After a year of social distancing and lockdown, new research shows US marketers are getting closer to resuming live events. In an effort to help brands and consumers determine when it’s safe to host such events again, Jack Morton has launched a proprietary index called “Return to Live” that follows the factors contributing to the rate of recovery in the US. These include virus spread, vaccination rates, market demographics, consumer mobility and sentiment at the national, state and county level.

According to the index, the nation is halfway there, scoring a 4.78 out of 10 in its progress toward resuming in-person experiences. Some states may be able to begin hosting live events sooner than others. The data show that the top five states closest to recovery scored an average of 8.68 and include Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Minnesota. At an average score of 2.0, the worst performers are Illinois, North Carolina, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Florida.

The high average scores gleaned from the data reflect new case rates below the national average and vaccination rates of 50 percent or above. Nationally, consumer mobility to recreational and retail areas is -5 percent below pre-pandemic levels, reports Jack Morton. However, top states are seeing consumer mobility figures equal to or greater than pre-pandemic levels. Low scoring states, on the other hand, report higher than average case rates and lower vaccination numbers.

“The data and the empirical evidence are trending in the right direction, but we still need to carefully review location and context. There is still a lot of disparity as you zoom in on the map,” said Scott Varland, senior vice president and head of Jack X North America.

Additionally, the index revealed a positive correlation between states with high recovery scores and mask mandates still in place or recently lifted. States with poor recovery scores never had a mask mandate or lifted it before or shortly after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated mask recommendation in May.

Looking ahead, Jack Morton found that in Q3, 63 percent of brands plan to host in-person events, 19 percent plan to stick to virtual events and 18 percent will adopt a hybrid approach. In Q4, 71 percent of marketers are committed to throwing live events, while 16 percent will utilize a hybrid model and 13 percent a virtual model.

Upcoming live events include the Mobile World Congress in late June; the Chicago Auto Show; Lollapalooza and the Bonnaroo Festival. Among the virtual events planned for the remainder of 2021 include E3 and San Diego Comic-Con.