Festivals were born of the counterculture of the 1960s. Back then, they weren’t that cool nor were they that big. They allowed a specific demographic to flick peace signs, wear tie-dye and sway to the rhythm of their latest musical god. But that is not the case anymore. Festivals have gone mainstream, yet the modern customer is now looking to recreate that original, boutique experience.
According to market research firm Mintel, the value of the live music industry in the UK is believed to have grown by almost 50% from 2010 to 2015 and is now valued at more than £2 billion.
There is a festival for everyone and, more often than not, people don’t have to travel far to get to one. Indeed, the website eFestivals reported that, while there were 496 festivals listed on the site in 2007, by 2015, this figure had almost doubled to 1,070, raising the question, is this an oversaturated market?
“Festivals originated in an era of peace and love. Audiences were free-spirited, anti-government, anti-corporate and it certainly wasn't the domain of brands. Over time, as festivals have become more commercial, brands were seen as an important cash stream. Today, the most enlightened festival owners see them as creative partners; content contributors who add to the creative and experience mix as well as providing crucial funds." Rupert Pick, Co-founder, Hot Pickle
The festivals of today are all about the experience, rather than just the headline act. If you’re spending three days and upwards of £300 on a weekend, you want to get more from it than just listening to music. This need has created an opening for brands to provide additional experiences that will surprise and delight festival goers. It's become not necessarily about selling but rather enhancing, or providing, these unique moments.
An activation at a festival, or even a brand-owned festival, provides a real-time manifestation of a brand, amplifying their message and allowing consumers to be fully immersed in their world. But, what every brand needs to ensure is that the festival is relevant to them and that they use it as a platform from which they can communicate with their customer.
“A live or face-to-face interaction with a person or group is the ultimate way to communicate in both directions. Your audience is hungry for meaningful content and information and will reward a brave brand with good will and loyalty. Your audience will also provide invaluable information, opinions and ideas at a live event that cannot be replicated in any other media or environment.” Andy Harrison, Director, Hopper
Below we’ve picked out some of the trends that are driving the development of the festival industry and the brands who are successfully capitalising on the changing scene.