Media Land Rover

Land Rover 4xFar Festival Familiarizes Millennials with '20 Defender

PALM SPRINGS, CA – The Land Rover Defender exited the U.S. market in 1997, a year after the last Millennials were born. So this highly desirable target demographic has never seen a new Defender or may not be familiar with the Land Rover model that was sold in some form throughout their birthyears of 1983 to 1996.

Land Rover hopes to change this and capture the generation’s attention and dollars with the ’20 Defender that debuted at the ’19 Frankfurt auto show and goes on sale this spring. “Millennials will be the biggest premium-car buying audience in roughly five years,” says Felix Bräutigam, Jaguar Land Rover’s chief marketing officer, in an interview at the brand’s recent 4xFar music and adventure festival.

But Millennials are a difficult and savvy group to pitch products to and most prioritize experiences over material possessions such as cars, according to a 2016 Harris Group survey. McKinsey and Co. also reports U.S. Millennials spend four times more on experiences than physical goods.

An experience on which Millennials freely spend money are large multiday music festivals such as Bonnaroo and Coachella. So as part of the launch strategy for the ’20 Defender, the Land Rover 4xFar festival in Coachella Valley near Palm Springs, CA, featured Millennial-favored music acts such as Mark Ronson, Sofi Tukker,Anderson Paak, Young the Giant and Kurt Vile.

“The Defender doesn’t have the presence in the U.S. market that it does in other countries,” says Stuart Schorr, vice president-communications for JLR North America. “Its return to the market is a really big milestone and we wanted to mark it with a big activity but do it in an environment that also fits into modern culture.”

In addition to popular and up-and-coming musicians, 4xFar also included mountain-biking and rock-climbing clinics, fly-fishing and knot-tying demonstrations and wilderness survival and “campsite mixology” workshops. “Millennials love learning life hacks and how to do things,” Schorr says. “It’s not just about entertainment, but improving yourself.”

On a custom-built 15-acre (6-ha) off-road course, 4xFar attendees put the ’20 Defender through its paces. Vintage Land Rovers and Defenders were also arrayed around the festival grounds to showcase the brand and vehicle’s heritage.

“Millennials appreciate authenticity – they’ll pay $300 to $400 for vintage sneakers,” Bräutigam says. “When they discover the Defender has a whole history and it’s not some artificial new product, it gives it credibility.”

Witha new infotainment system with over-the-air software updates, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a 12.3-in. (31-cm) digital instrument panel, the Defender is “the most connected Land Rover product today, which also fits the Millennial lifestyle,” Bräutigam says.

Millennials have high expectations when it comes to sustainability, he adds. “The Defender is built using recycled materials and it will soon be available with plug-in hybrid technology.”

Land Rover hopes “all these aspects resonate with Millennials,” Bräutigam says. “It’s a vehicle that helps them make more of their life and not just a cheesy marketing exercise.”