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Gen Z and Music Festivals: Pinterest Shares Three Insights from its Coachella Debut

“What we consistently hear from our users, and Gen Z in particular, is that Pinterest is their safe space to explore what they actually like, what inspires them. It’s much less about ‘what is everyone else doing,’ and more about, ‘what’s right for me?’ So we definitely leaned into that at Coachella.”

–Sara Pollack, VP, Global Lead of Consumer Marketing, Pinterest


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Fans could embellish their looks with on-trend hair and beauty styles.

It was a wise year for Pinterest to hyper-focus its efforts on Gen Z and make its grand Coachella debut. With Gen Zers driving a 1,100-percent year-over-year increase in searches related to Coachella outfit inspiration on the platform and tens of millions of queries related to the festival at large, the brand was uniquely positioned to track festival trends, and use that data to build an impactful sponsorship program.

Across both weekends of the event, April 12-14 and April 19-21, Pinterest activated a Manifest Station (get it?) experience where attendees could tap into the latest Coachella beauty and fashion trends and engage in moments of unapologetic self-expression. Among touchpoints, festivalgoers could have their outfits embellished with accessories selected by celebrity stylists and inspired by Pinterest’s Coachella trends, like “2014 core” and “Lana Del Rey core” (think: lace, leather, bows, pins, ribbon, charms, oversized hair clips and gems).

Fans who stopped by could also pose for “ethereal-inspired” photo ops and get “glowy” beauty looks created by celebrity makeup artists based on trend-inspired collaborative Boards on Pinterest. Styles like “hot metals” and “dark feminine core” were brought to life through colorful graphic liner, gemstones, pearls and metallic stickers. (Agency: MKG)


pinterest-manifest-station-coachella-2024-credit-kelly-puleio-teaserMore Festival Coverage:

“As we started to head into planning for this year, we were honing in on this really remarkable organic growth spurt that we’ve had with Gen Z,” says Sara Pollack, vp, global lead of consumer marketing at Pinterest. “How do we maintain it? How do we nurture it and continue to accelerate our momentum there? So all of our marketing this year, for the most part, is very focused on Gen Z.”

With one in four Pinterest users planning to attend a music festival this year and Gen Z leading the pack, the brand has some serious insider intel. So we asked Pollack for insights on building successful festival sponsorship programs that resonate with the coveted demo.

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Pinterest’s Coachella debut aligned with its broader Gen Z-centric marketing strategy for 2024.

 

LEAD WITH DATA

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The Manifest Station was designed to give Gen Zers ample opportunities for self-expression.

As with any cohort, don’t assume that you understand exactly who Gen Z is and what they want without doing your research. In many ways, the digital natives are unlike any generation before them, and that makes leveraging data a critical aspect of crafting experiences the demo will find relevant and resonant.

Pinterest queries related to Coachella spike every year beginning in January, so for its debut at the event this year, the brand compiled all of its search data and deduced top trends from it. Then in March, the team released a Gen Z-centric festival trends forecast that served as an anchor for its IRL activation. Apparel embellishment stations and professional makeovers offered on-site, for instance, were inspired by 2024 search trends associated with the rise of styles like Eclectic Grandpa and Dark Feminine.

“Those kinds of insights allow us to shape our strategy and show up in really interesting and meaningful ways,” says Pollack. “[Festivalgoers] are coming to Pinterest pretty early in the year to start planning. And that gives us a sneak peek into what is taking off, on-platform, related to Coachella searches… So we had a chance to show up at the festival itself with those trends in mind in terms of how we programmed the space and the types of activities that we had there for people to participate in.”

 

HYPE THEM UP PRE-FESTIVAL

Remember to feed the hype machine. Gen Z lives on digital and social, which makes a pre-festival content campaign an effective way to not only connect with attendees earlier in the game, but get them pumped for—and talking about—the event before it even takes place. The key is to leverage that digital engagement opportunity to provide the audience with something of value.

For Pinterest, the solution was to execute a digital content and influencer strategy aimed at getting Coachella attendees hyped for their festival looks—which user data showed was already a hot topic—ahead of the event. Over the winter, the brand launched a “leadup” campaign that supported its broader Coachella strategy, and included inspirational content on the platform as well as influencer partnerships, like one with Chloe and Chenelle.

“We launched a leadup campaign to Coachella in February on-platform that was all about presenting users with a lot of shoppable content, inspirational content focused on beauty, hair, fashion, overall desert vibes, etc.,” says Pollack. “And throughout that campaign we were promoting that content on-platform, but we were also doing a lot on social. We had influencers who were doing a lot of get-ready-with-me for Coachella type content, their own trend predictions, ideas and suggestions for how to show up.”

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“Ethereal-inspired” photo ops invited festivalgoers to share their activation experience on social.

 

LEAN INTO THEIR LINGO

Connecting with Gen Z means talking the talk. Literally. And it’s not for the sake of earning cool points. By using their lingo the right way, brands can demonstrate that they understand, and are working to champion, the demo’s lifestyle and perspectives. (Chiefly, the collective desire not to have their identities placed in a “box.”)

Consider Pinterest’s use of “manifestation” at Coachella, a concept Gen Zers broadly embrace.

“[Manifestation] is a word that’s being widely used these days, especially by Gen Z, who really look at themselves as projects in development,” says Pollack. “There’s a lot of intention around ‘What do I like? What’s right for me? Who do I want to be? How do I want to show up?’ That really is the act of manifesting; it’s having a vision and then bringing it to life… We’re leaning into that language and everything that sits behind it, which is particularly relevant for Gen Z, given how focused they are on identity development.”

Going all in on the concept of manifestation wasn’t solely about connecting with Gen Z, however. It was an opportunity for Pinterest to map back to its value proposition as a digital destination where consumers can visualize (read: manifest), plan and get inspired.

“What we try to offer as a platform is a safe space where you get to explore all those different sides of you and really lean into your creativity,” Pollack says. “And as I reflect on the weekend and how people sort of emerged, whether they had jewels all over their faces or neon-drawn eye makeup or bows everywhere or pearl embellishments, they emerged from that space highly confident, really feeling like they leaned in and looked like a million dollars, and it was a very palpable level of excitement.”

 

Take a Tour of Pinterest’s Manifest Station:

Photo credit: Kelly Puleio; Tati Bruening

Kait Shea
Posted by Kait Shea

Kait joined EM in 2015 and today enjoys her role as senior editor, digital content. When she’s not in reporter mode, rocking mermaid pants at Comic-Con or running laps at MWC Barcelona, you can find her at home listening to music.
View all articles by Kait Shea →

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