Festival-goers to spend €253m attending Irish music festivals this year
Attendees spend most on festival accommodation
Heineken most recognised music festival sponsor
Livewire and Ignite conducted research this week into music festivals and it showed that almost one third, or just over 1 million Irish adults have attended a music festival at some point in their lives, with three quarters of those adults intending to attend a festival in 2017. Interestingly, this compares very favourably with the other stalwart of the Irish Summer; the GAA All Ireland Championships. The 2016 Championship saw attendances of 1.3 million at both football and hurling matches, including replays (Source: GAA Annual accounts 2016).
What can sponsors learn from our research?
The average festival goer will spend €316 in the lead up to and during music festivals this year, including tents, clothing, food, and alcohol.
- Festival goers are loyal, passionate music fans; over 40% of festival attendees say that the music is the best part of their weekend
- Less than 5% of Irish festival goers believe that drinking alcohol is the best thing about a festival – in contrast nearly a quarter say that drunk people are the worst thing about the experience.
- More than a quarter of adults who regularly attend festivals stated that weather is the worst thing about festivals in Ireland. This is further borne out with a third of festival goers naming a raincoat, closely followed by a waterproof tent as their most essential items for a festival. 20% pointed to using the toilets when asked what was the worst thing about attending music festivals in Ireland.
Electric Picnic is by far the most popular festival in Ireland, with 32% of all respondents who identify themselves as festival goers saying that they have previously attended the Electric Picnic festival at some stage in their lives, while 22% surveyed said that they plan to attend this year’s event, due to take place in Stradbally in September.
Ireland’s second favourite festival is Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, with 22% of respondents saying that they have attended the annual traditional music festival. Other popular Irish festivals included the Punchestown Festival (15%), Longitude (14%) and Sea Sessions (12%).
The average Irish festival goer will spend an average of €316 in the lead up to and during festivals in 2017, including tickets tents, clothing, food and alcohol. With almost a quarter of Irish adults intending to attend a festival this year, that amounts to an additional €253m in revenue generate by music festivals in 2017. With most festivals happening over three days & the average cost of an Irish hotel room alone rising to €100, the cost of attending a festival actually compares favourably with the cost of a domestic weekend away. Age and gender has little effect on money spent; those under 35 spend slightly more than their older counterparts (€230 on average compared with €220 for those over 35). Regionally, festival attendees living in Ulster and Connacht are the nation’s biggest spenders, on average spending €430.
Our research highlights that a third of festival goers spend the most money on accommodation for a festival, including tents and camping equipment, with a further third spending most on food and 20% of attendees stating that their largest spend was on alcohol. This shifts when we look at spend by gender – outlay on alcohol rises to almost a third for men, with just 15% of women stating that it’s their biggest spend. For women, the biggest proportion of their spend is on food and accommodation.
Interestingly, Irish festival goers feel that they keep a reign on their finances at festivals as 40% disagree with the statement ‘I spend too much money at festivals’.
Music & Loyalty
75% or 803,556 adults, of those who have previously attended a music festival intend to attend a festival in 2017. Brands looking to engage with music fans attending a festival must lay claim to credibility in music and add value to the festival experience through onsite installations which fit seamlessly into the environment. It may seem obvious to say but, when it comes to reaching this audience, music matters.
Festival goers are loyal and passionate music fans; over 40% of festival attendees say that the music is the best part of their weekend – more than three quarters attend a festival at least every two years. If a brand is hoping to reach this audience, they must do so with a credible voice and in a way which adds value to the fan’s experience.
Surprisingly less than one third of attendees use their mobile phones at a festival, which suggests that on the ground activations in the festival arenas and campsites are the most effect way for sponsors to speak directly to festival goers.
Of those who do use their phones, Facebook is the most popular app, which should also inform sponsorship activation strategies.
Our research suggests a changing attitude from the festival-going public towards alcohol and provides a number of key learnings for sponsors.
Less than 5% of Irish festival goers believe that drinking alcohol is the best thing about a festival – in contrast nearly a quarter say that drunk people are the worst thing about the experience.
Savvy sponsors, like Heineken, know that sponsorship of a music festival isn’t about persuading consumers to buy more alcohol; rather it’s an exercise in creating reasons for festival goers to love their brand. Heineken has achieved this masterfully through its many music platforms and instillations; we’d argue that no other brand can lay claim to such strong credibility in music.
This activity is now no longer restricted to traditional beer brands; Heineken’s recent promotion of its zero-alcohol product at the Monaco Grand Prix highlights that light and alcohol-free brands are now making a play for the hearts and minds of consumers through sponsorship.
While the public’s relationship with alcohol may be changing, alcohol brands are still most associated with festival sponsorship.
Brands Associated with Music Festival Sponsorship
- Electric Ireland
Heineken’s performance can be attributed to a long-standing association with music in Ireland, from Oxegen to its current Sound Atlas platform at Electric Picnic.Guinness’ strong performance – despite not having an active sponsorship of any major festival – is testament to the strength of their activation of previous partnerships such as Witnness and Arthur’s Day; the halo effect has lasted long after its sponsorship have ceased.
The worst thing about attending festivals in Ireland? Weather & Toilets
Unsurprisingly for a nation completely obsessed by weather, 27% of adults who regularly attend festivals stated that weather is the worst thing about festivals in Ireland. This is further borne out with a third of festival goers naming a raincoat, closely followed by a waterproof tent were their most essential items for a festival. This highlights an opportunity for sponsors to add value by using engaging activations to alleviate this pressure point, something we have seen Red Bull do at festivals in New Zealand to great effect.
20% of festival goers of both sexes cited using the toilets as the worst thing about attending a festival. This may not be the most glamourous part of a weekend festival, but it remains an area that really matters to consumers, thus it offers an enticing opportunity for brands to positively impact upon this target audience.
About the study: The study was conducted with a nationally representative sample of 1,000 people between 19-25 May 2017. Of this 1,000 people, 297 defined themselves as festival goers.