Deejay Mash has been in the entertainment industry for over 20 years. He is also an experienced event organizer and entertainment consult
The club evolution
Nightclubs have come a long way since the swinging 60s, and the disco-era of the 70s when their popularity exploded, thanks to go-go dancing. Today, technology has placed clubs on a whole new level; with state-of-the-art sound and lighting equipment along numerous other top-of-the-range accessories to enhance the night out experience even further.
Interestingly, despite all the latest technological developments, it still does not guarantee a packed club every weekend- according to a study by Urbanland that looks into the changing habits and preferences of today’s club-goers. The study reveals that unless clubs urgently tailor their entertainment and establishments to target millennials, they are bound to fall by the wayside.
According to GfK, a world-renowned market research firm, today's millennials were born between 1982-1999(in 2020), and represent the first generation to walk into adulthood with mobile phones in hand. The group’s age currently ranges between 21-38 years old, and consists of the majority of potential nightclub revellers and general population as well. Additionally, millennials are the most influential age-group as they invent, follow and dictate the latest trends; while they also possess immense spending power.
Against the norm
Club owners, on the other hand, should be a worried lot. Unlike the past generations which visited their favourite clubs every weekend religiously, millennials have largely departed from this tradition. According to the Urbanland study conducted by ULI and Lachman Associates, only 60% of Millenials party in clubs. Out of this percentage, only a paltry 25% are ‘regular’ clients who visit clubs about once a month on average. The rest of the millennials only go to clubs on special occasions like bachelor and bachelorette events, birthday parties, when a popular guest Dj is in town, or if they are on vacation in club capitals such as Miami or Las Vegas.
The paradigm shift occurred when millennials reduced physical contact and switched to social media and online dating sites to hook up, keep in touch, and date. This is because the sites are easily accessible, readily available, provide fast results, offer convenience and discretion. This is unlike previous generations who found clubs to be the ideal venues to physically socialize, unwind, mingle and interact.
Like all businesses, clubs require a steady, constant and consistent flow of clients to remain afloat. The once-in-a-while trend adopted by millennials has adversely affected the industry. Consequently, over 6500 establishments in the US close shop annually due to lack of business, according to Nightlife’s Association Executive Director, J.C Diaz. The few clubs that have survived, on the other hand, have witnessed a drop of roughly 10% percent in sales.
This new pattern by millennials is not only restricted to the US. In the UK, for example, in 2008, there were around 13,505 nightclubs in operation. Today, the number has significantly reduced by a huge 5,000 margin to settle at 8,703 according to IBIS world analysts.
Why Millennials are not going to clubs
Rising expenses, insecurity, inconvenient time club closures, unsuitable music, overpriced drinks, meat market environment, excessive noise, jostling, rude staff, poor service; are just some of the reasons that keep millennials away from clubs,according to a survey conducted by The Guardian. As a result, a majority of those interviewed stated they preferred to spend a quiet night indoors watching Netflix, although, most agree a night out is important, and they would like to go out more often.
Another section of millennials polled opted to save up, over time, to attend festivals and concerts instead of visiting clubs every weekend. They also pointed out that social media and dating sites reduced the need for regular physical meetings; which explains the current dip in club attendance witnessed.
How to get millennials clubbing again
Armed with the above information, it becomes a tad easier to solve the issues cited by millennials and put in place effective mitigating measures. This is important to ensure clubs reclaim their lost glory and operate at their full potential. With over 60,000 establishments in operation, 370,000 direct jobs and a combined annual turnover of over $22 billion, clubs contribute a huge chunk to the economy, therefore, worth saving.
To achieve this end, the following tried and tested interventions can ensure clubs achieve the desired result, of attracting millennials to visit more frequently to enjoy fun-filled and well-deserved nights out;
1. A strong and reliable Wi-Fi connection
Millennials are a tech-savvy lot and love to surf the web even when partying. A club should install a fast, reliable and consistent internet network.
This enables millennials to capture and share their fun moments in real-time, upload photos and videos on their social media platforms. This, in turn, translates to free marketing, advertising, publicity and promotion for a club. It also gives the club’s management a golden opportunity to analyze data and get instant feedback and in-depth insight into the popularity of products and services on offer. To determine what needs to be retained, included, excluded or improved.
