Category Gen Y

Find Out Who Your Potential Customers Are Before It’s Too Late

Changes in society impact the products that we buy, how we shop, and who influences purchase decisions. In the end, these changes impact how products need to be made and advertised.

Rapid advancements in technology are increasing the speed at which society changes. The rate of change that we saw from one generation to the next could now possibly happen every few years.

Therefore, it is becoming more it important for brands to continually monitor whether or not their products and services are meeting the needs of consumers. Furthermore, it is vital that they make changes whenever necessary.

Women and Children First

No the ship is not sinking. At least we hope not. However, sometimes it might seem that way.

That said, if you have an established brand that is losing market share, it might not be a bad idea to check out who is purchasing and using your products and services (and your competitor’s products and services too.)

In his book, “What Women Want: The Science of Female Shopping,” (affiliate link) Paco Underhill highlights how the changing role of women in society has influenced who is purchasing and using products and services.

As he points out, in some cases it might not necessarily be a shift in who is using the product or service. It might, if fact, be the case that the female head of the household may still be purchasing and using the product, but given further time constraints, the way the product is being used has changed. Therefore, the product or its advertising might need to be altered to better meet the current needs of consumers.

The role of children in the family has also changed in recent years. This is partly a result of the increased prevalence of technology and the higher comfort level that youth have with these new technological advancements.

In the book, “Gen Buy: How Tweens, Teens, and Twenty-Somethings Are Revolutionizing Retail,” (affiliate link) Kit Yarrow, Ph.D., and Jayne O’Donnell, point out that, “Gen Yers typically provide in-house tech support for their parents, which reinforced their stature as equals—or even superiors, at least in the IT department.”

They go on to point out that, “Previous generations had to pretend or humor their kids (“Let’s frame your Picasso!”), but in the case of this generation, their intuitive ease with technology and their ability to adapt to technological shifts is a genuine asset to any family.”

“Seeing as we all know better than to tick off the techies, the glow of this expertise has contributed to the confidence of this generation,” the authors of the book continue. “It also means that kids have more of a vote and more power in family decision making. That includes far more than technology and extends to things like vacation destinations, cars, and Dad’s outfits too.”

This doesn’t mean that we can totally ignore adult male consumers. It may be the case that your products and services are still being purchased and used by the male head of household. However, you won’t know this until you do the research.

Also, you don’t want to only cater to youth.  Baby Boomers can’t be ignored. As I pointed out in a recent blog post, there are a lot of them, and they have a lot of money and time to spend it.

Don’t Alienate Your Best Customers

In an effort to increase market share, you might decide to increase sales by targeting other demographic groups. This could be a good choice if you find that those consumers are already starting to use your products and services.

However, you do run the risk of actually losing more customers if you start appealing to other demographic groups. Unilever learned this lesson the hard way, albeit unintentionally, when middle school boys started using its Axe Body Spray in large numbers. This caused the brand’s target market, men aged 18 to 24, to lose interest because Axe Body Spray started to get the reputation as a “kid product.”

Therefore, before you choose to alter the product or the advertising to meet the needs of a different demographic group, you need to understand that it might result in decreased sales among the original target market. In some cases, this trade off might be an acceptable risk. Other times, not so much.

Final Thoughts

Gender roles have changed in recent years, as have the way family decisions are made. This could be influencing how consumers are using your products and services.

Rapid advancements in technology are increasing the speed of these changes. In fact, some technological advancements could have a huge impact on the who, where, when, why and how consumers buy and use your products and services.

As noted, if your brand is losing market share, you will want to see if other demographic groups have become potential customers.

The choice then is to decide whether to alter your products and services, as well as the way that you advertise those products and services to consumers.

However, the choice is not always as easy as you think, because you might end up decreasing sales if you alienate your existing customer base.

As with all business decisions, there might be unintended consequences to the choices that you make. Your best bet is to make an informed decision based on research and testing.

