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Marketing Insights: Food, Wine and Beer Festivals Feed Millennials' Desire to Gather—and Liquidate Their Discretionary Income

Summer has arrived, and the festival season is now booming—which opens up a variety of marketing and communications opportunities for food and beverage purveyors and suppliers. Even better, engaging festival attendees allows for opportunities far beyond sales at the events—it’s a chance to build genuine brand loyalty with this large and influential audience, particularly Millennials. Global ticketing and events marketplace Eventbrite recently released new research that illuminates Millennials’ behaviors and preferences around food, wine and beer festivals.

The study, Millennials and the New Era of Food, Wine & Beer Festivals, offers valuable insights for food purveyors, wineries and breweries seeking to capitalize on a fundamental industry shift towards events that are catering specifically to the interests of the largest generation. Key findings include:

Millennials are Willing to Pay More for Exclusive Experiences
Ticket price tops their list of considerations when choosing to attend festivals and they are willing to pay more for a great experience: around half of Millennials are willing to spend $36-50 per ticket to a food and beverage festival with only three percent opting to attend an event because it is free. Forty percent agree that they are willing to pay an additional fee for an exclusive experience at a festival, such as VIP tent access or opportunity to meet the food purveyors, winemakers or brewers behind the event. Featured entertainment is also a key factor,with 60% saying they are more likely to attend a food, wine, or beer festival if it includes live music as part of the experience.

Festivals Successfully Drive Millennial Purchasing Behavior 
Millennials are more likely to purchase a product they have tried at a food or beverage festival and more than half say they are likely to stock up on food, wine, or a beer they loved at the festival if it’s sold onsite. The impact on purchasing behavior lasts well beyond the event: 60% of Millennials say they will buy a food or wine they loved at a local retailer or restaurant after the festival, and 82% say they will frequently or always buy a beer they loved at a local retailer.

Food, Wine and Beer Festivals Satiate Millennials’ Highly-Experiential Nature
Nothing brings Millennials together better than the chance to bond over a glass of beer or wine, or share delicious food, as evidenced by the 80 percent of millennials surveyed who said they attended three or more food, wine, or beer events in the past 12 months, and the nearly half who attended five or more. Festivals in particular give Millennials an opportunity to combine their love of unique live experiences with their passion for quality food and drink and more than 90% want to attend a big festival, regardless of whether they feature food, wine, or beer. For this highly-experiential generation, going to a festival is about being part of the social scene (45%) and nearly two-thirds feel they’ve missed out if they see photos of friends at a festival nearby that they didn’t attend.

Festivals Effectively Convert Millennials into Vocal Brand Advocates
Millennial festivalgoers are eager to spread their brand loyalty: an incredible 99% are likely to recommend a product they tried onsite to friends and family. They are also more inclined to visit one or more of the food purveyors, wineries or breweries they encountered at a festival and often bring friends and family; 95% are likely to visit a restaurant, food shop, or farm they discovered at a festival; 86% will visit one of their preferred wineries from the event; and 91% are likely to visit a brewery they liked.

Millennials also wield valuable social currency: 65% reported they are likely to follow a winery they encountered and liked at a wine festival; 75% say they are likely to follow a brewery from a beer festival they attended; and 79% are likely to follow a food purveyor or restaurant on a social network after experiencing what they had to offer at a food festival.

Younger Millennials Seek More Variety 
The younger Millennial subset, ages 18-25, are often even more experiential than their older counterparts and always looking for something extra from their events. For wine festivals, two out of three young millennials prefer events with multiple themes, such as an art-and-wine or film-and-wine festival. When choosing events to attend, 63% of young Millennial beer festivalgoers place more emphasis on whether the festival highlights seasonal themes like Oktoberfest or St. Patrick’s Day and nearly half who attend food festivals say they prefer events that feature a celebrity chef.

"Millennials, more than any other generation, actively seek unique, live experiences in which they can explore their passion for food, wine and beer—all while surrounded by friends," said Christine Bohle, head of consumer partnerships for Eventbrite, in a news release. "If you’re in the food and beverage industry, these events are an effective way to attract a new generation of highly-influential consumers to your brand."

Download the complete study here.

Eventbrite, which experienced a 47% year-over-year increase in food and beverage events from 2013-2014, surveyed more than 5,000 Millennial attendees of food, wine or beer festivals ticketed on the platform during 2014.

Source: Eventbrite; edited by Richard Carufel

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