Music festivals give brands the chance to engage with consumers in new and interactive ways: pop-up booths, product sampling and through brand ambassadors.

// Nicole Larrauri, Managing Partner, EGC Group

Music Festival Marketing

Music Festival MarketingIt’s officially summer, and music (and other seasonal) festivals are popping up in everyone’s calendar alerts. In fact, there are more music festivals and more people attending music festivals this year than ever before. Because booking headlining bands and throwing a three-day drunk fest (er, concert series) for half a million fans is costly, many brands don’t host their own but rather activate live experiences at existing venues as a way to put their brand in the center of the event and market to festival goers.

“Today’s festival audiences are experience-seekers,” says Michael Stotsky, our new business director. “Millennials, especially, are valuing an experience more than a possession. And brands who find ways to become a part of an audience’s memories will have the upper hand when it comes to creating lifetime loyalty.”

IEG reports that marketing sponsorships at music venues, festivals and tours hit near the $1.34 billion in 2014. Not surprisingly, alcohol brands were a leading industry in those sponsorships. However, they’re not the only ones benefiting. In the EventTrack 2015 Report by Event Marketing Institute and Mosaic, 79% of all brands are executing more event and experiential programs in 2015 compared to last year. The same report shows an expected 6.1% growth in event and experiential marketing budgets at those companies.

So why sponsor a music festival?

81% of companies sponsoring events are doing so to create or increase brand awareness; 62% are hoping to enhance product knowledge or understanding; and 57% want to influence deeper customer involvement, according to EventTrack 2015. And the sponsorships pay off! A significant 98% of respondents said that participating in the experience made them more inclined to purchase; 74% said brand perception was positively improved; and 70% said they’d likely become a regular customer. Compared to other mediums, an experience is more valuable to a consumer, with 87% saying that experiences are more effective than TV advertisements.

When given the opportunity to try a product out first, 78% of consumers are motivated to actually make a purchase.

“It goes back to what Confucius, himself, believed,” explains Stotsky. “If you tell someone, they may forget. If you show them, they may remember. But when you involve someone, that’s when they understand. With a unique experience, that’s when you drive action.”

According to Digital Music News, 32 million people will attend at least one U.S. music festival this year, with a third of those folks attending more than one. 46% of festival attendees are aged 18 to 34, and 51% of festival goers are women. Nielsen reports that these types of events are most popular among Hispanic and African American populations. Most festival goers are active on social media, including Snapchat, Vine and Tumblr. So if your brand’s target audience aligns, a music festival is a can’t-miss piece of your marketing pie.

How do you create a memorable experience at a music festival?

Music festivals attract the most cutting-edge trends in music and culture, so they’re a great fit for pulling off really creative activations while engaging large numbers of musicians, fans and even media. Sure, a banner on a sponsored stage may be in the mix, too, but where the real marketing power resonates is with the experiences created.

See some examples of musical festival marketing campaigns, courtesy of BizBash.

Any experience must be designed specifically for the target audience. What benefit will they receive? How can a brand become a part of their lifestyle? It has to make sense, or consumers will see the commercialism and not want to engage.

Brands must be willing to bend a little bit to reap the greatest rewards. For example, Monster recently sponsored an event but filled their branded cans with water, not their own product, to help festival goers stay hydrated, because that’s what they wanted at the time of the experience. A car brand might initially want to hand out a poster of their newest model, but fans would rather get a poster of their favorite band from the concert, so include a small sponsor logo and increase your chance of finding wall space in their home. Pairing the experience with a well-thought-out take-home item will re-ignite all those positive thoughts over and over.

Does the music stop when the festival ends?

Sponsoring a large event, like a musical festival, doesn’t have to be a one-off activity. Your brand can keep the singing alive even after the experience ends.

An experience should be share-worthy and socially-fueled, which will organically increase the reach of the experience and expand its life. We also recommend producing digital content, such as video or consumer testimonials, from the experience itself that can be re-purposed into long-living content or future promotions. For example, roll out a series of branded concert videos with live band clips that you can push out via YouTube and social after the event. Or, use some of the footage you capture from the experience in your next TV or digital ads. Experiences are also great ways to conduct marketing research at the same time as you raise awareness of your brand, which can provide additional value to your company. And, of course, experiences are a great opportunity to collect contact information for retargeting after the event.

So if you’re ready to boost your sponsorship at Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Pitchfork, Coachella or one of the many others, let us know. We’ll make your brand sing.