On the other hand, if you choose to completely ignore the changes that are happening around you, you might end up searching for your life boats.

Photo credit: Digital Sextant on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Marketing: A Case for Using Traditional Media

Online marketing is becoming necessary for brands because their customers and potential customers spend a lot of time on the Internet.

Mobile marketing is also becoming more important because it often gives brands the ability to reach their target audience when these consumers are making purchase decisions at retail stores offline.

However, online and mobile marketing should not replace a brand’s marketing messages that are delivered via traditional media channels (i.e., print, radio, television, etc.) Instead, online and mobile marketing should be used in addition to the brand’s other marketing efforts.

A recent study that was released by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project reinforces this fact by pointing out that many consumers still don’t use the Internet.

As of August 2011, 78% of Americans age 18 or older used the Internet. This means that about one in five American adults can only be reached via the traditional media channels.

Demographic Comparisons

The survey results from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project study point out that Internet usage among Americans age 18 or older is strongly correlated with age, education, and household income.

As would be expected, Americans age 18 to 29 are the most likely to use the Internet (94%).  In comparison, only 41% of Americans age 65 or older go online.

When examined by household income, we find that Internet usage ranges from 62% among adult Americans who live in households with incomes that are less than $30,000 per year to 97% among adult Americans living in households with household incomes of $75,000 or more.

It’s also interesting to note that only 43% of adult Americans who didn’t graduate high school go online. This percentage increases to 71% among adult Americans with a high school diploma. Furthermore, 88% of adult Americans who have attended some college courses use the Internet. As would be expected, this percentage is even higher among adult Americans with college degrees (94%).

Nonusers Are Just Not Interested in the Internet

According to another study that was conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project in the spring of 2010, only 10% of adult Americans who weren’t Internet users at the time that the study was conducted indicated that they would like to start using the Internet or email in the future.

Final Thoughts

Online and mobile marketing are becoming increasingly more important for brands.

However, given the fact that only 78% of Americans age 18 or older go online, it’s important to remember that brands still need to use traditional media channels when marketing their products or services to consumers.

In fact, marketing campaigns that are delivered via the traditional media channels are even more important for brands that are targeting older, less educated, and less affluent consumers because these consumers are the least likely to go online.

Moreover, brands that are targeting consumers who are likely to use the Internet should still use other media channels to get their message out. After all, many Internet users still consume content via the traditional media channels. If consumers haven’t abandoned these traditional media channels, why should brands?

The key is know where your customers and potential customers consume content, and then advertise there.

Photo credit: bossco on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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The Value of a Good Book: Insights From Will Hunting

“See, the sad thing about a guy like you is in 50 years you’re gonna staht doin some thinkin on your own and you’re gonna come up with the fact that there are two certainties in life. One, don’t do that. And two, you dropped a hundred and fifty grand on a f—-n education you coulda got for a dollah fifty in late charges at the public library.” ~ Will Hunting in Good Will Hunting (1997)

I think that Will Hunting made some interesting points in this scene in Good Will Hunting.

The first: Don’t be a jerk.

The second: There’s a lot of knowledge that can be gained if people just take the time to read the right books. And, thanks to public libraries, most of that knowledge is free.

Note: I think that if the movie script was written today, he might have said that the same education could be gained by doing a Google search, as there’s a lot of great information online that is available for free. But then again, you can access the Web at most public libraries, so the line in the movie still works.

Keep in mind, I don’t think that Matt Damon and Ben Affleck were arguing that people shouldn’t go to college.

Part of what you pay for when you go to college is the experience of college life. This includes getting the chance to interact with your professors and other students. In the process, you are able to get their perspectives on what you are studying.

Furthermore, I can honestly say that I am very proud to have earned a degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. That’s something that you can’t get by reading books at a library.

That said, your education doesn’t end when you receive your diploma. Therefore, a library card and a thirst for knowledge can go a long way in helping you gain additional insights and keep up with the latest trends in your industry.

