media's Global Experiential Marketing Forecast 2022-2026

Going forward, US experiential marketing spend is on pace to rise 13.7% in 2022 to $35.65 billion, and PQ Media believes opportunities abound for those event marketers, sponsors, developers and back-end designers who capitalize on a more open playing field in America and other major markets.

Global consumer experiential marketing, including event sponsorships and live event marketing, grew 8.2% in 2021 to $67.63 billion, following an unprecedented 25.7% plunge in 2020, as the economic blowback from COVID-19 dealt a punishing blow to one of the most consistently growing media segments for two decades prior to the pandemic, according to a new research report by PQ Media.

Global experiential marketing is on pace to grow at an accelerated 11.1% to $75.16 billion in 2022 as one of the media industry’s largest segments continues to recover from the deep impact of the pandemic and the weight of emergency restrictions, such as business and home lockdowns and social distancing worldwide, according to PQ Media’s Global Experiential Marketing Forecast 2022-2026. Ultimately, the pandemic wrought massive damage on the consumer event sector – more than any other media industry segment – in such a brief period that it was unparalleled in the history of advertising and marketing.

Despite the global pandemic upending the consumer event markets in 2020, secular trends driving brand marketer investments in experiential marketing for decades are expected to accelerate in the years ahead, as branded entertainment and marketing have increasingly become more important components of successful cross-channel marketing campaigns.

This year’s edition of the Forecast includes the most detailed data breakouts and analysis by the two major experiential marketing channels – consumer event sponsorships and live event marketing – and within those two major channels the first deep-dive data on 11 key experiential marketing categories, including within the consumer event sponsorship channel: sports; entertainment, tours & attractions; causes; arts; festivals, fairs & other events; and associations. covered in the live events channel are: sports & entertainment; virtual events & mobile road shows; grass roots; college campuses; and mall & nightlife.

Consumer event sponsorships was the larger of the two major channels at $35.82 billion in 2021, with sports being the largest category at $23.63 billion, a 66% market share. Live consumer events was the faster growing overall channel, up 9.5%, with sports & entertainment being the largest category at $11.56 billion, a 36.3% market share.

Among the hardest hit consumer event markets in 2020 was the US, the world’s largest market, where no experiential segment was spared the deep impact of COVID-19. However, US experiential marketing spend grew 12% in 2021 to $31.36 billion, with event sponsorships being the largest channel at $16.08 billion and while sports the largest category at $11.40 billion, a 70.9% market share. Meanwhile, live events was the faster growing overall experiential channel, up 13.5%, with sports & entertainment its largest category at $5.15 billion, a 33.7% share, according to the Global Experiential Marketing Forecast 2022-2026

Going forward, US experiential marketing spend is on pace to rise 13.7% in 2022 to $35.65 billion, as it continues to rebound and PQ Media believes opportunities abound for those event marketers, sponsors, developers and back-end designers who capitalize on a more open playing field in America and other major markets, due to key competitors either having been weakened or forced to shutter business entirely.

“Experiential marketing has steadily become more important to brands over the past decade because live experiences, such as major music festivals and global sporting events, provide excellent opportunities to engage more elusive and fickle younger demographics. We expect to see more brands using advanced smart tech marketing, tracking, and analysis going forward to create interactive experiences that bridge the physical, digital and virtual worlds,” said PQ Media CEO Patrick Quinn. “Several instances of these evolving tactics emerged in the past two years, including music events that went virtual through online videogame platforms, such as Roblox and Fortnite; NASCAR races that took place in e-sports leagues; hybrid media experiences at the Beijing Winter Olympics; and the return of lucrative political fundraising events.”

Going forward, PQ Media’s research indicates the emerging trend of hybrid events, which integrate in-person, digital and virtual elements, will gain strength in consumer experiential marketing, although there are certain brand verticals that are embracing these strategies more than others, particularly media, entertainment, sports and telecommunications.

Among the key trends driving growth in consumer event sponsorships in 2022 included many sports leagues signing record sponsorship deals, such as the NFL’s $1.8 billion investments, up 12 %. And with more consistency in pandemic mandates, attendance at music and tourist events surged in 2022. In addition, sponsored arts events offering “immersion” experiences became vogue in 2022 after the popularity of the Van Gogh tour, while sponsored hybrid events have become the norm, such as the Consumer Electronics Show, where 25% of the audience was online.

Fueling upside in live event marketing were sports & entertainment events, which saw consumers yearning to get back to attending sports & entertainment shows after nearly two years of little activity. For example, last weekend’s New York Comic Con drew over 200,000 visitors, compared to only 150,000 in 2021. Virtual events also remain popular, as many consumers are working from home and pop-up mobile road shows are hot, while mall & nightlife events saw traffic soar in 2022.

Despite the mounting surge of investment, demand and opportunity to garner former competitor’s event real estate, PQ Media doesn’t expect the consumer experiential marketing sector to reach the pre-pandemic peak spending levels of 2019 ($84.06 billion) until, at least, the end of 2024 ($89.95 billion).

About the Report:

PQ Media’s 9th biennial Global Experiential Marketing Forecast 2022-2026 is part of our overall Global Branded Entertainment Marketing Series, which also includes the Global Product Placement Forecast 2022-2026, which broke new ground and have been published worldwide since 2005. This new edition covers the aforementioned 2 major consumer experiential marketing channels and the 11 key experiential marketing categories. Site licenses to the new Global Experiential Marketing Forecast 2022-2026 include both a PDF Report, delivering 281 slides of datagraphs and analysis covering every country, channel and category, as well as in-depth profiles of the top 20 global markets; and a comprehensive Excel Databook, providing over 100 spreadsheet tabs with 100,000 datapoints covering every major market, channel and category worldwide for the entire 2016-2026 period. Click the report link above to download a free executive summary, table of contents and sample datasets from the new report.

About PQ Media:

PQ Media delivers strategic intelligence, data and analysis to the world’s leading media and technology organizations through annual media forecast reports, custom drill-down research and on-demand strategic consulting. PQ Media uses a proprietary econometric methodology to define, segment, size, analyze and project the growth of several hundred traditional, digital, and alternative media by country, platform, channel and demographic, and publishes the annual three-report Global Media Forecast Series2022-2006.

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Patrick Quinn
PQ Media
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