Once fringe cultural events, music festivals are now a mainstay of mainstream British summertime. Like most growing movements, brands are keen to leverage the opportunity and get their products and services under new noses. And there is one typically elusive group of particular interest when it comes to festivals: millennials.
We’re all well versed in how millennials are a tricky bunch to market to. Growing up as digital natives they simply tune out of traditional advertising, instead paying more credence to experiences. Fortunately, festival culture is perfect for brands to market themselves via experiences. With festival season now in full swing, we’re taking an in-depth look at why festivals offer such an unmissable marketing opportunity and how some of the best brands are capitalising on them.
The perfect opportunity
Brand sponsorship of music festivals in the US was around $1.22 bn in 2012 and is set to increase. It’s unsurprising – using music as a way to connect with an audience is very powerful. This isn’t just a theory – it’s backed by recent research that suggests 76% of festival attendees report feeling “more favourable toward brands that sponsor a tour or concert”, and 51% of all consumers also feel this way.
That is a pretty staggering statistic alone, yet it’s even more intriguing when you consider that 57.4% of festival goers are aged 16 – 34-years-old, according to the UK Festival Market Report 2017. Many of them also likely have reasonable disposable income, hence them attending. Add into the mix the fact that festivals usually last at least a couple of days with many attendees choosing to stay onsite for the duration, and you’ve got quite the millennial marketing opportunity.
This is particularly true for establishing newer brands like the Australian breakfast drink Up&Go who have been seen at UK festivals handing out free breakfast. A particularly appropriate match as the brand has a strong experiential pitch; “Become a Dawnbreaker. Make magic, make mischief and make memories before most have made breakfast”.
Think outside the box
Before signing up to the very next festival it’s important to pause and consider if it’s a natural match. Sparks fly when festivals work with brands which naturally reflect the vibe and spirit of that specific event. Trying to shoehorn a brand message that doesn’t fit into an unrelated festival will look at best awkward and at worse opportunistic.
Once the fit is right, it’s time to think about how to market. The festival landscape is unique in that it contains potentially thousands of your target demographic all in one place for a prolonged period of time. Generally speaking, attendees are also more likely to be more interested in fun and relevant brand communication than they typically would be otherwise, thanks to the laidback, fun focused atmosphere of a festival. Arguably a perfect experiential environment for a strong youth marketing campaign.
However simply pitching up and being seen is not enough. The festival landscape may be rife with opportunity, but it’s also rich with competition. You need to capture the minds of your audience in a crowded market and that can be very challenging. The answer? Think outside the box to stand out. With that in mind, here are four tips for standing out in the crowd.
1. Consider the demographic
It’s easy to say your demographic is millennials and be done with it. But while there aren’t any precise definitions of age boundaries for millennials, it’s often used to describe people between late teens and early 30s. And it’s fair to say a 17-year-old A Level student from Birmingham is pretty different to a 29-year-old banker in London.
Different festivals will attract different segments. For example, there is an increasing amount of niche boutique festivals complete with the likes of artisan food trucks, handcrafted gin and poetry tents. Wrangler capitalised on this trend wonderfully at Lowlands festival with a laundry service. The brand offered a full service in which festival attendees could drop of their muddy festival garb and slip into a Wrangler branded boiler suit while waiting for it to be washed. Not only does this offer a relevant experience, it is also a first class lesson in branding as it effectively turned thousands of attendees into walking, talking billboards.
2. Get them involved
Many festival goers are no longer content to just watch – they want to get involved too. No doubt this stems from Millennials love of creating and sharing content based on experiences rather than things. As such, many brands are now focusing on bringing physical experiences to the festival scene.
A great example of this in action is Mini Cooper at Lolopalooza. Festival goers could reserve a ride in the new Mini Paceman, which included stop offs at several different festival parties around the town. This cool offering attracted media, influencers and even bands playing at the festival. By offering a genuinely covetable experience, the brand attracted millennials in a natural way.
3. Rethink retail
Music festivals are predominately about, well, music. But that’s not to say there isn’t an opportunity for retail, perhaps just not in the traditional sense. By rethinking retail and tapping into trends you could better engage with the millennial festival goer.
A great example of this is the ShopBazaar pop-up boutique at Coachella. The pop-up store had MacBooks and iPads for shoppers to order clothes through ShopBazaar.com. Guests could walk away with brand new festival clothes to wear that day, and ShopBazaar benefited from more sales and customer details.
4. Be generous
Sometimes just plain old generosity pays off big time. Hunter did a fantastic job of this at Glastonbury when they set up a Wellington boot exchange. In return for their old muddy pair, festival goers would receive a brand new pair of hunters in bright orange.
In the end, they gave away around 3,000 pairs which while expensive worked fantastically with festival goers sharing images over social networks – not to mention the visual impact of all those orange wellies on the ground!
While festivals offer a fantastic opportunity for brands interested in millennials and youth marketing, it’s no longer enough to simply show up. Instead, think outside the box to appeal to millennials and conduct research into your audience and brand. Understand how best to maximise your brand and make the most of the experience festivals provide for your audience.