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A Sound Opportunity: How Brands Connect With Consumers at Summer Music Fests

3 minute read | June 2015

June has hit full-stride, and so has the summer music festival season. The Governors Ball in New York City got the month started, with Drake’s super tight pants almost breaking the Internet, which was quickly followed by Bonnaroo. The Firefly Music Festival kicks off this Thursday, and the Warped Tour begins its four-month stretch this week as well.

These events attract a large, youthful, audience: approximately 32 million people attend at least one U.S. music festival each year, 46% of whom are Millennials aged 18-34. So, which product categories do these festival fans favor, and what types of brands can benefit from sponsorships and tie-ins?

One big area of opportunity is in mobile and tech services. According to Nielsen’s Audience Insights Report: Festival Fans, 82% of festival attendees have a cell phone/smartphone. So it’s no surprise we’ll see cell phone brands and providers all over music festivals this summer. Though 41% have been with their mobile provider for four or more years, festival fans are 42% more likely to switch their service than the general U.S. population—especially for the latest technology. Similarly, festival attendees are more likely to use their mobile device for more than just staying in touch. In fact, festival fans are most likely to use their smartphones as their primary way to listen to music—74% use their smartphone to listen to music.

Festival fans are also 33% more likely than the average U.S. population to use their mobile for video messaging and 84% more likely to stream music through an app in a typical week.

But festival fans aren’t just amped up about music and technology. They rely on energy drinks to keep them hyped at festivals, as more than one-in-five consume energy drinks, 32% more than the average consumer. As for 21+ beverages, of-age event attendees are 13% and 4% more likely than the average American 21 and over to drink tequila and imported beers.

When it comes to clothing and shopping, festival fans like to look good—more than half (54%) have been to the mall in the last month. What are they shopping for? Casual apparel. Sneakers are popular overall among this group (24% have bought footwear in the past three months).

Finally, festival fans like to smell as nice as they look: 59% use perfume, with more using both liquid scents (19% more likely) and spray scents (10% more likely) than the general U.S. population.

What other opportunities are there for brands? Over 28% of festival fans either cannot attend a festival or have no current plans but would like to attend in the future—which means there are a substantial number of music fans who could be engaged outside the festival grounds.


The Audience Insights Report: Festival Fans identifies the target profile of the festival fan by utilizing Nielsen’s Music 360 U.S. study. This is a comprehensive in-depth look at consumer interaction with music in the U.S. The data for this study was collected in August and September of 2014 from 2,581 respondents. This data is then weighted to the U.S. Census population based on age, gender, race, education and household size. The Festival Fan profile is then constructed using those respondents, within the Music 360 study who expressed their intention to attend any one of the 35 fielded music festivals. Further Music 360 behavior as well as Simmons and MRI data is then tabulated against this custom target. (Festivals included: Coachella, SXSW, Electronic Daisy Carnival, Wango Tango, Warped Tour, Jingle Ball, iHeartRadio Music Festival, Burning Man, Spring Awakening Festival, Bonnaroo, Pitchfork, Summerfest, Sasquatch!, Mayhem Festival, Newport Folk Festival, Lollapalooza, Electric Zoo, Outside Lands, Rock the Bells, Bumbershoot, Made in America, Austin City Limits, CMJ Marathon, Voodoo Music Experience, OzzFest, Firefly Music Festival, CMA Music Festival, Ultimate Pool Party, Stagecoach, Essence Music Festival, Governor’s Ball, Ultra Music Festival, Hangout Music Fest, Country Thunder.)

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