An investigation into how advances in social media and digital technology have affected consumers experience and behaviour during events
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The purpose of this study is to investigate if advances in social media and digital technology, have affected consumer behaviour during events, leading to a different event experience. Previous research has been carried out on social media engagement, digital technology and the experience economy. However, there proves to be several gaps within the literature, regarding how social media engagement has contributed to a change in consumer behaviour. This study is significant in analysing, the experience had at events, with the influence of social media, in order to create an academic source, for event planners to refer to and consider, when planning events. In order to assess this topic, the researcher chose to undertake a qualitative method of individual, semi-structured interviews. Ten regular event attendees and social media users were carefully selected to take part in the study. This approach was chosen, due to the complexity of questions that the researcher would ask. The researcher needed to gain personal and emotional responses, that provided a deeper meaning and descriptive example of their experiences at events, in relation to social media. The aims and objectives of the study included, finding out about the influence that social media has on consumer behaviour, while attending events and establishing how digital technology has created a different experience for attendees. The objectives were met, after analysing the data collected in the interviews and assessing it in relation to the literature. The findings conveyed, that participants had an interest in the activities of consumers and engaged in social media in order to stay up to date with others. The results also demonstrated that events were being attended, in order to promote an image of one’s self, through the use of social media platforms, rather than attending the event, for the purpose of entertaining one’s self. Other findings suggested, there was pressure from the media to change attendees’ identity, in order to partake in events and enjoy the experience. Additionally, the researcher established that viewing events on digital devices created a different event experience, for the consumer. Recommendations have been made, to help sustain the value of events. One of these includes, the use of an observation data collection method, to evaluate the engagement of social media, in an event environment. Additionally, event planners could consider developing an app specifically designed for event attendees. Event planners could also re-evaluate branding and sponsorship strategies, which promote an image that consumers want to display about themselves.