Flashback to 20 years ago: American Express wants to cause a stir. So it signs Jerry Seinfeld, fresh from his epic sitcom run, to put together a few clever TV ads and calls it a day. Big-name celebrity sells, and this straightforward partnership is lucrative for both parties.
Not anymore. Flash-forward to today: MasterCard wants to build its brand. So it creates the Priceless Surprises campaign, makes Gwen Stefani, Usher, and Pharrell Williams the faces of it, and offers experience-based rewards, including a chance at backstage passes to see Justin Timberlake.
This campaign is not only successful, but it also garners MasterCard a 2015 CLIO Gold Award.
The increased complexity of MasterCard’s marketing strategy and the type of notable people involved — musicians — are neither an accident nor mere happenstance. Three trends are converging to make brand-sponsored music and artists a must-do for brands that want to stay relevant: the rise of Millennials as a purchasing powerhouse, their passion for consuming music, and the ubiquity of smartphones.
Millennials: An ideal music market
Don’t underestimate Millennials. People ages 18 to 34 are your customers, and there are a lot of them — 75.3 million, to be precise. That’s nearly one-fourth of the U.S. population, and they wield $200 billion in buying power annually. And let’s not forget about Generation Z, which is fast approaching as the next influential generation.
One of the best ways into their hearts and minds is through their headphones. Music is still the preferred source of entertainment for Americans. It permeates our lives from the moment we wake up to the time we go to sleep. But how we experience our music is changing.
As of last year, more than 85 percent of Millennials owned a smartphone, which means they have constant access to on-demand streaming. Whether it’s their own music stored in the cloud, internet radio, or music videos on YouTube, they listen to more than 24 hours of music per week, on average.
Of course, this fragmentation of the music industry makes it harder for a single artist to grab the same level of attention that was possible in the past, which puts brands in the perfect position to facilitate unique, transformative experiences between fans and artists.
With the advent of social media and the direct-to-fan access that has developed, fans want to interact and be a part of artists’ lives and creative processes. Brands create this connection by empowering consumers to create content, enter competitions, and become a part of the experience. This directly lends to events such as festivals, which grant exposure for artists and lifelong memories for fans. With the right partnership and alignment, both will attribute those positive experiences to the brand partner.
Think Millennials are too savvy to be swayed by such marketing? A recent study found that Millennials who had a branded live-music experience were absolutely influenced by it. They were 55 percent more likely to trust the brand, 46 percent more likely to purchase from the brand, and 62 percent more likely to recommend it, compared to Millennials who did not attend a live branded event.
This phenomenon is supported by scientific studies that show that music engages the brain and disposes it to favorable perceptions of whatever that music is advertising — an attitude that’s passed along to the brand itself.
In other words, this music-brand partnership stuff really works.
Exponential growth in music marketing
Savvy brands are already onto the music trend. In 2015, brands spent $1.4 billion on music sponsorship, up nearly 5 percent from 2014.
That spending is across many industries — even automobile companies and hotel chains. Brands unwilling to embrace the music trend and reap the rewards of customer trust and loyalty that it generates will be left behind. Even brands like Uber are getting in on the action.
Whether by earning concert tickets for buying Pepsi, seeing music lyrics on cans of Sprite, or getting special on-stage seats at a Lady Gaga concert sponsored by Absolut, fans are enjoying the results of brands and artists joining together.
The future looks brighter than ever with new technology, the openness of brands, and the creativity of artists. However, the key is going beyond the call and bridging the gap by utilizing music to create novel experiences between fans and artists.
Everyone wins — except those who are aren’t playing.
First Published at iMediaConnection