Background: Virus influences festival choice

Estimated reading time – 8 minutes

We are currently in turbulent times. The coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis is having a major impact on society. Despite this, festival organisers and the event sector as a whole, must start cautiously looking ahead. Proper insight is needed for this. Along with Treat’s Marcel Pantera, I have commenced research as a consequence of the column “Events in the post-coronavirus era. After two weeks of research the first tentative insights are on the horizon. Approximately one in three festival visitors state that the virus has impacted their choice of festival.  

Marcel Pantera and Denis Doeland explaining the background of ‘The big coronavirus survey’
(Dutch spoken with English subtitles)
Video with great thanks to We Are The Night TV.
Location support by ADAM Toren (Amsterdam, the Netherlands)
Translation by Paul Sparks of Bright Spark Media

Different types

The insights were gleaned from the answers of 1,680 Dutch participants. Various respondents stated that they expected we would delve deeper into the questions and that additional questions are required to gain comprehensive insights. We realise that the insights are in an early stage of the research, which is why we will run a subsequent survey in the short term. However, we will now share the initial, tentative, insights. But before we do this, a short recap. These are the five types gleaned from a previous interview I had with Pantera:

  1. The Fearful: I will stay at home for now. 
  2. The Cautious: I want to go but will do thorough research before I go and I want to know exactly who will attend, and what will happen.  
  3. The Relevant: I will attend, but I want to know how this event relates to my environment and my loved ones.  
  4. The Participant: I will only go if I can/may be part of the experience.  
  5. The FOMO party goer: I celebrate life, it’s all about fun.

The report

First generation-wide insights

Across the generations the view is that a third of the respondents belong to the Fearful and Cautious group. With 1 in 3 respondents, the coronavirus will influence their choice of which festival to attend. However, 81 percent will immediately attend a festival when permitted.

Approximately half (46 percent) believes that nothing will be the same as before. The going out experience has changed for 44 percent of the respondents. Forty- nine percent of respondents is of the opinion that going out has changed for the people in their circles, and for their friends. Significant differences between the various generations is visible. Please note: 88 percent of respondents are from generation X and Y. Generation Z is currently under represented in this survey with 2 percent. We display the various insights from the different generations separately.

Boomers and Lost generation conservative

Many babies were born after the war, so this generation formed a very large group in terms of numbers. Due to the fact that baby boomers have only ever experienced a rise in welfare, they could focus on self-development and enjoy the morality of freedom. Their children are the Generation X or Generation Y. Generation Y coined the term Boomer. 

The Lost generation entered the labour market during the Oil crisis until the early 1980s. For many, this meant that it was difficult to find work and they started out on benefits. This generation had to fight in the labour market against the Boomers above them. We have combined the results of these two generations (the Baby boomers and the Lost generation born in the period from 1945-1970).

The Boomers/Lost-generation remains unconvinced that everything will return to how it was. Only one third believes this. One in 3 will first wait 6 to 12 months before deciding to visit a festival or event.

“In the coronavirus era many people will make more conscious choices in the area of going out and festivals. Will it be safe to attend this event or this location? Can I justify my going out choices at home? From my target group analysis, it appears that visitors are becoming ever more critical. Organisations should therefore distinguish themselves better and become more relevant in additional areas for visitors. My tips: ensure certainty, genuine connections, participation possibilities, and offer more than simply entertainment.”


Generation X slightly more positive

The advent of the pill led to less babies being born, and because of this Generation X children (born in the period from 1971-1985) received more attention from their parents. Their lives were characterised by self-development and self-actualisation. Generation X is the first generation that completely bought into education. The internet was embraced by the wider public when this generation grew older.

Generation X is slightly more convinced than the Boomers/Lost generation that everything will return to how it was. Almost 40 percent are of this opinion. For more than 70 percent, the size of the festival or event does not affect their choice.

