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How Young Europeans Feel About Experiences Now, in 3 Stats

Jul 28 2022

After two years of canceled and delayed events, do young Europeans still value experiences as much as they used to? These 3 stats tell the story…


TL;DR

  • Though events and experiences looked a lot different during the pandemic, young Europeans didn’t lose their interest in them—and they’re ready for more
  • As we enter the post-COVID world, the majority of young Europeans say they want to attend an in-person event in the next six months
  • Virtual experiences are here to stay, and though these gens want to go out IRL, many still plan to take part in digital events, too

YPulse has tracked Gen Z and Millennials’ passion for experiences for years now, which has fueled the rise of everything from foodie culture to travel to the experiencification of brands and retail. But for obvious reasons, the past two years saw in-person events and experiences canceled and delayed over and over again. Even last year’s promise of a hot vax summer was squashed by surging COVID, which put a stop to in-person events yet again. The live music industry, in particular, saw a whiplash as the grand return of festivals and concerts came crashing down and many were canceled for the second year in a row. Meanwhile, young consumers hunkered down and got comfy at home, while many said they would never return to certain in-person events again, including their beloved concerts and even pubs.

At the same time, virtual events went mainstream, leading to the rise of the metaverse and an even greater interest in gaming as these gens sought entertainment and connection from home. And though young Europeans have been craving in-person experiences for a while now, the question remains: how do they feel about experiences now? In our recent WE Experiences behavioral report, we dug into how in-person and virtual events will impact young Europeans now, their expectations moving forward, and how brands can participate in and create experiences that resonate with these gens. Here are three stats that tell the story:

The majority of young Europeans would rather spend money on experiences than things

First off, one thing is clear: these gens are still driven by experiences. Two-thirds of young Europeans tell YPulse they’d rather spend their money on experiences like concerts and travel than material items such as clothing, underscoring just how high experiences rank for them. What’s more, 75% agree, “I find that I appreciate my money more when I use it to do something I enjoy rather than buying a product.” These feelings are higher among Millennials than Gen Z, which makes sense—Millennials are the original experience enthusiasts, and they also have higher spending power, making it easier for them to purchase a pricey festival ticket without feeling its effects.

Meanwhile, young Spanish consumers are the most event-centric, with 74% saying they’d rather spend their money on experiences than things, compared to 59% of French consumers, who are the least likely to prefer events over materials items. We’ve found that young Spanish consumers are the most interested in sports (and live sporting events), as well as the most likely to be purchasing tickets for live events this summer. With this demographic the most excited about a variety of events, brands should keep an eye on these active consumers as they get out and about this summer.

Nearly four in five want to attend an in-person event this year

As Gen Z and Millennials get used to their “new normal”—a.k.a. living their lives within the pandemic—the majority are ready to return to IRL experiences: 79% of young Europeans say they’re interested in attending an in-person event in the next six months. The top events they want to go to are parties, sporting events, escape rooms, and concerts and festivalsbig and small. In other words, they’re craving a return to pre-pandemic norms and are also seeking fun, entertaining activities. A number of festivals are back on in Europe this year while escape rooms are trending once again. Escape rooms were the U.K.’s most sought-after experience in 2019, leading to a wave of Doctor Who and Sherlock rooms to open across the U.K. Now, they’re open again, and Gen Z in particular are flocking back to the fun. Again, young Spanish consumers are the most interested in IRL events (81%) and French consumers the least (62%), but out of all young Europeans, the vast majority say they would rather attend an in-person event than a virtual one. While that does mean that the “real world” may still be more appealing than the buzzy metaverse, young consumers certainly aren’t shutting the door on virtual events…

More than half are still interested in attending virtual events

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: virtual events are here to stay. Though at the start of the pandemic, virtual events felt like less compelling stand-ins for their IRL counterparts, they’ve since evolved into full-fledged experiences that offer things in-person events can’t. This, of course, is in large part thanks to the evolution of the metaverse, which has pushed virtual events from single-angled livestreams to fully immersive worlds. Now, events in the digital realm allow young consumers to interact with (avatars of) their favorite celebs, build things they couldn’t in the real world, hang out with friends, and much, much more. And while the metaverse is certainly the biggest marketing buzzword we’ve seen this year, it does present a huge opportunity for brands to interact with young consumers by creating events and experiences they actually want to attend. While brand events aren’t particularly popular, brand-sponsored events are—as long as they put entertainment first. In fact, 57% of young Europeans say they consider buying a video game an experience, not a material item, giving brands a major in-road to reaching these experience-driven gens—and proving that not all experiences have to be in-person to hold value.

YPulse Western Europe Business users can access the full WE Experiences behavioral report and data here.

Don’t have a YPulse Western Europe Business account? Find out more here.

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