Coachella Music and Arts Festival - Trendsetting Amongst The Palm Trees

Our influencer expert and resident hip-hop enthusiast Vanessa Condemi made the cultural pilgrimage of a lifetime to this year’s most snap-worthy, superstar filled music event. Here she shares with us her takeouts on the consumer experience and which brands did it best…

Trekking through the dusty campgrounds through to the festival site is akin to entering an alternate universe. One where the dirt, grime and overwhelming heat no longer matters because you’re at Coachella, the Coachella. 2017 was the  year where everything lined up to tick off this bucket list event - made all the more sweeter when my two top played artists, Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar, were announced as headliners.

Officially called Coachella Music and Arts Festival, Coachella is held at the Empire Polo Field in Indio, California, and has origins tracing back to 1993, however the first official festival took place in 1999. It has since has grown to the behemoth three-day, two consecutive weekend, eight stage festival extravaganza it is today, filled to the brim with 126,000 ticket holders per weekend.

All walks of life were represented, from the fresh faced first-timers (myself included), to the festival veterans with their festival t-shirts dating back years, to the families with kids in tow, hippies, style aficionados, influencers and everyone in between.

Art installations by Terry Chiao and Adam Frezza are placed throughout the middle of the grounds and create a magical childlike wonder set against the majestic mountainous desert background. Larger than life dinosaurs, building blocks and mirrors stacked up as far as the eye can see provide a feast for the eyes.

The brands who are clever enough to have an association with Coachella are obviously hand-picked with the target market in mind. H&M has had a partnership for many years, releasing branded capsule clothing collections in the lead up to festival season in March. Heineken was the dominating alcohol brand this year, while Sephora and HP were other brands that also stood out. These activations were sold to the audience as being curated specifically to their needs for the festival period, creating opportunities for each brand to connect with festival-goers in a seamless way.

HP hosted The Antarctic, a 360 degree audio-visual, large-scale projection dome powered by HP technologies, taking the crowd on a wicked journey through time, space and consciousness. H&M on the other hand created a Palm Springs-inspired bungalow committed to the green initiatives important to the brand, with photo booths and video stations for each and every Snapchat-ready moment and a clothing store on site to help festival-goers out with any wardrobe dilemmas. Sephora was also on hand with their ‘Beauty Together’ experience where crowds were encouraged to try out all of the new festival beauty trends, or unwind from a hectic day in the sun with a luxe skincare treatment.

These activations just got the crowd, which from an activation and communications perspective backs up how important creating unique, personalised moments to connect with your audience truly – a connection which is made all the more powerful by tapping into cultural zeitgeists such as Coachella. It’s these moments and touch points when the ‘perfect’ storm of branded experience comes together that makes all the difference, converting a one-off customer into a long-term brand advocate.

If you’ve heard of Coachella then you know the fashion is just as important as the music. My Instagram feed was dominated by fashion hashtags including #festivalfashion #festivallife #currentlywearing #boholife #lookoftheday #coachella2017. Flower crowns were ditched this year in favour of braids, a brave few tried Kylie Jenner’s highlighter hair and streetwear and texture (leather, suede, velvet) dominated.  Body jewelry, bralettes, body suits and harnesses were accessories de jour. The sheer dress Jenner wore on the first weekend trended on social media and the knit dress her sister Kylie Jenner wore had 23,000 people searching for it on Lyst.

Influencer seeding was rife throughout the festival, with a lot of brands placing product on those influencers who have the largest social media following. Australian influencers who were spotted included Belle Lucia, Aisha Jade, Steph Clare Smith and Elle Ferguson – providing opportunity for Australian brands to tap into those attending and still reach a home grown audience. These Coachella fashion trends will surely continue to influence not only the Australian festival fashion scene, but also everyday fashion throughout the rest of 2017 and summer of 2018.

Coachella is more than a festival it’s an immersive experience. Surrounded by good people, a great location and second-to-none music offering it is the ultimate destination for global brands wanting to establish a connection with a cultural, youth-orientated, fashion-conscious audience. Overall, my personal highlight from the festival was Kendrick Lamar’s Sunday night closing set at the main Coachella stage, i.e. as close as you will ever get to a true religious experience!