SXSW 2018: The 3 Biggest Takeaways For Brands

Millennial research, Millennial insight, Millennial marketing, Gen Z research, Gen Z marketing, Gen Z insight, youth research, youth marketing

We looked at the top trends coming out of SXSW to see how brands can stay current with young consumers today…

SXSW may be losing scale, but the festival still presents a huge opportunity for brands to build affinity with young consumers seeking out experiential marketing. Not only does the event let companies connect with the top creatives across industries to test out their newest campaigns and products, but social media lets any Instagram-worthy activation spread like wildfire across the web. And that's just what they did. Shows took center stage again, with the iconic red robes from The Handmaid’s Tale acting as art installations around Austin and Westworld’s immersive activation capturing imaginations (and making headlines). Tech brands also took top marks, like HP’s Digital Artistry House, which drew in “over 5,000 visitors,” according to Adweek.

This year, SXSW had a bit of a reckoning though. In the Post-Woke World, every industry, event, and brand has had to adapt to young consumers’ demand for diversity and equal representation. The topics discussed at panels showed that SXSW did their best to meet those demands, covering everything from the #metoo movement to political discourse and social media platforms’ failure to weed out fake news. In 2017, we focused on experiential, trendy activations but this year our first takeaway takes on the tough topics…

Millennial research, Millennial insight, Millennial marketing, Gen Z research, Gen Z marketing, Gen Z insight, youth research, youth marketing1. The Future Is Female For Brands, Too

SXSW stepped up to the plate by showing that Silicon Valley can move away from its notorious “tech bro” culture, and conferences across industries can do the same. Keynote speakers were evenly split between men and women, and there were "notably more women and gender-focused sessions than in prior years,” according to one source (as reported by Adweek). CES drew fire for failing to do…


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Quote of the Day: “Retail should be a facilitator for experience, rather than just selling product.”—Sharmandean Reid, Founder, Wah Nails London (YPulse)

Millennials seeking portable booze are cracking open canned wine. Even though the category still only accounts for less than 1% of the Millennial-favorite alcoholic beverages’ market, Nielsen reports it spiked 69% last year and continues to gain ground. An exec at Delicato Family Wines explains, “Millennials have grown up in a world where consuming wine outdoors—or any location outside of the traditional table—is more acceptable than generations past.” (Wine Spectator)

Summer camps are cropping up to teach kids how to become YouTubers. At I-D Tech Camps, Level Up, and Star Camps, kids can learn all about how to, as the latter puts it, “Become an Internet sensation.” They offer courses in how to create and post videos, from shooting clips to editing audio, and how to build their personal brand. But don’t worry, most are framing YouTubing as a hobby, not a career, and setting kids’ expectations accordingly. (WSJ)

A new bill could change the free-to-play profit model that’s made games like Fortnite top earners. Senators have proposed the official ban of “loot boxes,” or items that players can buy (and sometimes must buy) to win a video game, often gambling on what’s inside. Senator Ed Markey explains that “Inherently manipulative game features that take advantage of kids and turn play time into pay time should be out of bounds.” For some, this will eliminate a key revenue stream and open the door to review other in-game purchases.  (The Verge)

A social media overhaul upped Corn Nuts’ sales by 12%—with no paid support.The snack’s sales were stagnant before a new exec took over their Twitter, infusing it with the personable tone food brands have become known for (and sometimes notorious for). Since then, followers spiked from 650 to 21,000, and what they’re calling a “scrappy” strategy “absolutely translated to sales,” reporting that retail sales spiked 12% and Millennials’ repeat purchases rose the same percentage. (Marketing Dive)

The retail apocalypse continues, with 7,000 more stores closing their doors in 2019. CoStar Group estimates that the square footage of retail space closed has topped its own record each year since 2017, and this year they’re “predicting more of the same.” PayLess ShoeSource, Gymboree, Dressbarn, and Charlotte Russe lead the list of number stores planned to shutter this year, as retailers learn to scale down size and up Experiencification for young shoppers. (Business Insider

Quote of the Day: “It’s a really interesting time at the moment in catalog [music]…Sometimes, it’s a question of how we make something out of nothing.”—Tim Fraser-Harding, President, Global Catalogue, Recorded Music at Warner Music Group (Rolling Stone)

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