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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“My work schedule can be hectic, so I snack on nuts, berries, or other non-deadly foods during any downtime.”

—Male, 32, KY

AwesomenessTV and fashion/beauty brands are coming together to make branded series for Gen Z. In the past, AwesomenessTV has worked with numerous brands to produce original content, including CoverGirl and Kohl’s. Now they’re planning a 24-part docu-series with Hollister called “This is Summer,” following teens’ high school journeys—while they’re clad in shoppable Hollister clothing of course. Our own Chief Content Officer explains that Ypulse has “found Gen Z to be fairly open to watching sponsored entertainment,” with 77% of 13-17-year-olds agreeing, "As long as the story is interesting, I don't mind that it is sponsored." (Glossy)

Fullscreen agrees that Gen Z is the generation that’s most receptive to branded content. Their survey found over half of Gen Z doesn’t mind even undisclosed branded content, and significantly more Gen Z teens than Millennials have engaged with social branded content (viewing photos, liking and sharing content and tagging friends) in the past six months. Influencer marketing wins out with the group, with over half of teens preferring influencer content to pre-roll, sponsored posts, banners, and traditional TV commercials. The sweet spot for advertisers may be branded video, especially when influencers are involved. (TubefilterAdweek)

Graduation spending is expected to reach a record $5.6 billion for the Class of 2017. Over half of the graduation gifts given will be cash, followed by greeting cards, gift cards, apparel, and electronic devices. Another trend for the year is more and more peers giving each other gifts, with a 6% lift year over year. Younger consumers will spend an average of $78.42 ,compared to 45-54-year-olds’ $119.84 and 65-and-over’s $112.34, and while greeting cards are also most popular, they’re also almost twice as likely to gift clothing. (ConsumerAffairs)

Instagram has the “most negative impact on young people’s mental wellbeing,” followed by Snapchat, according to a recent study. The image-centric platforms could “driv[e] feelings of inadequacy and anxiety,” and were rated the most poorly for their impacts on sleep, FOMO, and body image. Out of the top five most popular social media platforms, YouTube was the only one that earned a positive score. The silver lining? Some argue the evaluation is “blaming the medium for the message,” and social media/online communities are also Gen Z and Millennials’ top resource for learning about “mindfulness, meditation, and wellness,” according to Ypulse data. (The Guardian)

Lego is being called the “most powerful brand in the world,” beating out Google, Visa, and Nike. Brand Finance’s latest valuation report shows Lego’s brand value increased 68% over last year, looking at metrics like “familiarity, loyalty, promotion, marketing investment, staff satisfaction and corporate reputation.” At least some of the lift can be attributed to the successful movie franchise (The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie) and its strategic partnership with Star Wars.

(Business Insider)

“I kind of don't like the commercialization of fandom culture…However, creating licensed products is one way a brand could interact.”

—Male, 24, MO

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