Survey: What Millennials Want From Branded Events

A new survey by Splash reveals how brands can attract Millennials to their events.

Millennials want good design, good swag and good memories, finds a new survey by Splash.
Millennials want good design, good swag and good memories, finds a new survey by Splash.

Slick websites, cool swag and all things social media-worthy. These are just some of what Millennials expect when they’re invited to a brand event, finds a new survey of 785 Milliennials around the globe conducted by Splash, a New York-based event-marketing automation platform.

“The smartest marketers are courting Millennials through experiential marketing,” Splash explained in an infographic summarizing its survey results. “From branded activations at music festivals to seasonal pop-up shops -- savvy brands understand the crucial link between events and brand loyalty.”

What they don’t understand, however, is how to exploit that link to its full potential. Enter Splash’s survey. Conducted this past December and published last month, the survey sought the answer to a seminal question facing modern-day event marketers: What do Millennials really want from brand events?

The first thing brands must understand, Splash found, is that Millennials equate event attendance with brand loyalty, as nearly a third (29 percent) said they consider attending an act of loyalty. Furthermore, 32 percent say they RSVP to brand events as soon as they receive the invite. These people are a company’s “brand besties,” according to Splash, and relationships with them must be cultivated well in advance of an event if their attendance is desired.

And speaking of RSVPs: Persistence pays off, according to Splash, which found that 9 percent of Millennials RSVP after the first reminder email, 4 percent after the second and 12 percent once they know their friends are attending; 28 percent of Millennials -- typically those who aren’t familiar with your brand -- RSVP in greater numbers as the event gets closer.

Millennials also revealed that for them, the event experience begins the moment they receive an invite; 40 percent said they won’t go to an event if the invite or event website is “ugly.”

If bad design repels them, you may wonder what attracts them: According to Splash, 73 percent said the topic, speaker, music or entertainment; 56 percent said networking opportunities and the chance to meet new people; 53 percent said free alcohol or food; 47 percent said free swag, and 24 percent said they attend just for “social media bragging rights.”

Because nearly half of respondents said they’re motivated by swag, Splash asked Millennials to share their favorite such piece. Answers included Beats earbuds and a years of free Spotify, a yodeling bottle opener, a Polaroid camera and film, and a jar of artisanal butter.

“Investing a little more in something useful, creative or novel is one of the best ways for your brand to stay on a Millennial’s radar (and out of the trash),” surmised Splash, which also asked respondents what was the coolest thing they remember about past brand events. Nineteen percent said the free stuff they got, 14 percent said an unexpected surprise concocted by the event organizer, 14 percent said an incredible performance, 10 percent said the photo ops, and 5 percent each said the drinks and the food.

Finally, Splash concluded that follow-up is key: 75 percent of Millennials said they expect a brand to notify them within two days about where and when event photos will be posted, and 92 percent said they’re open to receiving a personalized email offer, coupon or loyalty reward after an event.

“Don’t hesitate to apply loyalty program and behavioral targeting principles to your events,” Splash advised. “Not many brands do this, which is a huge missed opportunity.”