Virtual Events During COVID-19: Untapped Opportunity

By Christine Pelosi, Information Specialist, 4A’s Research, [email protected], using exclusive survey data from Researchscape.


Using Researchscape, an agile market research consultancy, 4A’s Research surveyed 1048 people to learn about consumer participation in online events and how brands can use them to reach consumers.

The results were quite surprising; 49% of respondents have not watched a pre-recorded online event and 55% have not watched a live online event during this pandemic. With more time being spent at home across the country, we thought more people would be drawn to virtual experiences to help pass the time.

We see an opportunity for brands to reach untapped consumers through online events and experiences.

Here are key findings from the survey, including demographics of those who are watching online events, what they’re watching, how they find out about them, attitudes towards advertising during such events, and interest in brand sponsored events.

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, popular topics for online events include workout sessions, concerts, how-to classes, and cooking classes. Church/religious services is the number one write-in answer for the types of events respondents are attending.

Researchscape, 2020

Millennials are more likely to attend online events than other generations. We found that viewership within this age group actually increases with pre-recorded events versus those that are live. Having online events and videos available when consumers need them will give a brand an advantage.

Researchscape, 2020

Most consumers learn about online events through social media. Friends/family is another avenue where consumers learn about events. Email and web searches tie for third.

Researchscape, 2020

81% of respondents are willing to watch advertisements to keep an online event free, showing consumers understand the role advertising plays in keeping content free. People are also willing to pay for events. One-third of consumers will pay between $11 and $50 for a live event. Keep in mind the next most popular answer is zero (27%).

Researchscape, 2020

Many online events request donations. The majority of respondents (55%) did donate when such an option was available. This could be a way for small businesses to reach new consumers and thrive throughout this pandemic.

71% of consumers are likely to participate in an online event offered or sponsored by their favorite brand. We see a higher interest in such events among multicultural consumers; 26% of Hispanic respondents said they would “completely likely” participate in brand sponsored online events, while 32% of African Americans said they would “very likely” attend.

Researchscape, 2020

Tips for your client’s next virtual event:

  • Consumers are turning to online events to supplement activities they participated in pre-COVID.
  • Recorded events are more popular. If you have a live event, give consumers access to the recorded version when it’s available.
  • Consumers, especially Hispanic and African-American consumers, are interested in events from their favorite brands.
  • Promote your events through social media.
  • The majority of consumers are happy to watch ads to keep virtual events free.


We’re excited to announce that ResearchScape is a member of AAP, which provides exclusive discounts for 4A’s members. Learn more about Researchscape and its custom survey service here!