With spring comes the start of the season of music festivals. From Coachella, Bonnaroo and Sasquatch to Lollapalloza, Outside Lands and Firefly, these festivals are literally music to the consumers’ ears. But what does this all mean to brands? A whole lot, really.
Brands have the perfect opportunity to plant the seed and play a role in building everlasting experiences. This may sound far off and exaggerated, but once noticed, there is no way to escape the sight of brands fighting for consumers’ attention. What better time to interact with festivalgoers than when they are at their best? Festivalgoers are in their own environment and in their happiest state. They are among old friends, new friends and their favorite bands. Most importantly for brands, festivalgoers are likely far from home and with limited resources (this includes food and clothing, too), which leads them to voluntarily seek refuge, hydration, and tech juice just to name a few. And they have a whole array of brands providing this for them in a noninvasive manner, for free nonetheless.
Phone is dead because you are camping and a power source is not readily available in the wilderness? Don’t worry; Rhapsody will let you in their tent to charge your phone.
Need to refresh and remove the questionable elements off your locks in hot and humid 100+ degree weather? Garnier Fructis will be happy to provide you with free hair washing, and of course free samples to go along with it for when you are ready to shower and remove the layers of dirt that are making you look 5 shades tanner.
With festivalgoers voluntarily seeking out sustenance, free snacks and beverages hold a strong presence at music festivals as well. Stop by the Matador Beef Jerky tent and grab a day’s worth in-between show snacks. Or hydrate yourself at the Vitamin Water tent, as many times as you want — while also taking advantage of the fan-powered beanbag lounging area.
Not only are brands fulfilling a range of needs for these consumers but they are also naturally forcing themselves in conversations and becoming a part of the experience. Stages named after a brand are an easy way to integrate the brand in festivalgoers’ vocabulary without them even realizing it. Stages become meeting points and destinations for the long weekend: “Meet you at the Honda stage for Tune-Yards” or “Bon Iver is playing at the esurance stage at 10pm”. After subconsciously being visually exposed to a branded stage for at least 12 hours for 4 days straight, it becomes implanted in the brain. Proof: I definitely noticed and paid attention to the esurance ad in the elevator of our office building this morning (after being at The Gorge Amphitheater all weekend where the main stage was sponsored and branded by esurance.)
On a similar note, adding to the music festival experience are brands that are creating additional ones. For example, private acoustic shows sponsored by a beer brand acted as a simple way to interact with consumers on a personal level. Kokanee mixed it up this past weekend at Sasquatch by offering exclusive acoustic shows, while also making a game out of it and challenging consumers to capture a pic with a costumed Sasquatch for entry to sets of better known bands. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find that at Sasquatch but I am now well aware of Kokanee beer. If I would’ve made it into the set I can assure you that every time I sip on that beer I’d be reminded of the good time at the exclusive acoustic set I was a part of at that one music festival once upon a time.
Brands have the opportunity to seamlessly become a part of the experience and most importantly, the chance to become saviors by supplying key needs. No one ever forgets a savior, and that is exactly why it is crucial for brands to take advantage and connect face-to-face with consumers. And in a world of sharing, festivalgoers will make sure those back home are looped in. It’s time for brands to start thinking about next year’s round up of festivals and what it can offer to the festivalgoer. With one thing to keep in mind: They are voluntarily seeking out freebies to get them by for the next couple of days and experiences to remember for years to come.