Raving: What’s it all about?

As one year ends and we look forward to the new, it’s strictly positive vibes at Amplify. Last year, brand experience confirmed its rightful seat at the marketing "grown-ups" table.

While we work across a broad mix of audiences, it’s the younger segment we look to for insight, inspiration and trends. Our recent Young Blood research has explored the hopes, fears and realities of more than 2,500 13- to 25-year-olds in Britain, and helped guide our work in everything from experiential design to social strategy. Here are some of the findings, and what they will mean for brand experience.

Fluid culture + hyper sampling

The digital revolution has opened up the world to endless possibilities in every aspect of life: music, films, skills, jobs and dates. The ability to be whoever you want is resulting in open and fluid identities that go beyond genders, genres, scenes and styles.

Good news: this has made this generation one of the most informed and tolerant ever. The bad news for marketers is that having abundant access to information has allowed young people to nurture eclectic, sometimes inconsistent and, most importantly, fast-changing tastes. Because of this, brand experience agencies have to raise their game and think attitudinally rather than in "neat" demographic boxes.

A higher purpose

While the younger generation has a tendency to ebb and flow, social purpose is going nowhere. Even when they’re at an age where they can afford only Primark, they still aspire to wear Patagonia. Why? Because Patagonia is a brand with continued influence, thanks in part to its ongoing investment in campaigns such as Worn Wear, enabling customers to trade in old clothing for credit toward something new. Not only a great way to recycle and incentivise upgrades, but also for the brand to cement its position as the outdoor company that respects its customers and the environment.

For real

Brand authenticity is important, providing reassurance and validating choice, but as the term "authentic" becomes overused, young people become more ruthless in their assessment of how "real" brands are. Pepsi and L’Oréal both endured huge backlashes for errant brand decisions in 2017, showing that if a campaign or experience is in any way forced and inauthentic, they will be called out for it.

So, how do you prove your authenticity? Be consistent and practise what you preach in every element of your brand experience – showing what you stand for rather than just telling people. Don’t jump on the latest trend or movement simply to serve a sales agenda.

The ‘maker’ generation

Time has proved Joseph Beuys right when he said "Everyone is an artist", with today’s audiences wanting to curate, craft, edit and "make" their own content as part of their brand experience. Think of self-expression, experimentation and personalisation as elements that can enhance an individual’s social and professional currency. Adidas’ Speedfactory initiative is a great example of a brand taking it one step further with a commitment to open-source co-creation – providing a space for customers and professional athletes to collaborate on product design tailored to a hyper-local audience.

Seamless journeys

Brand experience now transcends physical activation, meaning all live experience should be designed to complement and amplify the digital experience. A key consideration is to be designing spaces that capture the spirit of the moment and culture, and seamlessly translate back into the social realm. Made for generation Snapchat and Instagram, these spaces become part exhibit, part installation.

The next level

Talk of (and the use of) augmented and virtual reality has been around for a while. Done well, AR and VR can amplify engaging stories to the highest level. Facebook is taking VR to another level with Oculus Venues, allowing people to view live events such as sports and concerts in virtual reality. Meanwhile, hotly tipped start-up Melody VR enables fans to experience 360-degree gigs as if they were there, from the crowd, to centre stage.

The challenge and opportunity in 2018 is to better master the art of digital storytelling and for creatives to push this media to its limits, rather than just translating real life into VR.

Final thoughts

The brand experience world continues to evolve and lines are blurring. Brands want true, content-rich, talkable and shareable big ideas. For all of us working in the fast-paced, rich and audience-driven world of brand experience this represents a massive opportunity. We’re determined to enjoy it.

Top tips for 2018

  1. Drop stereotypes
  2. Evolve with your audience
  3. Their values are your values
  4. Don’t do it unless you mean it
  5. Stay relevant, stay real

A matter of the mind

Dr Peter starts by giving a brief insight into her early life, and it comes as no surprise that this German born academic who studied in Berlin and now lectures at Manchester Metropolitan University, is an expert in club culture as well as the unconscious mind.

The need to release ones inhibitions is inherent. “Do you ever feel like you have to go out?”, says Dr Peter, “because I do”.

From painting, running, meditating and of course, raving, people choose to let go in different ways. According to Dr Peter, dancing at raves liberates and unites the body and the soul, two entities that are often perceived as separate in Western Culture.

Whether you’re aware of it or not, choosing a live rave over its digital counterpart could take you on a spiritual experience that leads to a much more discovered sense of self.

    In Deep

    Dr Peter draws on Carl Gustav Jung’s notion of the collective unconscious, a part of the human mind that contains memories and impulses, unaware to the individual that possesses them. Sometimes referred to as the psyche, this segment of the mind is not shaped by personal experience but is genetically inherited, like instincts of life and death.

    Physically experiencing and dancing at a rave gives people access to their collective unconscious, and provides an opportunity to explore this part of their identity through the physical body.

    “I don’t care who I’m with or where I am, sometimes I just have to dance”, Dr Peter says.

    Pon de Club

    And in today’s day and age, a good ol’ rave up isn’t always confined to traditional underground clubs. Now, you can get your next party fix pretty much anywhere including crazed gym classes complete with glow sticks to morning raves at The Shard. It seems the physical rave and the experience it induces, has opened up to a wider spread audience, appealing to people of all walks of life – the health conscious included.

    Top 6 December raves

    1. Floating Points: Five Miles – A rave for the greater good, all ticket sales go to the homeless charity; Shelter
    2. The Black Madonna: York Hall + After Party - With love for the daytime rave, the Kentucky-born producer and DJ will spin the decks from 2pm, don’t miss the official after party at Savage Disco.
    3. Derrick Carter: Phonox – Celebrate NYE eve with the best in Chicago soulful house
    4. Krankbrother: Bloc – See the new year in with 8 of the biggest acts in house and disco
    5. HAAi: Phonox – Taking it back to Brixton for NYE, resident DJ Haai will weave an eclectic selection of music spanning house, disco and rarities from around the world
    6. Ben Klock: E1 London - Another NYE corker at new cutting edge late night venue, showcasing the best in established and emerging talent


    So, we know the rave scene is nothing new. But looking deeper into the psychology of why people do it, we can see that raving provides benefits that go beyond frivolous fun.

    In Dr Peter’s words, music facilitates a kind of dance-discovery, and experiencing a live rave in a venue as big as Alexandra Palace as opposed to listening to music through a stereo, can build a wider culture and community. Brands like Spotify, who have taken a virtual playlist, and created a physical experience from it, are getting it right. We are in the age of brand experience, and raving remains one of the most rewarding activities that can join the dots between people, brands and culture.

    For more insights into youth culture, check out our series Young Blood