It’s festival season, and that means music, friends and congregations galore.
An astounding 32 million Americans attend at least one music festival per year, according to Billboard—that’s more than the entire population of Texas. These engaged consumers create opportunities for experiential marketing that can’t be found anywhere else.
We asked two brands active in the festival circuit—American Express and Vans—about how they approach experiential marketing both as partners and event organizers.
American Express has been a partner with Coachella for three years and this year attracted the festival’s largest attendance ever. The legacy credit card company appealed to affluent millennials at Coachella with special events for platinum card holders. The American Express Platinum House in nearby Palm Springs offered attendees SoulCycle classes, premium food and drinks and a private concert by Bebe Rexha. For everyone else attending Coachella, the American Express Experience tent allowed music fans to create their own “mini music video,” as well as unlock special rewards through the official Coachella app.
“This partnership [with Coachella] has truly blossomed into a fully integrated experience with multiple American Express touchpoints throughout the festival, from providing utility and differentiated value through a special in-app experience to offering services on-site including a spend offer, to activating off-site for our Platinum card members who travel in for the experience,” Deb Curtis, American Express’ vice president of global partnerships and experiential marketing, told AlistDaily. “We look to surround the experience with service that truly delights our card members.”
In addition to partnering with festivals from Pandora, too, American Express hosts a music app, highlights up-and-coming talent and offers preferred seating and advanced ticket sales for card members. In this way, the company is not just offering rewards, but building a relationship with its customers.
“We know that when we create memorable experiences and provide unique access for card members in the moments that matter to them, such as festivals, they feel more loyal to the relationship with our brand,” says Curtis. “In fact, because we have access to such rich data, we’re able to see how those who engage with us respond in the moment and over time and we see—year after year—a positive impact across key loyalty metrics. This investment in our customers pays back in a longer, more fulfilling relationship between card members and the brand. That’s what drives us to deliver for them time and time again, and fuels us to serve them better and better each year.”
— American Express (@AmericanExpress) June 20, 2017
The study further revealed that 55 percent of millennials say they’re spending more on events and live experiences than ever before. In addition, 69 percent believe attending live events and experiences make them more connected to other people, the community and the world.
The Vans Warped Tour has traveled the US for 25 years running, partnering with some of the biggest bands—and brands—to create unique experiences for its guests.
“We like to think if a brand can dream it up, we can make it happen,” a Vans Warped Tour representative told AlistDaily. “We, as a tour have partnered with brands in myriad ways from basic on-site activations and sales to promotions, couponing, sampling, artist partnerships and in-store appearances.”
Vans is open-minded with its brand partnerships, which have varied to ones like with cheese maker Emmi Roth.
“[Partnership type] varies, but if a brand wants to work with us, we will make it work,” said Vans. “We will not, however, work with tobacco brands or alcohol brands, or really anything that our CEO and founder deems inappropriate for our audience.”
While the company is open to working with a variety of brands, Vans has strong feelings about creating value for its partners.
“We do our best to work with our sponsors to create programs that have built-in measurability [like] trackable coupons, samples given out and social media increases. We work closely with our sponsors to try to make sure they get what they want.”
While many festivals turn to RFID wrist bands and apps to cater to a digital native demographic, some types of music marketing never change.
“I think the most obvious change in marketing is that things have become primarily digital,” Vans explained. “That being said, in the last couple of years we’ve seen a bit of a backup to traditional postering, street teams, and the like. But I think overall, the evolution of the internet and social media is truly the biggest change we’ve seen.”