To increase the efficiency of service delivery, an app-based ordering system, such as Barpass, Noble, Tablelist, BarEye, Flipdish among others, is highly recommended to ensure food and drink orders flow smoothly without delays. Most of the apps are free, therefore, no major investment is required. The apps are already in use in some establishments and have shown the potential to increase sales by up to 10%.
A club’s website and social media pages should be regularly updated to ensure they are vibrant and contain interesting and relevant content to boost traffic. Websites and social media platforms act as the face of a business and millennials attach a lot of importance to them. A quick glance at a club’s website can attract interest or put off millennials.
Additionally, a club should interact freely with visitors to their various sites and promptly respond to questions, complaints or inquiries posted. According to statistics, millennials spend slightly over 200 minutes, on average, per day on the internet using their Smartphone’s. With the right strategy, this is sufficient time to draw their attention to your club and market the experiences on offer.
2. Offer a wide range of products and services
Millennials have unique tastes and preferences, in total contrast to their predecessors; and they vary depending on local demographics. A one-size-fits-all approach does not work for millennials. Profile the millennials who frequent the club, and offer products and services in line with their interests. Generally, research shows a large majority lean towards ales, craft beers, wines, healthy drinks and nutritious foods at affordable prices.
Constantly update products and services according to demand and introduce new items often. This not only attracts millennials, but also creates a vibrant culture, and a club is perceived to be up-to-date on the latest trends.
3. Provide memorable experiences
A GfK study on spending habits discovered that 78% of millennials prefer to spend their cash on an experience rather than a tangible item. Using existing customer data derived from a club’s immediate area of operation, it is possible to accurately establish the most popular, effective, ideal and unique experiences to introduce, to attract and retain millennials as the core club customers.
For example, a club can introduce theme nights where different genres of music are played on specific nights; like rock, reggae, trance, soul, pop or oldies music, live bands, quiz or karaoke nights, among others.
Such an arrangement can be combined with complimentary’s and special discounts on selected foods and drinks; depending on the outcome of results captured by the client data analysis on preference patterns, to boost club attendance.
4. Provide personalized service
A club that strives to offer personalized products and services to its target market motivates customers, who in turn, spread the word. Social media sentiments are an effective way to reach a wider audience of millennials and analyze how an establishment can customize entertainment, decor, service and introduce varied tastes to suit the target market.
On an individual level, clubs can award regular customers with freebies once in a while, commence a card loyalty point system which leads to discounts, or provide discounted offers on certain days to boost sales. This plan also allows a club to collect useful data needed to provide pointers in future, when creating offers on services and products, to give them a personal and unique touch.
A text or email messaging service which updates millennials on upcoming club events, encourages participation, and appreciates clients after their attendance can work wonders. Caution should be exercised though, to ensure the service is used sparingly to avoid bombarding potential and existing customers with too many messages, which can result in the opposite intended effect.
5. Social responsibility
Millennials are a highly opinionated lot and support various causes. Ensure a club is associated with at least one worthy social cause which directly benefits the local community. It could be a regular tree planting exercise, neighbourhood cleanliness activities, maintenance of the kids’ playground, or support of a home for the aged or orphans. Such actions portray a club’s image in positive light;one that cares and gives back to the community. This considerably boosts a club’s profile, visibility and popularity within millennial circles.
Also, ensure staff are paid on time and well- treated. A club’s attitude towards its staff can make or break millennials’ trust. Well remunerated and catered for employees guarantee increased productivity and eliminate cases of rudeness, insecurity and theft. Such seemingly simple and basic gestures can make a world of difference.
Keeping abreast with the ever-changing demands and trends in nightclub culture, which resonate well with millennials, is clearly the determining factor on the survival, or total collapse of nightlife as we know it. Clubs should always be flexible to make changes on short-notice to accommodate any new ideas and developments that may arise, and which touch on this sensitive and influential group.
Currently, millennial’s number over 80 million which represents around 22.03% of the US population. They have the numbers - the social and economic influence to sustain and catapult the entertainment industry to greater heights. As long as their concerns and interests are taken into consideration, addressed and implemented, the future of clubs will remain secure.