Consumers are still seeking experiences, but it’s going to take more than a colorful photo to get them to open their wallets.
The most successful — and lucrative — experiential products and services contain actual experiences.
One example, said Amanda Fraga, vice president of fan insights at entertainment company and events promoter Live Nation, is music festivals.
“They provide an authentic experience rather than just an Insta-worthy environment,” Fraga said. “That being said, music festivals also provide a great opportunity for brands to think about how to come to life in a way that is going to help people capture the memories. Having something share-worthy and fun and experimental and immersive is amazing — people do want to partake in that — but it can’t be the driving force for going [to the event].”
And musical events, Fraga pointed out, aren’t just for teenage girls sporting flower-power hair pieces and glittery makeup anymore. The modern music festival has evolved to include a multitude of age ranges, styles and interests, all of which have products for sale.
That’s good news for companies and brands that wish to capitalize on them. Even better news is that the time frame to reach consumers spans far beyond the actual time and date of the event.
In fact, it takes place in four parts: discover, plan, experience and relive.
“People are consuming content the entire journey,” Fraga said. “We all kind of think, we show up at the festival and then it’s over after a weekend and then we go home. But the reality is, you might be spending four to six months planning before a festival. That’s a lot of rich time where you can be connecting with consumers in a way that’s really meaningful, as they choose what they want to wear and put a lot of intention into their outfits.”
She added that the phases are not always chronological. People are constantly discovering new events, for example. The planning phase might include friends sharing outfits they want to wear on social, or coordinating matching looks for a festival. They might even be searching on different platforms, looking for new products to use or to take with them on their trip. Afterwards, consumers often want to relive the moments, perhaps even inspire others in their network to go on similar journeys. This is where colorful backdrops come in.
Fraga said her job is to create a positive memory or association of brands and products in consumers’ minds. But in order to turn virtual followers into real life customers, the brands must also fulfill a need or purpose in the market.
“The first step is definitely trying to understand the brands’ business objectives. What are they bringing to the brand that is truly different?” Fraga said. “It’s an incredible opportunity to think about the entire fan journey and not just that one moment.”