The experiential industry provides emotional support to consumers in need

Alice Woods, UK Creative Strategist at Momentum Worldwide on the transformation of the experience industry from practicality to positivity.

Alice Woods, Momentum Worldwide

UK Creative Strategist


A somewhat naive three months into the pandemic, back in May 2020, Beneden Health reported that up to 23 million Britons were struggling to maintain their mental wellbeing. Now almost 10 months deep, we’ve endured 300 days of daily death-tolls, rising unemployment and industries on the brink of collapse. The sad irony of the entertainment industry’s demise at a time when we need those events most has not been lost on anyone.

For many, the escape of an afternoon spent in the theatre, the thrill of live music or the inner-city utopia of an art gallery are crucial for de-stressing. But unfortunately, it appears that these are the very places that the virus seems to frequent. Alas, we are a nation that has been starved of culture, deprived of interaction and robbed of those can’t-quite-put-your-finger-on-it magical immersive moments. With 83% of people globally believing that experiences are a fundamental piece of who we are, it’s no wonder that their absence has left us bereft.

Consumers have high personal, emotional demands from the experiences they choose to attend

Alice Woods

From practicality back to positivity

But just like energy, those magical moments cannot be destroyed, only transformed. And if there’s one industry that can adapt and innovate it’s this one. Miraculously throughout lockdown and the proverbial snakes and laddered tiers system, we saw reems of new content being created by our favourite bands, theatre companies, artists and brands. Experiences moved to virtual, attempting to somehow plug the gaping hole in our lives.

These performances and shared online moments were welcomed, but there was also a shift in consumer focus to pragmatism and practicality. In April, consumers were heavily focused on wanting brands to directly react to COVID-19, with 85% believing brands should donate time, money or materials to help. Now, a study by Momentum Worldwide has shown that the focus has shifted again, and consumers have high personal, emotional demands from the experiences they choose to attend; 82% of UK consumers are seeking support of their mental wellbeing and 85% are looking for comedic relief. Consumers are starting to once again expect more than just practicality.

This renewed optimism and expectation has been bolstered by, if not directly attributed to, the announcement of the vaccine. Since the good news, the desire to attend live events and experiences in groups of people more than 20 has grown by a staggering 76%, according to the same study. Even in the darkest hour, it’s been suggested that our return to nightclubs could not only be sooner than we thought but actually part of the solution. The #SaveNightclubs campaign has put forward the idea that the multi-room venues and huge refrigerators could be the perfect environment to actually administer the all-important vaccine. 

Act II: The Revenge

McKinsey reports that as consumer confidence returns, rampant spending will follow suit, going so far to say that consumers will be ‘revenge shopping’ to make up for lost time. They note however, that a crucial difference in this economic downturn compared to any previous, is that services have been hit particularly hard. Meaning that the ‘revenge’ will be all the sweeter for those businesses with a communal element, seeing consumers double-down on entertainment venues and similar.

And with increased investment, comes increased demand. Beaten down by the bombardment of bad news and frazzled from the eroded work-life balance, consumers will demand more of experiences as we tentatively step forward. As humans, our emotions have been pushed to their absolute limits and many of us are running on empty. The fulfilment that we get from the experiential and events sector is set to be one of the most precious commodities for 2021 and beyond as experiences slowly return.

2021, and beyond, may be the year that technology moves away from the role of entertainer and momentarily back into the role of simply protector.

Alice Woods

Technology is what saved us, but it won’t be our saviour

Without the swift actions of brands and the feverish rate of technological innovation, it’s safe to say that the events industry would have been all but decimated by ‘stay-at-home’ orders. From entertainment to business, technology enabled some life to go on for those in the events and entertainment sectors. Dua Lipa’s Studio 2054 sold over 250,000 tickets and garnered a record-breaking five million views. Whereas Microsoft quickly flexed early in the pandemic to move their entire programme of events to digital-first experiences, reaching millions of businesspeople across the globe.

At home, consumers flocked to Animal Crossing, amassing seven million downloads in April, an escape to travel and gather with friends, albeit virtually. It’s clear that we’re ready to live in a blended world, embracing both virtual and physical universes, opening up more opportunities than ever before for brands and producers to create engaging moments.

Lockdown has proved that technology can feed our desires for knowledge and entertainment, however it’s emotion and touch that we truly crave. 2021, and beyond, may be the year that technology moves away from the role of entertainer and momentarily back into the role of simply protector. Offering the means required for physical events, technology will be the gatekeeper and the guardian, allowing events to take place, but it’s up to brands and producers to provide the humanity that we all yearn for.

Guest Author

Alice Woods, Momentum Worldwide

UK Creative Strategist,


UK Creative Strategist, Alice, has extensive experience across a wide range of sectors. From FMCG, tourism, property & place, tech, arts & culture, to healthcare, she is able to tap into this breadth of knowledge and offer robust and diverse insights for clients such as Microsoft, SAP, CPW, Purina, L’Oréal and GSK. An analytical thinker with a flair for ideas, Alice always brings fresh thinking to every client and campaign and was named Momentum UK's Star Player in the 2020 Campaign Agency School Report. Before joining Momentum, Alice worked at a number of independent agencies building brands and campaigns for a spectrum of clients as well as helping to launch numerous start-up brands across technology, housing and fashion. Out of office, Alice is active in the UK music industry, DJing and curating a number of regular club nights and events including a club night for adults with learning disabilities. Alice has also moderated and speaks regularly on industry panels, having featured on Radio 1, BBC Introducing Live, Ibiza International Music Summit and numerous festivals across the UK.