How are Gen Z redefining festival culture?

Festival at night

After two years of major uncertainty, festival season is coming back in full force. But how are Gen Zs feeling about it? And how can your brand get involved? 

Festivals have long been a favorable springtime and summer activity. Music festivals in particular are popular amongst the younger generation. However, with festivals off the cards during the height of the pandemic, we’re uncovering how the Gen Z demographic expect to approach festivals this year – some for the first time. 

We’re zooming in on their thoughts, feelings, key festival purchases and the ‘new wave’ of festivals and events that are becoming a big hit in Gen Zs’ world. 

Festivals: pent-up demand 

65% of 16-24s in the US attend festivals, but over the course of the pandemic, they – along with club nights and concerts – were canceled or postponed, making it difficult for students to get their live music fix. 

For 2022, festivals and live music events are set to be running at full capacity throughout the spring and summer season, and Gen Z’s pent-up demand for these events is high. Our research shows that 46% of students spend their money on events and activities over spring break, with 36% planning to attend a festival this year specifically. 

Three students sat down facing a stage

For this year’s summer vacation period, 57% of Gen Z students listed events as something they’re most looking forward to doing, alongside spending time with friends and buying a new summer wardrobe. Fashion brands and beauty brands can expect festival staples like body paint, sunglasses, hats, mesh and florals to be popular trends among young festival-goers this year. 

Festivals: are Gen Zs apprehensive? 

Music festivals have been a firm favorite for multiple generations. Glastonbury in the UK has been active since 1970, having built up a huge reputation with big headline names like Beyonce, Metallica, Stormzy and David Bowie. Running since 1999, Coachella has gained a huge Millennial fan base over the years, becoming the hotspot for festival fashion that sweeps Instagram timelines every year. 

For Gen Z, some apprehension around festivals has arisen not only from the uncertainty of the pandemic, but also from a safety point of view. Last year, the deadly crowd crush at Astroworld festival in Texas was a devastating incident that dominated online discourse among Gen Zs for several days – and in many ways tainted the return to festivals that young people were so excited for. 

Whilst this was an isolated event, this has no doubt triggered a sense of worry for some young people hitting up the festival scene for the first time in their adult lives this year. As such, safety is a big consideration that events companies and brands with an active role in these events should promote far and wide to help Gen Zs, in particular, feel confident when purchasing their tickets. 

The new wave of festivals 

Gen Z are known to drink less than the generations that came before them. Why? Their health-conscious attitudes, advocacy for mental health awareness and fear for their safety are just some of the reasons why they are less inclined to take part in drinking culture. 

Not only does this change the way they approach festivals, but it also widens the types of festivals and events they are interested in attending. Festivals that tap into a range of their interests are increasingly becoming a popular choice for young consumers. 

table of food

Things like Comic Con, food festivals, film/TV conventions and influencer-run events appeal to Gen Z because they are a chance to meet with others who share the same interests. Contrary to belief, 62% of students attend conventions and conferences – so don’t neglect these types of events when conducting your student marketing strategy. 

How can brands get involved? 

Festivals and events are a great platform for brands to market themselves. Becoming an event sponsor, securing a stand at a festival or providing the goodie bags at an influencer event are all great opportunities for brands to increase their exposure in front of Gen Z consumers. 

For the organizers themselves, offering a student discount is an effective way to draw students in. 48% of students start saving for summer activities a few months before the season rolls around, to ensure they have sufficient budget for bigger ticket items like vacations and events. 86% said they would attend events more often if there were more student discounts offered. 

With so much pent-up demand for a restriction-free summer, the right incentives are sure to help students decide where their brand loyalties lie. 

To win the hearts of Gen Z, you have to know your audience. Register for our webinar ‘staying relevant in the world of Gen Z’ to hear how Domino’s, Contiki and HelloFresh are defining their brand with this crucial demographic in mind. 

Gen Z and the Future of Ecommerce

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