Books That I Have Read Recently

I tend to get most of my information from blogs and articles online. However, I also try to supplement that knowledge with insights from thought leaders in the business world by reading books. (My goal is to read 12 books this year, in addition to everything that I read online.)

Here’s a list of some of the books that I have read in the last few years, along with the reviews that I wrote on my Reading List by Amazon on LinkedIn, if applicable.

“Twitter Power” (affiliate link) by Joel Comm.

“The Leap: A Memoir of Love and Madness in the Internet Gold Rush” (affiliate link) by Tom Ashbrook.

“Think Outside the Inbox: The B2B Marketing Automation Guide” (affiliate link) by David Cummings and Adam Blitzer. “I would recommend this book to marketers, sales professionals, and entrepreneurs who are looking for ways to improve their marketing and sales efforts. Furthermore, I would highly recommend this book to you if your business is thinking about investing in a marketing automation solution.”

“Enterprise Marketing Management: The New Science of Marketing” (affiliate link) by Dave Sutton and Tom Klein. “I would recommend this book to all marketers, including C-suite professionals. This book was published in 2003, but I think the concepts that are talked about in this book are still very relevant today.”

“Marketing in the Age of Google: Your Online Strategy IS Your Business Strategy” (affiliate link) by Vanessa Fox. “I would recommend this book to all marketers, including C-suite professionals. I would also recommend this book to entrepreneurs and just about anyone else who has a product or service for sale. This book not only explains how search engines can have an effect on online sales, it also gives examples of how search engine optimization (SEO), when done properly, can increase offline sales. It is filled with useful information that people can use in their professional lives and in their everyday lives as consumers. This is a great book.”

“The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)” (affiliate link) by Seth Godin. “This is the first book that I have read that was written by Seth Godin. I would classify it as a motivational or self-help book, rather than a book about marketing. Overall, though, I thought it was a very interesting book and I would recommend it to anyone.”

“Confessions of an Advertising Man” (affiliate link) by David Ogilvy and Sir Alan Parker. “This book is a classic.”

“The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference” (affiliate link) by Malcolm Gladwell. “‘The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference’ by Malcolm Gladwell is a very well written book. It definitely makes you think. I look forward to reading his other books.”

“Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking” (affiliate link) by Malcolm Gladwell. “‘Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking’ is another thought-provoking book by Malcolm Gladwell. I would definitely recommend it to anyone.”

“Gen BuY: How Tweens, Teens and Twenty-Somethings Are Revolutionizing Retail” (affiliate link) by Kit Yarrow and Jayne O’Donnell. “‘Gen BuY: How Tweens, Teens and Twenty-Somethings Are Revolutionizing Retail’ is a very informative book. I would definitely recommend it to any businessperson who has a product or service that is being sold to Gen-Y customers. I also recommend it to any person who wants to learn how companies are using technology to market to potential customers. Furthermore, the authors of the book list many cool websites and apps, making it a useful book for consumers of all ages (especially parents with Gen-Y children.)”

“Social Media 101: Tactics and Tips to Develop Your Business Online” (affiliate link) by Chris Brogan. “‘Social Media 101: Tactics and Tips to Develop Your Business Online’ by Chris Brogan is the perfect book for new bloggers. It is also a great book for businesses that are looking to add social media into their marketing mix.”

“Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion” (affiliate link) by Gary Vaynerchuk. “‘CRUSH IT! Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion’ by Gary Vaynerchuk is a great book. I would recommend it to anyone who doesn’t understand why they need to include social media in their marketing mix (or anyone else, for that matter.)”

“The Thank You Economy” (affiliate link) by Gary Vaynerchuk. “‘The Thank You Economy’ is another great book by Gary Vaynerchuk. I would recommend it to any businessperson. I particularly like the ping-pong analogy that he uses to explain the importance of combining social media with your traditional marketing efforts. This book is packed with great case studies that showcase successful and not-so-successful uses of social media in the business world.”

