How context is impacting your event

Lara Owen Reporter, C&IT
How context is impacting your event

Event leaders from Charlotte Tilbury, M&G Investments and Ipsos discuss how context is impacting your event and what to do about it at Strata’s insights event.

Strata’s recent event held at The Ned in London looked at future trends influencing audience engagement as part of their ‘Making Moments Matter’ series. We heard from leaders of the industry who discussed how context will impact your 2024 events.

Greg Clayton, Markets, Brands and Shoppers lead at Ipsos in the UK, began by contextualising the climate we’re heading into, “The world is changing faster than it ever has before. In 2023, we have AI, Inflation, covid, gig economy, supply chain, ecommerce and delivery, remote working, climate change, war and so on.” 

There are two types of context: macro context (inflation, cultural norms, social - everything that exists outside of our direct control) and micro context (the occasions in which people are choosing brands).

“Your kids might be in your ear begging you to buy a chocolate bar that you otherwise would not have bought. They’re influencing your thought process at the point of decision.” Greg stated, “This can also be extended to the weather, occasion, people they’re with.”

These are what are known as ‘demand spaces’: the context in action. If we’re looking at B2B decision making it can be convoluted, but if we understand the agenda of the business on the micro level that changes. How are they currently doing in the stock market, has the person we’re speaking to just been promoted? Is there a new CMO driving a key agenda? All these micro contextual questions will affect their decision making the moment you’re talking to them and can tailor what you say to them. 

Greg’s key takeaway therefore is that research is key. Understanding deep down who is making the decision around your service - what’s the use case they’ll put it into once purchased - putting into context your pitch is vital.

People’s values within the economic and political climate is a vital factor too, “From 2013-2021 there was a consistent increase in people buying brands that reflect their personal values. That figure has dropped considerably in 2023.” Greg noted, “People are much more focused on the immediacy now - because of this wider political and economical ripple on people’s lives.”

“For 2024: Brand values are losing out to value brands. Planners need to think about how you’re communicating quality and joy into people’s lives as opposed to grand highfalutin programmes that people will feel pretty detached from at the moment.” Greg’s initial takeaway was to get back to basics and don’t patronise your audience. 

Jen Bonassera, Global Director of Events at Charlotte Tilbury, noted this shift in consumer behaviour, “The shift in brand purpose and value is something we’ve definitely seen. Despite people wanting value brands, I want to retain that sense of storytelling - brand value - and what we stand for. 

“What I’m careful to protect in any event I’m planning in the next year is brand storytelling, because that has a halo effect into the direct commercial selling space. We have high expectations around press and influencers, the pressure to do new trips and events is high, but it will be interesting to interrogate some data on what actually converts into sales drivers. 

“Brand values assist with that shift of audience behaviour and not being tone deaf to what’s going on around us. We can’t replicate events all around the globe - we have to tailor them to geography, background and the context of the world.”

Fiona Macnish, Head of Global Events at M&G Investments, stated, “This point around local vs. global is important, particularly within the B2B space. I think in the pandemic people thought ‘let’s just do it once and push it to everyone’ that maybe worked for a short time at the beginning of covid, but now in such a saturated market and where empathy is so important, to try and do something globally that won’t be as relevant on a local level is less likely to yield positive results.”