The Coming Of The Global Mobile

Teens have grown up this world of "instanity," where information, photos, and prices (when they're shopping) are just one click away. They are also just a security checkpoint and a passport stamp away from almost anywhere in the world, where they can witness firsthand how cultures all over the globe listen to (and create) their music and tuck their jeans into their sneakers. How are today's marketers supposed to keep up with that? How do you keep product available for online distribution when you're not sure what the next big thing will be -- when a hot new item could explode overnight? How do you know how much product to keep in local retail stores when more and more teens are shopping online? These supply and demand issues are just the logistical tip of the iceberg in a mountain of marketing issues for making your brand appeal to today's Global Mobiles.

There are things that every product or service can do to make itself more appealing on a global level. First, you have to create a brand with global values. For example, we know that Warholism (the idea that anyone can be famous) is a major trend in the United States, but is it also taking hold abroad? Is reality TV as big in other countries as it currently is here? These are questions you have to ask. What are examples of global values? Things like love, happiness, style, and convenience all play on a global landscape.

Second, you must have a recognizable logo. Think about the companies that consistently make it onto Interbrand's list of the top 10 global brands: Coca-Cola, IBM, Google, Microsoft, and McDonald's, to name a few. All have recognizable symbols. Think about what your logo signifies to people all over the world. While product names are another element, this area is less restricted since it's the brand identity that matters most. I love the oft-cited marketing case study of the Chevy Nova, which supposedly sold poorly in Spanish- speaking countries because "no va" literally translates to "no go." The truth, however, is that the Nova actually performed quite well in some Spanish-speaking countries, such as Argentina, Mexico, and Venezuela. While it's great marketing fodder, it's simply not a true story. The truth is that more attention needs to be paid to overall branding approaches, since (as I've said several times before) brands that focus on creating loyal groups of consumers and on providing product value can pretty much get through any crisis, complete with customer forgiveness.

Third, you should not even think about creating a global brand if your customers cannot instantly connect with you. This connection should happen through a company web site and social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Clikthrough, and whatever other online experience is hot at that time. If you want to be global, you must be instant; there is no getting around this. However, an important distinction is that being instant doesn't mean that you can't be exclusive. Just look at a brand like Louis Vuitton. It's extremely exclusive; it's even been known to allow only a few people into its stores at a time! The company sells its products at select retail locations, and it produces only limited quantities. Yet the brand is everywhere -- Twitter, Facebook, and, of course, the company web site. Louis Vuitton spokespeople are athletes, models, activists -- people from every walk of life. This company understands the art of the global connection.

The fourth point for global brands to keep in mind is that traditional retail locations may not offer you the best solution. Pop-up stores are becoming increasingly popular these days, which might be an effect of the recession, since many malls and shops have tons of empty, available spaces. However, these stores aren't limited just to malls. Magazines are taking advantage of the trend as well, and publications like Teen Vogue and Self are providing brands with opportunities to interact with their consumers in new and exciting ways. Trade shows and live events also allow consumers to interact with the items that they love. Remember, it's about the connection, not just the visit to a traditional store.

Finally, you have to look for trends globally, not just what's happening in New York or California. The key to successful brands like Coca-Cola and hip retailer Urban Outfitters is that they are able to track trends globally while applying that information locally. A brand like Abercrombie & Fitch, for example, which is losing some of its U.S. popularity, has found a loyal fan base abroad, where the all-American look plays well. Similarly, this country has imported many of its favorite reality shows from abroad; "American Idol," "Dancing with the Stars" and "Big Brother" were all launched in England before they were hits in the United States. We even see some universal, cross- cultural values in these shows. Whether you're American or British, you still love dancing, singing, and family. These have global appeal.

Now that we know what matters, it's important to explore how this new breed of teens -- or global mobiles, as I like to call them -- will buy and consume products. It's equally important to know which brands are on their radar. That is a topic for a future post!

Tags: mobile, teens
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