Festival goers attend the Coachella Music & Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Club, in Indio, Calif2019 Coachella Music And Arts Festival - Weekend 1 - Day 1, Indio, USA - 12 Apr 2019

Since 1999, much has changed for Coachella, which originally centered around music. Now art installations and brands compete head-to-head with the event’s five main stages to win festivalgoers, long past their weekend stint in the desert.

Coachella is anything but barren; it’s perhaps overly ripe with celebrity appeal, influencers and brand real estate and thus — new marketing opportunities, as brands argue. As an annual music and arts festival, Coachella runs for two weekends from April 12 to 14, and 19 to 21 and is hosted at the Empire Polo Club grounds in Indio, Calif.

Although argued to be “oversaturated from a few years ago,” as previously reported in WWD, data-driven marketing agencies claim there is still opportunity to be found in creating intentional moments that are bolstered with data, so long as they add value.

Most of the festivalgoers at Coachella are Millennials who aspire to be part of one of “the most Instagrammable, fashion-focused events of the year,” according to Ryan Detert, chief executive officer of Influential, an artificial intelligence and social data company that connects brands with influencers.

And with the renewed accuracy and precision of digital targeting, brands can “infiltrate festival sites” with targeted and measurable media, according to Benjamin Hordell, founding partner of DXagency, a full-service digital ad agency. Hordell believes geofencing technology helps reach the festivalgoer on mobile, sharing “personalized value in the form of offers, access and even exclusive content,” long after the festival ends.

Today, the Coachella mobile app activates the purchasing wristbands and premium camping or “glamping” options exist, and brands rush to seize a cultural moment, and new customer capture. Brands are using Coachella’s grounds to elevate brand awareness and activate sales. Even for traditional brands such as American Express and Marriott, Coachella offers a way to connect with Millennials in a “modern, efficient way.” Whereas established “Millennial-approved” brands aim to “to strengthen that bond and ensure they’re top of mind” in an authentic way, according to Detert.

Creating authenticity in the moment is nothing without data. “The most savvy retailers are aligning with leading social platforms that can track back to foot traffic and purchases in stores, as well as increased sales and site visits online,” reiterated Detert. Signage and presence is no longer enough for brands. “Consumers demand more in terms of measurement and engagement from their festival presences,” and the use of digital media and digital technology is the solution to delivering that, as Hordell added.

Seizing the moment (and moments to come) 

Some brand activations such as The YSL Beauty pop-up in Cathedral City or social media-born, Gen Z-friendly Dolls Kill with its Quickie Mart located 3 miles away from festival grounds, offer the goods for the “ultimate Coachella survival.” Likewise, BMW is pushing its #RoadtoCoachella campaign with the artist Khalid.

“A lot of brands are investing in the moments that matter,” said Tamara Perenic, experiential marketing manager at Dolls Kill, in an interview with WWD. And Coachella is definitely on the list, but the journey after Coachella is where brands are aiming to connect and retain those customers.

This weekend, Bose launched its spatial audio sunglasses that allow users to access information without having to look at their smartphone. Hordell informed that this “innovative use of AR allows for the user to prioritize the festival experience, which is a smart move when connecting with Gen Z and Millennial consumers.”

For now, micro-influencers still continue momentum

While the micro-influencers, together in some variation of fanny packs, cutoff shorts, cowboy hats and glittered cheeks are “a better value for brands,” according to Detert, there still needs to be “authentic” engagement for brands to realize a lasting impact.

By choosing to go with many micro-influencers, you can “hedge your investment while also creating more content for more perspectives,” said Hordell. Brands should opt to offer as many perspectives as possible to give their consumers additional opportunities to connect. However, these “many perspectives” may be muddled by an event such as Coachella, whereby VIP treatment still separates tiers of influence, in a reality where “everyone’s an influencer” in their own right.

The bottom line for marketers is to consider what value they are aiming to create at Coachella, and whether that investment is a stunt or a segue to brand loyalty is up to the consumer.

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