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 love watching movies and shows uninterrupted.”—Female, 18, CO

Mattel just made the first hijab-wearing Barbie. She’s based on Ibtihaj Muhammad, who won the Olympic bronze medal for fencing for the U.S. while wearing a hijab. Brands are bringing diversity to the toy aisle to appease The Diversity Tipping Point generation’s appetite for inclusion, and this new doll is a step in the right direction. She gives girls a new role model and (in Muhammad’s words) encourages them "to embrace what makes them unique." Mattel has plans to create an entire line of Barbies based on inspirational women next year. (BBC)

Another ‘90s classic, Are You Afraid of the Dark, is coming to the big screen and revisiting Millennials’ childhood nightmares. Nostalgia entertainment is big business for the entertainment industry, who are hoping to capitalize on Millennials and Gen Z’s trademark wistfulness, and it doesn’t hurt that this screenplay for the remake is being written by It’s screenwriter. With horror proving it can bring in massive audiences these days, this mixture of dark content and nostalgia is a good bet to get them in theaters. (Collider)

Millennials are causing a “baby bust”—they aren’t having enough kids to keep the U.S. population at the “replacement level.” According to the Negative Population Growth Inc., the birth rate has dropped below the death rate, with women are having an average of just 1.8 births compared to the 2.1 needed to keep the population steady. The research blames all Millennials for the drop, reporting that “irth rates for all age groups of women under 30 fell to record lows in 2016.” (Washington Examiner)

Kellogg’s is coming back to NYC, with a bigger (and maybe better) cereal café than last year’s Times Square popup. The 5,000 square foot Union Square space will be a permanent place for Millennials to try crafty concoctions from Kellogg’s, who hopes getting the demo to rethink the product will keep Millennials from “killing” cereal as we know it. The company claims “It’ll be a destination for foodies and people to chill, create and explore the endless possibilities of cereal all in one place, whether it be for breakfast, lunch or a snack later in the day.” (CSA)

People are binging Netflix in public—at work, in line, and even on the toilet. A new study from Netflix found that 67% of viewers have watched a show or movie in public, 37% admit to tuning in at work, and 12% have pressed play in a public restroom. One in five have cried during a public streaming session, and 11% have seen a spoiler on another public streamer’s screen—but that’s not stopping them. The Binge Effect is real and bigger than ever: 60% of respondents said they binge more content than they did last year. (MashableMarkets Insider)

“I really enjoyed Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul does a really good job capturing the same intensity and intrigue that the original series did…”—Male, 28, NY

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