2021 Consumer Trend 2: The Great Escapes

2020 was a year for escapism. Here’s how to benefit from it in 2021.

In the United States, the entertainment and media industry generates more than $700 billion per year, and represents one-third of the global entertainment market. This, perhaps more so than any other sector, represents the best of times and the worst of times. 

We’ve already talked about the “All By Myself” shift; in terms of entertainment and escape, at-home entertainment services thrived in the midst of COVID-19. Online streaming services/SVOD, video games/consoles, and even old school games such as puzzles and role-playing games all experienced dramatic spikes in engagement. Meanwhile, as people flocked to online sources for news and connection, social media properties and news media welcomed record numbers of users and viewers.

On the opposite side of this equation, in-person venues such as concerts, performing arts productions, and festivals suffered. And, one of the greatest escapes people turn to—vacations—saw sharp declines as people held off on travel plans.

“Immersive new technologies mean that people can increasingly get their experience-based status fixes from virtual experiences, too.”
– Trend Watching, Trends Accelerated by the COVID Crisis

This is the overall picture of Shift #2: The Great Escapes. Demand for entertainment as an escape from the realities of life is at an all-time high…even as access to entertainment and travel is likely to remain constrained for some time.

That means virtual experiences of every kind are beginning to take root, and will continue to grow in the future. Not surprisingly, Forbes recently reported that virtual events grew more than 1,000% in 2020…and we see that growth continuing in 2021 and beyond.

On a smaller scale, the impact of great escapes will mean an opportunity to create virtual stand-ins for in-person experiences. Artificial Intelligence offerings, already seeing expansion pre-COVID, are beginning to mainstream. That means virtualized travel, virtualized concerts, virtualized performances, and much more. It also means chatbots and other technology to make online interaction more immediate and effective. And even virtual companions will continue to evolve; now that Siri and Alexa have gained widespread acceptance, we think there’s room to take it a step further with virtual companions in immersive online environments.

Three Ways AmpliFi can Help You Benefit from the “Great Escapes” Consumer Shift

STREAMING

Yes, streams such as Twitch and YouTube Live are enjoying healthy growth. But streams will grow beyond those bounds. We mentioned the impact on travel before; as consumers are starved to visit far-off locales, we see a niche for travelstreaming, with personalities or locals creating online experiences for wishful travelers at home. Or, consider shopstreaming to enhance unique shopping experiences or luxury shopping experiences. Right now, there’s room for streaming of any activity hampered by the pandemic; in a post-pandemic world, people will continue to seek out such experiences.

CHATBOTS & AUTOMATION

As more and more people expect more and more instant connection with brands, chatbots and automated messaging can benefit customer service and sales. Chatbots can recognize common questions based on keywords, and automatically offer those answers. They can suggest related products and services as part of the checkout process. And they can reduce demand on support channels by allowing customers to self-serve.

ONLINE EVENTS

If you have an existing event, it can pivot to an online event with a deeper level of connection and activity. (For instance, you can offer more breakout sessions, interest topics, performances, etc.) Even if you don’t currently have an online event, it’s strategically wise to create one, because it’s an added level of interaction people are craving.