Morrisons has jumped on the festival bandwagon with the launch of MFest, a family-friendly festival that seeks to attract 15,000 visitors this summer. It follows in the footsteps of Sainsbury’s, which, after the success of Pandamonium in the Park last year, unveiled The jubilee Family Festival, attracting crowds of more than 200,000.
What strikes me as odd, though, is that tapping into local communities is high on both retailers’ strategic agendas, yet these festivals are national in reach, making the idea of ‘local’ seem highly notional.
I’m not sure this sort of large scale festival gives retailers the right kind of cut-through - Sainsbury’s must certainly be wondering in the wake of the negative feedback to queues and facilities at its festival.
Perhaps a better event strategy might be to host smaller, more localised events, which allow brands to derive many of the benefits of big festivals without the organisational headache.
It’s not a question of abandoning festivals. They are one of the only media platforms that allow retailers to create their own environment and experiences, just as they do in-store. Equally, with ambient media, it is hard to communicate the key benefits for the retailer such as the quality and diversity of the food and the dynamic shopping experience. Festivals can bring these to life through interactive food tastings, food courts and cooking demos.
However, it’s not just the size of these events that needs rethinking. From experience I know the drive to purchase from event to store can be extremely low. There must be a clear path from the festival to the store, making the conversion from attendee to loyal shopper as simple as possible. Events these days are also becoming more and more interlinked with social media.
Morrisons should be looking to engage people online and capturing their details so it can contact them. It could encourage consumers to online shopping through their smartphones. Alternatively, it could offer deals exclusively to festival goers such as limited-time-only offers, loyalty points, discounts, or coupons at till.