Having an online video chat with a young child can be a frustrating experience. The controls are not particularly intuitive for kids, and they haven’t yet learned how to keep up their end of the conversation, leading to some not-exactly-quality time.
To bring far-flung families (particularly grandparents) together, Panasonic is launching a new app, “HomeTeam,” which allows family members (again, particularly grandparents) to share content such as books and games — and video chat — over great distances via Web browser or tablet.
“It’s the next best thing to being there in person,” Steve Safier, president of health & wellness solutions for Panasonic Corporation of North America, tells Marketing Daily. “Phone calls and ordinary video chats with young children lack the depth and duration needed to build and sustain strong relationships and can leave grandparents or other callers searching for something to talk about.”
To develop the app, Panasonic spent time studying how families struggled to create meaningful connections outside of family events and visits, Safier says. “HomeTeam provides a natural experience with the power to unite families, anytime and anywhere,” he says. “HomeTeam is about sharing meaningful screen time between grandparent and grandchild. It focuses on depth of communication and not simply frequency or reach.”
To promote the new subscription service, Panasonic is launching an advertising campaign that includes print ads and digital banner advertising, as well as blogger outreach and social media seeding. The brand is working with well-known entities such as Scholastic, Meredith Digital, AARP, Grandparents.com and SheKnows Media to promote the new app.
“We’re also promoting this app through employee ambassadors, which is a natural extension to our marketing efforts,” Safier adds. “It’s an opportunity to leverage the success behind the Panasonic brand, which became a global name largely through technology and engineering expertise, and with our employees, who possess strong pride and enthusiasm that can be a powerful — and influential — means of creating traction for HomeTeam.”
The app includes more than 600 titles of popular children’s books (including series such as “Curious George” and “Martha Speaks”), as well as a variety of age-appropriate multiplayer games, to share in real time with video chat capabilities.
“Through Panasonic’s user testing, we were able to determine that frequency of communication also increases and it is primarily driven by the grandchildren who clamor for more personal time with their grandparents,” Safier says. “It is also the only product specifically designed for grandparents and grandchildren with a user interface that combines shared reading and gaming experiences over video calls.”
For the initial launch, Panasonic is offering first-time users a month free trial of HomeTeam. After that, the service is available via a monthly ($8.99) or annual ($89.99) subscription. Users who opt not to subscribe can use the app’s video chat feature without access to the other content.