With Glastonbury done and dusted for another year, the festival saw 210,000 descend on Worthy Farm for five days of music, culture and arts. Tickets for this year’s event sold out in just over an hour whilst Elton John’s closing Sunday set drew in record TV audiences of 7.6m. Despite being in its 53rd year, the festival’s popularity shows no signs of waning.
In the late 1960s, with the birth of Woodstock, a breadth of festivals emerged, sparked by a countercultural wave that saw an anti-establishment rejection of the mainstream and an embrace of alternative ideals; freedom, self-expression and creativity. Today, music festivals have grown into a lucrative and competitive industry that sees approximately 1,000 events take place in the UK every year, from the mass-market summer headliners to hundreds of smaller, niche micro-events. This has no doubt been driven by the boom of the experiential economy, as, as the7stars’s March QT outlines, consumers increasingly value spending money on experiences as they look for meaningful ways to spend time with others.
With this growth, an increasing number of brands have looked to embed themselves in the festival scene. Whilst festival audiences are hugely diverse, large, shared experiences such as these channel connectivity and community. This concept is embodied in the7stars’ Cultural Codes with the idea of Collectivism exploring how shared behaviours enhance the joy that comes from social engagement. With festivals providing an opportunity to be part of larger cultural moments, they offer brands the chance to capture audiences with emotionally led, memorable moments that drive brand perception and loyalty. And this is something that festival-goers appear willing to engage with; according to YouGov, 53% say that they are open to getting involved in brand experiences.
There are a multitude of ways for brands to align with festival culture. From headline sponsorships, such as Virgin’s 22 year-long sponsorship of V Festival, to owning a space within the site itself as Vodafone did this year at Glastonbury with their free ‘Connect and Charge’ hub. Kopparberg too have become synonymous with the summer festival scene, targeting festival goers across social platforms for their recent “To Firsts That Last” campaign, whilst upweighting their digital OOH activity to key summer events such as Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds and Secret Garden.
As festivals become increasingly awash with marketing messaging, it’s important that brands connect with these communities in a genuine way, as the recent backlash to British Airways’ Glastonbury mock-up highlights. These days, audiences are not just there for the music but for a wide range of reasons – fashion, food, wellness, activism, connection with others – so it’s crucial that brands show audiences why they are there and why their brand matters to them to drive meaningful interactions and positively enhance the festival experience. With some of the biggest summer festivals yet to take place – Boardmasters, Creamfields, Boomtown, Latitude and Reading & Leeds – there’s opportunity yet for brands to connect with these valuable festival audiences this summer.