The Future of Experiential


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After the longest 18 months that most of us in the UK events industry have experienced, a recent survey conducted by CSM presents a bright future for those in retail, sport and events.

With social distance restrictions finally eased in the UK, there fortunately remains opportunities for brands to reconnect with consumers starved of cultural immersion for the past year.

CSM surveyed 526 consumers aged between 18-74 in July, and the results provide interesting and positive results for the events industry.

Retail environments, food festivals and sports events are the live events and experiences people are most looking forward to.


After being deprived of live events for over a year, younger audiences are more optimistic about their return, whilst uncertainty about attending increases with age. Baby Boomers (56-74) are more hesitant in general, which is to be expected given the greater threat that COVID poses.

Having seen high-capacity crowds with young families new to the sport mixing with cricket fans (Millennials and Gen X) all around the country at The One Hundred since its launch in July, this fits well with CSM’s responses.

Gen Z (18-23) are more than twice as likely as Baby Boomers (56-74) to attend live sports events in 2021 which we have seen with Wembley near to capacity for England’s matches at Euro 2020 and Test Matches against India selling out at Old Trafford and more recently Lord’s.

Gen Z are more than twice as likely as Baby Boomers to attend live sports events and music concerts in 2021, and 4.6 times more likely to attend a music festival.


49% of people say they feel more cautious about attending live events and experiences.

Over third of people are either more excited about attending (20%), or haven’t had their attitudes changed at all (16%)

42% of Gen Z’s are more excited about attending live events versus only 8% of Baby Boomers. Despite this increased caution from Baby Boomers, over 4 in 5 still expect to attend a live event or experience in the foreseeable future.



Unsurprisingly safety is at the forefront of people’s minds with 92% of people expecting additional safety measures at live events and experiences.

Temperature checks are the most important safety measure event organisers can implement to provide reassurance to visitors (58%), closely followed by running contactless / touchless experiences at 52%.

In general, safety measures are more important to younger audiences and men – they’re more excited about returning to live events, however they’re not reckless and see the importance of safety measures to provide reassurance, limit transmission and mitigate the risks of COVID



After over a year without festivals, live sports and other live experiences, it seems people are looking to be entertained first and foremost; whilst sampling from brands remains popular.

Gen Z are less enamoured with sampling than older audiences – only 10% rate it as their favourite type of experience versus baby boomers at 32%, whilst experiences that demonstrate a brand’s purpose are twice as popular with men as with women (10% versus 5%)



The feedback on the future of experiential marketing at events is thankfully positive.

Understandably people want to curate their own experiences – 44% would rather be free to enjoy an event or experience on their own, 38% would rather be free to enjoy an experience on their own but have access to event staff­ if required.

This potentially is interesting when it comes to staff planning at events, brands and agencies might be able to cut back on staff numbers but will need to ensure their experiential activity can be experienced by consumers on their own.

64% of people are more likely to consider a brand if they have engaged with their experiential activity.

More positivity and good news for those who run event experiences. We must make our customers feel safe and enable them to enjoy the experiences on their own. Bringing creativity into our health and safety measures, integrating them into the design and journey in the most engaging way possible. Then we have a potential acquisition in the making.

Click here to view an infographic of the results.

If you’d like to discuss the survey results in more detail and explore how you can take advantage of the trends identified, you can book a session for CSM to share the detailed results by contacting