The 3 Biggest Marketing Trends Out of SXSW 2017

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

Experiencification ruled the festival, but branded experiences come in all shapes and sizes...

The latest SXSW is a wrap, and though big brands are not treating the festival as the free-for-all, big-budget marketing bonanza they have in years past (which many feel is a good thing) the event is still considered to be “the most valuable weekend of the year.” Forbes calls it the “best brain food”—which might be the best way for other brands to view the event. Because marketing at SXSW is targeting a hyper-engaged audience of industry insiders, it’s often a creative-cut-above-the-rest, and can serve as inspiration for others.

Throwing just any event at SXSW is not enough to generate buzz—even for the biggest brands. (Just look at Apple Music’s concert.) Experiences have to be eye-catching, unique, sharable, and over-the-top creative to gain traction beyond the Austin streets and make enough of an impression to be shared. Take Casper, one of the marketing stars of SXSW this year: the brand upped the ante on their 2016 “Napmobile” activation, taking over the hotel with The Standard’s One:Night app and turning it into the ultimate nap destination. Attendees could reserve “Refresh Rooms” complete with Casper’s mattresses, Tesla slippers, milk and cookie snacks, and even a tuck-in and bedtime story from an on-site “mom,” if requested. As evidenced by the buzz the stunt generated, experiencification was once again the fuel of the stand-out campaigns of the festival. But branded experiences come in all shapes and sizes, and this year we saw three major experience/immersion themes emerge from the days of the fest. Here are the biggest marketing trends of SXSW 2017:

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

Escape rooms emerged a few years ago as a unique group experience that Millennials helped turn into a lasting trend,…

 
 

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The Newsfeed

“I honestly wouldn't like to communicate with brands, unless it is to solve problems their brand is causing.”—Female, 27, MI

Why don’t people seem to care as much about fake followers on Instagram as on other platforms? Because while Facebook and Twitter are bashed for feeds full of fake news, no one holds Instagram to the same standard. The image-centric platform is inherently “a hyperreality,” where no one’s candid shot is truly spontaneous, and photo-shop freely fills feeds. Where does it get tricky? With Influencers, who are expected to garner true engagements for brands. (Real Life)

Influencer marketing faced another tricky situation this week when PopSugar replaced influencers’ affiliate links with their own. RewardStyle and its Instagram product LikeToKnow.it’s network of content creators’ photos and sometimes entire feeds “were copied to the site via “thousands of ‘falsified vanity pages’ containing millions of images belonging to the network’s content creators.” The group is planning on seeking a class-action lawsuit on their intellectual property and for the lost revenue that PopSugar made each time a customer clicked to purchase. (Racked)

Colleges are giving out more merit-based aid to win over top students. Tuition discount rates have risen to a record 49.1% for first-time, full-time freshman attending private universities, up over 10% from ten years prior—according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers. By using data-driven analysis to calculate just how much aid is likely to lure a top student in, colleges are seeing success upping their prestige. However, the practice has also “created a closing of the doors for low-income students,” according to one policy analyst. (WSJ)

Apple is betting that young consumers could bring back magazines via a magazine subscription service. The tech company took a gamble by buying Texture, a subscription service for over 200 titles that’s been dubbed the “Netflix of Magazine Publishing.” The app aggregates articles into a single browsing experience, rather than being separated by title, and pays the included publications. Apple has announced plans to integrate the service into their Apple News app, the latest incarnation of their less-than-successful Newsstand app. (Bloomberg)

Function of Beauty is customizing hair care, blending up shampoo and conditioner for each customer based off a five-question quiz. Beauty companies big and small have hopped on the Customization Nation trend, and Function of Beauty takes that to the next level with their hyper-personalized hair care set. They're customizing everything from the fragrance to the chemical components, and even going so far as to print the purchaser’s name on each product. The founder explains, "Every single person is unique and different...why negate that instead of catering to it?" (Paper)

“[Allison Raskin] is open about her struggles with mental health, and she is also funny.”—Female, 19, CA

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