No longer the preserve of youth, nor for those merely extending into the kidulting years, the festival demographic has mushroomed over the past decade, and this in turn has opened up the market for brands looking to activate in a festival environment.
Across the summer, everything from white goods through to toothpaste, fashion to consumer electronics will be promoted to festival-goers as the shifting and widening demographic has allowed less obvious brands to enter the field. Festival culture has evolved and for many groups, the annual summer gathering has become a lifestyle option and with it comes the expectation that brands will be present, delivering tangible services and experiences to enhance the event itself.
Mike White, founding partner of Lively explains: "The relationship between brands and festivals has also become more refined –it’s often less overtly promotional and more about forming brand partnerships that will gain a mutual benefit from engaging the same demographic."
Brand partnerships that enhance the overall festival experience are actively encouraged at several music festivals, such as Camp Bestival, which last year hosted Holiday Island by First Choice Holidays. Ziggy Gilsenan, managing director of Get Involved and Camp Bestival co-promoter, describes a collaborative approach: "We work with House of Bestival, our agency, to work with the brands as partners and really understand their objectives from concept through to activation. Each brand must be a natural fit for Camp Bestival."
And while existing festivals are keen to welcome in the brands, for some, such as Hendrick’s Gin, the opportunity to create their own festival experience is proving irresistible, giving both the opportunity to invest in a bespoke audience while also creating shareable content.
And consumers’ insatiable thirst for these new festival experiences will in turn fuel the continued growth of festivals, believes Exposure X director James Wallingford. "With the continued growth of the festival landscape and the industry’s natural progression into a wider range of cultural touchpoints, the experience is going to become deeper. Consumers will look for new ways to have unique festival experiences. This is a really interesting time for brands and festival owners to take a different approach, no longer do consumers want or expect a festival in a field.
"Music tourism continues to increase and is now an established revenue stream for festival organisers. The travel and festival industries are set to become great partners; the Coachella Festival has already partnered with Celebrity Cruises, hosting 3,000 festival-goers on a cruise to the Bahamas ensuring their audiences will continue to have an amazing experience the world over."
Of course, no glance forward to 2025 could ignore the advances that the latest tech will deliver. RPM strategist Jocelyn Turlan believes emerging technologies will provide the opportunity to personalise the festival experience on a truly detailed scale: "We can easily imagine that huge advancements in technology will allow programmatic to be applied to experiential marketing. This will probably enable a level of personalisation and customisation of brand experiences never seen before. Brands will create a unique story but they’ll be able to execute and deliver it in as many ways as required by their audience segmentations. Stop thinking bespoke festival activities and start dreaming personally tailored experiences for festival-goers."
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