Flash mobs are so 2009. Have you seen a branded vending machine offering free products in exchange for an email address? Have you been approached by aspirational radiant-skin women handing out free beauty samples? Have you received free coupons in exchange for a smile and some personal information? Have you been encouraged to Tweet, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat that special branded VIP photobooth selfie in exchange for free swag? Each of these unique touch-points offer a glimpse into how grassroots marketing works for millennials. We (millennials) love new branding experiences that resonate with our generation – and we love free stuff! This is how brands win millennials at grassroot events.

In Canada, we are blessed with multi-faceted, multi-scale, and multi-ethnic opportunities to dabble in the rich experience of grassroot events. I’m talking about events from the CNE, Taste of Manila, Diwali festivities, Chinese New Year Celebrations, Toronto International Film Festivals, Toronto Men’s Fashion Week to your local waterfront ribfest.

If you’ve visited one of these events, you can attest to the evolution of event marketing and it’s growth into the guerilla era where brands excite, resonate, and spark conversations. Event marketing works by focusing on the experience surrounding the target audience and marketers stay ahead of the game to provide a nouveau experience to connect and move their audience. For millennials, we prefer a more guerilla-approach with a few incentives. (We’re willing to provide information for a free swag bag, a portable charger, samples, and money in the form of coupons.)

Grassroot events are littered with brand activations, displays, and information. Here are a few ways how grassroots event work for millennials:

Brands create an experience within an experience – an event within an event.

Millennials aren’t overwhelmed with levels of entertainment. Give them a chance to spin the wheel to win an iAnything at a film festival while they are hashtagging the night away to win a trip to the next hottest getaway and they’ll do it without breaking a sweat!

Brands add a new dimension and entice your inner techie.

Millennials are glued to technology – especially mobile. 34% of social media users between the ages of 18 and 35 admitted that they liked a brand more if they had an online presence and interacted with them. (Source: Association of National Advertisers, Barkley, SMG, BCG)

Brands talk about you talking about them talking about you.

Millennials are social. They’ve grown up in a digital era where communication is at large and the world feels small.

– We’re entrepreneurial, liberal, brand loyal, socially conscious, and engaged consumers? Tweeten the deal, and give us something to Tweet about.