Generation Y misses festivals most

This generation (1986-2000) was born before the advent of the internet and grew up with it since the mid-90s. This means they are very well acquainted with the internet. These Millennials feel unique, self-assured and from a slightly more negative perspective, appear to be rather spoiled. Millennials want to be authentic, special and creative. They have learnt that anything is possible. This creates major expectations, causing excessive mental problems such as burn-out and anxiety disorders.

1 in 4 Millennials is a FOMO party goer. Millennials miss festivals and events most. Their own going out experience has changed, but they also see that through the people in their circles and through their friends. Almost 90 percent will immediately attend festivals and events when permitted.

Generation Z split over the influence of virus

Generation Z (2001-2015) has never known a world without the internet, therefore seeing the internet as self-evident. This generation is also called Digital Natives. This generation characterises itself by doing everything at the same time: Watching Netflix and listening to music simultaneously, or viewing YouTube videos while sending WhatsApp messages. This leads to excellent English language skills, communicating at a high level.

Generation Z is of the general consensus that it will never return to what it was. The generation appears to primarily consist of Relevant visitors. The question arising from this is whether they are influenced by the Boomers/Lost generation, and X and Y, where they originate from.

Out of all generations they are most convinced that the going out experience has changed for them, the people in their circles and their friends. Opinions are split when it concerns the influence of the virus on the choice of festival they attend. The same appears to be the case for when they are able to attend festivals and events again. Fifty percent will attend immediately, while 47 percent will wait for 6 to 12 months.

“It is extremely disappointing that the entire festival season has been written off. I encourage festival organisations to become even better acquainted with their fans during this time. Use data to gain insight into their wishes and fears. Now is unquestionably the time to keep communicating with fans and visitors, by organising digital festivals and sharing music, for example. Certainly, during the coronavirus crisis, organisations should be relevant and remain prominent in the lives of their fans.”


In summary

One thing is certain. Almost 95 percent of all participants in our survey miss attending festivals and events. Despite this, organisations, where primarily the older generations attend, should carefully take into consideration that possibly one in three of the Boomers/Lost generation and one in five of Generation X will not immediately return to their festivals and events. 

The Millennials appear to view it in a far more casual way. Only 13 percent say they will wait 6 to 12 months before they will attend festivals and events again. 86 percent will attend immediately when permitted. Organisers of festivals and events where primarily Generations X and Y attend must attentively bear in mind that 1 in 6 possibly will not attend immediately. Naturally, the result concerning festivals and events being missed is unsurprising, and a good sign for the sector. The need is clear! It is clear for festivals and events to now pay their visitors and fans the digital attention they deserve to ensure they do not forget their favourite festival or event when it is time to attend again.

Note: We realise that setting up a survey normally takes longer than the period that we took to set up this first survey. The research that is discussed above is intended to sketch an initial image of the possible impact of the coronavirus on the festival industry. During the survey, respondents stated that they require more in-depth questions and would like to see answers to other questions which were not featured in the survey. We expect that the coronavirus crisis will continue to have an effect on festivals and events for now. That is the reason why we will continue to carry out research with new or additional questions. We also want to share new insights regularly, and correlate these to previous research results.

Would you like additional information? The complete survey, including non-copyrighted images, can be found here ‘Data: Insights from the post-coronavirus survey’. In other articles Pantera shares tips about the post-coronavirus era and in this article Doeland shares his insights .

* Translation of the original Dutch article provided by Paul Sparks of Bright Spark Media.

Also read

Digital Assets

Including cases of Armin van Buuren, Hardwell, Sam Feldt and Spinnin’ Records

Digital Assets by Denis Doeland
The force, power and potential of the digital ecosystem
In this publication (38 chapters in different parts) of Business and Industry Hacker Denis Doeland you will read how you as in individual and/or your organisation can be different and better in the digital ecosystem. Denis shares his insights regarding a number of organisations and interesting people in his network.

Free ebook

EDM and the digital domain