Eventbrite, the global ticketing and events marketplace, surveyed more than 5,000 millennial attendees of food, wine and beer festivals ticketed via the platform in 2014.
It found that festivals represent a lucrative forum for creating brand enthusiasts, as festival goers are more likely to purchase products they have tried at food and beverage festivals. More than half said they would be likely to stock up on a wine or beer sold on-site if they tried and liked it.
The impact on purchasing behaviour continues well after the event too, according to the research. 60% of millennials said that if they loved a wine after trying it at a festival, they would buy it at a local retailer or restaurant after the event, while 82% said they would frequently buy a beer at a these locations after trying and liking it at a festival.
Festival goers are also eager to spread their brand loyalty: 99% said they were likely to recommend a product they tried on-site to friends and family.
For beverage manufacturers, Christine Bohle, head of consumer partnerships at Eventbrite, said events are an effective way of attracting this generation of consumers - who represent one third of the total US population - to their brands.
“By giving millennials something to talk about with their friends, both on- and offline, you can create brand enthusiasts who will come back event after event, and seek out your products at all times in between,” she told BeverageDaily.
Big brands have some convincing to do
However, for big beverage brands, engaging consumers might mean winning their trust first.
“What’s critical to remember is that this generation highly values authenticity and is slower to trust big brand marketing,” Bohle said. “Millennials in general are more likely to appreciate locally sourced products and ingredients and are less trusting of big corporations than any other generation.”
Therefore, she suggested that beverage manufacturers, wineries and breweries looking to connect with millennial consumers at festivals might consider “granting them a peek at what goes on behind the logo.”
This recommendation is backed up by the survey, which found that 55% of millennials attended a beer festival specifically to meet the people behind the brewery.
Showing a charitable side
Millennials are also looking for an ethical dimension to brands, according to Bohle.
“Millennials want to give their money to a company that stands for more than the bottom line,” she said.
To attract these socially-aware millennials, beverage manufacturers, breweries and wineries could consider partnering with a local charity for their next festival or event, or hosting a donation booth, she suggested.
Valuable social currency
Once an offline connection has been made, beverage manufacturers need to make sure they are engaging with these consumers online too; the study found that 80% of millennials are likely to follow a winery or brewery from a festival they have attended.
“Social media is the best way to reach this audience, with the majority of millennials finding out about festivals via social media channels,” said Bohle.