Back to Insights

Experience grows up — intro to our 2020 trends

22 January 2020
Gillette toxic masculinity advert

Our Global Head of Strategy for Ford, Katie Streten, introduces you to the major trends shaping the world of experience in 2020.

Why does this form of marketing deliver such demonstrable impact? Experiential marketing is the most controllable branded space. Unless you run your own stores, it’s likely that your products are cheek-by-jowl with those of your competitors and that customer experience is largely out of your control. Not so with experiential. When you build your own experience, you control every parameter from carpet to conversation.

Experiential is also a channel in which consumers choose to engage. They choose to enter experiences rather than receive information passively and so they enter into a different relationship with the brand. Furthermore, people spend long periods of time at experiences - the average dwell time on autoshow stands built by Imagination is 40 minutes. On top of all this, one third of consumers have actually paid admission to attend a brand experience/event.

But with great power comes great responsibility

As the profile of branded experiences rises, so to do the demands on CMOs and agencies to play responsibly, measure effectively and deliver even better content that demonstrably moves the needle.

As the volume of experiential increases, consumer expectations increase too. Experiences need to provide value, and for consumers, engaging with a physical space is often a more meaningful way to align themselves with a brand than simply buying a product.

This year we are seeing how CMOs, brands and agencies are responding to the new landscape and we are exploring the new consumer expectations and brand opportunities that will be emerging in the next 12 months.

Experience trends graphs

The average dwell time on autoshow stands built by Imagination is 40 minutes


To help make sense of the longer-term societal and attitudinal trends that are impacting us, Imagination combines research with in-person observation to project four key trends that are impacting our world.

Evolving Identities

Old roles and identities are being challenged as tech allows individuals to share and connect with others who face similar issues or have similar viewpoints. Our understandings of ourselves and our relationships have empowered us to challenge stereotypes and the brands that leave us feeling threatened.

Why is it happening?

The web has informed and empowered us all, revealing both opportunities and oppression, and social media has allowed us to connect with each other in new ways. Gender roles, perceptions of age and adulthood, competence and the way we relate to each other are all opening up and as a result, we are redefining what it means to be “normal”. At the same time, there will be those who find changing attitudes challenging and worrying, brands need to tread carefully and choose communication wisely.

Click to read more about this trend.


The always-on social media landscape has created a hyper-awareness of events, news, and globally trending ideas. People want honesty in their lives, and a return to real.

Why is it happening?

With an overabundance of information, corruption in organisations and government, and highly curated social feeds — people are struggling to understand what’s real and what isn’t. This has created a sceptical society that seeks truth and honesty from organisations.

Click to read more about this trend.


Focusing on the planet and environment, people expect brands to physically act on the values they say they have and the causes they support.

Why is it happening?

Imagery of extreme weather and plastic washed ashore is becoming ever-present in people’s minds — thus changing their attitudes towards the environment. Moreover, social media is helping drive these ideas further.

Click to read more about this trend.

My simple perfect life

Without wanting to lose choices, consumers are seeking tools to simplify their life and get ‘the best for me’ and ‘have it my way’. Personalisation has become a must-have.

Why is it happening?

Personalisation and simplification are the norm, people’s lives are more hectic than ever and becoming increasingly time confined. Brands are expected to provide solutions for a time-sensitive world.

Click to read more about this trend.