Dubbed “the Super Bowl of Instagram advertising”, Coachella is a melting pot of experiential marketing, exclusive parties, and branded events that everyone wants to be part of.
Year after year, thousands descend upon Indio, California to attend Coachella — a place where creativity and music merge with influencer marketing and Instagram showreels.
Over the years, we’ve seen some great marketing trends pop up on Instagram, from Coachella’s sponsors, brand party hosts, influencers, and attendees alike. Here are some of the best trends to inspire your next campaign.
Why Brands Want to be Seen at Coachella
Coachella is all about experiential marketing, especially for millennials. With close to 100,000 people walking through the gates each year, a huge portion of Coachella’s typical attendees fit nicely within the millennial age bracket, with a higher than average spending power.
And with a reputation of being ‘the place to be seen’, Coachella ticket holders are more than happy to share their experience online — at the time of publishing this post, there are 5.1M posts on Instagram tagged with #coachella.
And that’s not even accounting for the multiple branded hashtags event sponsors and brands have used in the past. For example, Amex asked their brand ambassadors to use the #AmexLife hashtag to spread awareness about the exclusive perks available to American Express members during the festival in 2018.
Because Coachella is all about the experience, brands can be very creative when it comes to the type of marketing campaign they roll out in the days, weeks, or even months leading up to the big weekend.
It’s reported that American Express reached an audience of nearly 15.3 million and gained nearly 140,000 likes and over 400 comments across the campaign.
That’s a whole lot of potential customers and spokespeople for your brand or businesses. Plus, it’s worth noting that marketing your brand at Coachella is not just marketing to the people who walk through the festival gates.
With social media marketing, you’re able to reach out to an audience that physically can’t be there, but want to enjoy living out the experience through social media.
By creating compelling Instagram content during the event, you’re able to convincingly market, and sell your product by tapping into a physically absent, but highly engaged audience!
We’re rounding up our favorite past Coachella trends and pinning them to our mood board for future collaborations, events, and social inspiration:
Coachella Trends #1: Fashion Takes a Backseat for Tech
Over the years, we’ve seen many tech brands step into the spotlight while fashion skirts the sidelines.
In 2019, taking inspiration from Coachella’s high fashion roots, Bose brought an audio augmented reality experience to Coachella Valley with Bose Frames!
Bose worked to enhance the official Coachella smartphone app with new features specifically made for Bose AR — the world’s first audio augmented reality platform.
The integration meant festival-goers could unlock exclusive audio content while wearing Bose Frames — it was the first time Bose Frames and Bose AR were integrated into a music festival, and people seemed to love it.
Another tech giant, HP, presented their very own “tech lounges” where festival-goers could come try out their new products (while also getting some much-needed air conditioning!).
We’re expecting to see a lot more tech-focused branded collaborations coming up in Instagram marketing.
Coachella Trends #2: Dedicated Spaces for the Perfect Instagram Shot
Apart from what stage you need to be at and at what time, the main thing on a Coachella attendee’s mind is getting the best shot for Instagram.
And that’s why brands are going above and beyond to provide the perfect backdrop, beyond the iconic Coachella Ferris wheel!
On top of events and tents from brands like Absolut Planet and Heineken House, other brands choose to work their aesthetic both inside and outside the festival grounds to help promote their brand (and help their followers get the perfect shot!).
Of course, we can’t discuss Coachella’s Insta-worthy backdrops and top trends without mentioning Instagram’s first-ever branded house experience, Desert Chill House in 2019.
Instagram partnered with artist D’ana Nunez of COVL (Craft Onward Versatility and Lifestyle) to create a number of incredible murals, pools, and creative backdrops — the invite-only house called Instagram Desert Chill was the place to be!
The 1970s-styled experience took inspiration from the desert landscape to create abstract Western motifs. Made up of 26 individual shapes, the collection came together to create a colorful desert set held in a secret estate off the festival grounds.
On a slightly smaller scale, YSL created a beauty pop up site that mimics a gas station where you can play with makeup vending machines and try on different YSL beauty looks with its virtual mirror!
With in-person brand activations put on hold and product launches moving to the digital space, it’s still worthwhile creating the perfect virtual backdrop for your attendees.
Looking for some fresh virtual event ideas to spice up your Instagram marketing campaign this year? Check out 5 ways you can host a virtual event for your business.
Coachella Trends #3: Influencers, Influencers, Influencers
Coachella is equally about the influencers as it is about the artists. Influencers have a ton of reach and brands and businesses are beginning to take advantage of this, especially during Coachella season.
When an influencer visits your booth or attends your branded event, you are potentially exposing your product or business to hundreds if not thousands of new potential customers.
Private influencer events are no stranger to Coachella. Let’s take Revolve for example.
Take a look at how they go all out with Revolve Festival — a week-long, influencer-packed event filled with fashion, beauty and surprise music sets!
The event is strictly invite-only and the exact location is revealed only for those with a confirmed RSVP!
In 2019, #RevolveFestival was marketed as a “before Coachella” party. Exclusive to only 130 influencers, it was the place to be for celebrity musicians, fashion models, and DJs.
Not only was the event a smash in person but it also created a viral buzz. In 2019, the hashtag #RevolveFestival was the second most used brand hashtag, with #Coachella in the number one spot.
Another Coachella trend is offering free clothing or clothing discounts to influencers who are attending the event. Think about if an influencer posts their Coachella Day 1 outfit with your brand tagged, hello engagement!
Coachella Trends #4: Experiential Marketing Takes the Lead
Experiential marketing is a quickly growing trend for brands and businesses looking to expand their audience, but at Coachella, hosting an experiential event is key!
The theory behind experiential marketing is when you promote or market a product through experiences that engage the customer, it creates an emotional attachment to the product or service, so you gain a more loyal following.
According to Eventbrite, ‘experiences’ trump ‘things’ for millennials, as 3 in 4 (78%) would choose to spend money on a desirable experience or event over buying something desirable.
So an experiential event at Coachella seems like the perfect pairing!
From #RevolveFestival hosting the biggest party outside of Coachella, to the NYX and Pantene beauty lounges, there are branded experiences all over the valley!
We’ve seen brands like Calvin Klein host experiential marketing events like the #MYCALVINS House — the pop-up event hosted to let festival-goers recreate shareable photo moments from the brand’s Spring 2019 campaign starring Shawn Mendes, Noah Centineo, Kendall Jenner, and A$AP Rocky!
Coachella Trends #5: Giveaways and Brand Collaborations Take Centre Stage
According to a Nielsen study, 76% of festival attendees feel more favorably toward brands that sponsor a concert or tour.
So you can understand why so many brands and businesses want to be seen at Coachella, but sponsoring the festival or hosting exclusive events at Coachella come at a hefty price.
Over the years, we’ve seen more brands collaborate — potentially to share the cost but also to share their audience base and target more followers.
For example, Levi’s teamed up with Australian skincare brand Bondi Sands to sponsor the desert event Neon Carnival.
Another way to bring in a larger audience is by offering some sort of giveaway either in-person or on your social media. For example, American Express offered festival go-ers a number of perks like free passes for custom t-shirts and hats, exclusive invites, and free rides on the iconic Coachella ferris wheel.
If you’re looking to host a special event, or create a buzz around your next product launch, consider collaborating with another brand or Instagram profile that complements your business.
Not only will you be able to team up to share skills and costs, but you’ll also be reaching a new audience you might not have had access to before!
From branded collaborations, to once in a lifetime exclusive events, Coachella has it all. And for brands and businesses around the world, it’s a hotbed of inspiration for future marketing campaigns!