Drinks trends for summer festival season

23 March, 2018

The summer festival season is fast approaching in the northern hemishpere and Zoe Brown, head of account management at BD Network gives her insights on what brands are doing to promote different drinks.

With the onset of the warm weather, for many of us north of the equator, it means we can finally enjoy a cold one outdoors. From back gardens to picnics in the park, one of the best places to enjoy a refreshing ice-cold drink is at a festival. When it comes to festivals, the nature of the industry is changing rapidly – now, more than ever, consumers are looking at the bigger picture and demanding a better all-round experience from the event itself, and from associated sponsors. 

Few consumer touchpoint opportunities offer themselves up on a plate in the way a music festival does. Where else can you find a predominantly young, captive, emotionally charged audience engaged in a shared social experience? But with an increasing number of brands attracted to the festival scene, marketers need to offer more than a branded deckchair area and a few promotional giveaways to have a lasting impact.

The culture around spirts and beer has changed a lot. It’s all about choice as consumers become savvier, more knowledgeable and want to experience something authentic. Besides tapping into the audience’s unquenchable thirst, it ultimately comes down to finding the right synergy between the brand and festival and then tailoring the brand experience to their expectations.

Spirit drinkers in particular are demanding more for their money and are hungry for brands that engage them across multiple touchpoints. The more adventurous spirits will concentrate on delivering experiences for consumers. Smirnoff, which debuted its Smirnoff House experience at Creamfields in 2016, is a great example of how the brand executed sampling in a creative way that worked for its target audience. The brand partnered with some of the biggest festivals across the UK to deliver the "ultimate house party" experience, which gave visitors the opportunity to see some of the best DJs the festival had to offer and even mix their own drinks at the bar. It was also a chance for Smirnoff to showcase its new brand, Smirnoff Ice Double Black with Guarana – a pre-mixed drink featuring Smirnoff vodka, soda and extracts of Guarana. The campaign not only brought to life the personality and substance of the brand with an exciting and engaging experience, which gelled with the tone of the festival itself, but also helped drive awareness.

This summer, rum (particularly dark and spiced variations) will be a defining trend and is even forecasted to outpace gin by 2020. This is partially due to the increase in availability of flavours and styles which has been phenomenal over the last few years. As one of the most diverse and versatile of spirits, rum can be perfectly blended with your favourite mixer, or shaken up in a summer cocktail, making it an ideal spirit for festivals.

While cocktails will continue to get more interesting, we can expect the experience to lose some of its formality with people gravitating to more casual and approachable cocktail experiences. This can be seen through the recent execution of London’s first prison-inspired cocktail bar – a themed Alcotraz pop-up bar. The immersive drinking experience literally involves being ordered by character guards to put on your orange jumpsuits, given an inmate number and then entering a cold metallic cell, making Alcotraz the perfect backdrop to enjoy a drink within an epic environment. Tying this back to the festival scene, finding enjoyable ways to elevate the attendee’s experience is crucial as consumers are now prepared to spend more money on these experiences over products. It’s therefore essential that brand partners at festivals ensure they are reaching their audience through well considered brand activations.

Keywords: smirnoff, BD Network

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