Why Zouk is changing its ZoukOut concept

ZoukOut is bringing back its one-day event format after five years of two-day massive parties. According to The Straits Times, this is largely due to its plans to refine the conventional ZoukOut theme for the upcoming annual events. A spokesperson from Zouk stated that it is looking to expand the event to a location “within the city”, moving from its conventional Siloso beach. Marketing has reached out to Zouk for comments. However, this year it will still be held at Siloso beach.

According to a press release from Zouk, the move is intended to allow focus on efforts to deliver a power-packed and experiential programme-driven festival. As part of its plans to refresh the ZoukOut concept from 2019 onwards, this strategy also allows for ZoukOut to expand beyond Siloso Beach with more activations which encompasses Singapore as a whole.

Andrew Li, chairman and CEO of Zouk Group, explained that after 18 editions, the team recognised that there was a need for it to refresh the ZoukOut concept to elevate guests' experiences.

"We are taking the first step this year towards our goal of a more inclusive ZoukOut moving forward. Being a Singaporean icon, we want the festival to one day, be able to showcase Singapore through ZoukOut much like how Singapore F1 does in one weekend,” Li said.

He added that the strategy includes potentially providing younger audiences with the opportunity to have their ZoukOut experience in the future, by curating a holistic and wholesome pocket event somewhere within the city.

"The big idea is essentially, for us to be able to expand our market segment and at the same time, expand our festival site to encompass Singapore as a whole,” he added.

Moreover, numbers from ST also indicated that the festival has slowly been seeing a dip in attendees having only 40,000 partygoers turn up last year. This is a slight dip compared to 2016’s more than 41,000 attendees. In 2014, it saw the highest number of partygoers at 50,000, the article said.

Commenting on the change in format, Fitch Design's managing director, Simon Bell, said that Zouk must evolve as a brand and maintain "relevance" with its plans in refining the concept. He added that this gives the brand a great opportunity to move back to its founding 2006 roots. Moreover, audiences are also likely to "pay for experiences" and ZoukOut is an experience led brand.

"It is also announcing something more beyond the sands of Siloso beach. That’s sure to pique people’s interest. For me, this is a smart play," he said, adding:

Every brand must evolve, to maintain the holy grail: Relevance.

"Brands in every category do it. In auto, Porsche is exploring electric and alternative fuel offers. In consumer, most all food brands are evolving with healthier (less sugar) offers. Change is not a bad thing," he added.

Andrew Crombie, managing director of crombie.design, added that in the face of declining attendance levels, the shift back to a one-day event makes sound business and brand sense. He added from an "experience point of view", value is generally derived from the depth of an experience, not the duration.

"Condensing the event will likely get more people together at the same time, increasing the intensity and energy, to create a better overall experience, and a lasting memory," he said.

Crombie also added that at the end of the day for such events, it is the uniqueness and intensity of the experience which will drive its social currency of how likely it is to recommended or to be avoided for the future. "This will be a key factor in whether it thrives in years to come,” he said.

At the end of the day, these events live and die on their experience and ‘badge value’ and elements which increase these aspects include uniqueness, exclusivity, intensity.

“This will all contribute to its overall success and reputation as a ‘must do’ going forward,” he said.

Meanwhile to ramp up its digital marketing efforts, Zouk appointed digital marketing agency Lion & Lion last year to handle digital media duties for ZoukOut in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Australia, following a pitch.  Not too long after, it also picked PR agency The Confluence to handle media strategy and outreach to Asia, North America and Australia for ZoukOut 2017.