Television, Print, Point of Sale? Obsolutely!

I have a 3-year-old son who is obsessed with YouTube. He has had an iPad or iPhone in his hands since he came out of the womb. Okay, not really, but you get the idea. Don't judge too quickly - we focus on innocent, educational content, i.e., what sound does an oboe make, where do wolves live, etc. When my 12-year-old nephew stayed over recently, I spotted him searching for "motorcycle crashes" on YouTube, which startled me a bit, but it also got me thinking more about kids today and their comfort level with tablets, cell phones, and computers from such a ridiculously early age. 

Many of today's teens don't know life without these devices or an existence without access to information anywhere, anytime. I half-jokingly wonder do they still use pens or paper anymore? Is live TV still even relevant?

How can marketers play a meaningful role in this current environment? How should brands speak to such a technology-driven, mobile generation? And who’s doing what successfully?

  • Most retailers these days offer digital receipts instead of printed ones, which allows consumers to return/exchange their purchases without having to find random bits of paper. Of course, a retailer’s access to consumer emails then opens the floodgates to digital marketing. And we are not only talking email but also texts. Abercrombie & Fitch, a teen-focused brand, has a heavy emphasis on moving towards more text-based marketing. After all, how often do we see teens “shopping” stores but looking down at their phones the whole time? Even in-store point-of-sale messaging is taking a back seat these days, and mobile devices have become their primary “screens.”
  • Building on that, over 75% of U.S. teens own a cell phone and almost 50% of those are smartphones. Earlier this year, Coca-Cola announced its new all-digital campaign targeted primarily at teens. Called “The AHH Effect,” this initiative contains endless amounts of digital content – games, make your own videos, GIFs. It is a continually evolving, iterative campaign, encouraging input and custom content from teen consumers. It creates a sense of discovery in that the campaign includes 61 URLs, and users can type in up to 61 H’s in the address bar to see what content pops up. Coke executives describe it as a “content lab focusing on teens and mobile.”
  • Take a peek at Sharpie, the permanent marker brand that successfully grew its market share to a whopping 89%, primarily through a brilliant interactive media effort. Sharpie promoted expression through usage of its products, encouraging users to share what it had created. This included music videos, a YouTube channel, and drawings showcased on Instagram, Facebook, etc. Consumers were invited to submit their Sharpie drawings to an online gallery for possible inclusion during MTV’s VMAs.



A couple of takeaways based on this constantly evolving consumer and marketplace:

  • Sounds like a no brainer, but if your website doesn’t view properly on mobile devices, you are in deep doo-doo. Make sure your site is optimized for viewing without requiring finagling, and that content can be consumed in small snippets and on small screens.
  • Ensure you have a rock-solid social media plan in place. That includes the usual suspects like Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube. But also think about mobile videos, iterative campaigns, and other interactive exercises. Use these forums to create an engaged community of followers.
  • Talk to your teens. When a company responds to a consumer via social media, it’s meaningful and, oh, so satisfying. They speak to you regularly, so take a moment to reply back.
  • You don’t have to spend loads of money – sometimes the more grassroots the effort, the more engaging. DIY efforts resonate well, not to mention cause marketing, and, hey, a dose of humor never hurt anyone.
  • Mix it up. Tablets, phones, laptops, television, chatting, word of mouth, in store, packaging, you name it. We are living in a layered world, so we better communicate via a variety of layered media.
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