“The Big Red Fez: How To Make Any Web Site Better” (affiliate link) by Seth Godin “‘The Big Red Fez: How To Make Any Web Site Better’ by Seth Godin is a book that can be read very quickly, yet it has a lot of useful information in it.”

“Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping–Updated and Revised for the Internet, the Global Consumer, and Beyond” (affiliate link) by Paco Underhill. “‘Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping–Updated and Revised for the Internet, the Global Consumer, and Beyond’ by Paco Underhill is one of the most informative and entertaining business books that I have read recently. Almost every other page has some insight that makes you think: “that’s interesting” or “that’s good to know.” I’d recommend this book to anyone.”

“The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics: A Math-Free Exploration of the Science that Made Our World” (affiliate link) by James Kakalios. “‘The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics: A Math-Free Exploration of the Science that Made Our World’ by James Kakalios is a very interesting read if you want to learn about the science behind some of products that we use in our everyday lives. I’m not a science guy, but I still thought it was a very good book.”

“Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust” (affiliate link) by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. “There’s not much that I can say that hasn’t already been said about this book. If you haven’t read it, I suggest that you add it to your reading list.”

“Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?” (affiliate link) by Seth Godin. “‘Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?’ by Seth Godin is a book that everyone should read. If you have ever doubted yourself or chose the easy road instead of following your dream, this book explains why. And, it challenges you to change that. Do yourself a favor and read this book.”

“Go Mobile: Location-Based Marketing, Apps, Mobile Optimized Ad Campaigns, 2D Codes and Other Mobile Strategies to Grow Your Business” (affiliate link) by Jeanne Hopkins and Jamie Turner. “I would recommend this book to marketers and entrepreneurs, particularly those who work for businesses that advertise online. (And, that should be almost every business.) As the authors of the book point out, “Your web-based marketing channel could very quickly transform into just mobile marketing.” This book explains some of the differences between PC-based online marketing and mobile marketing. In the process, it provides insights that can help give a business the edge over its competition.”

Final Thoughts

In “Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust,” Chris Brogan and Julien Smith write about how they read as much as they can online. As they point out, “It’s easier to read too much and forget the stuff that doesn’t matter than to wonder what you’re missing.” This quote can apply to books, as well.

Furthermore, even with all the knowledge that can be found online, there’s a lot of information that authors choose to share only in the books that they publish. Therefore, it pays to pick up a book and read.

So what are you waiting for?

Photo credit: kit.macallister on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Why Is Cause-Related Marketing So Important? For Many Brands, the Answer Is Y

BusinessDictionary.com defines cause-related marketing as, “Joint funding and promotional strategy in which a firm’s sales are linked (and a percentage of the sales revenue is donated) to a charity or other public cause. However, unlike philanthropy, money spent in cause-related marketing is considered an expense and is expected to show a return.”

A recent AdAge article pointed out some statistics from two studies that highlight the importance of cause-related marketing.

The first study mentioned was the 2012 Sponsorship Report by IEG Consulting. According to that report, cause-related marketing in North America is projected to grow 3.1% this year to $1.7 billion.

The second study mentioned in the AdAge article was the 2010 Cone Cause Evolution Study. That study pointed out that in 2010, 83% of Americans over the age of 18 wished that more of the products, services and retailers that they use would support causes.

The last figure alone should help brands understand the importance of cause-related marketing.

For brands that sell products and services that are targeted to Gen Y consumers, cause-related marketing might be even more important.

Cause-Related Marketing and Gen Y

Generation Y (Gen Y), also known as the Millennial Generation (or Millennials), are particularly interested in supporting brands that support the causes that they care about.

In a blog post on blog.barkleyus.com, Jeff Fromm, SVP of Sales, Marketing & Innovation at Barkley, points out that, “This generation’s purchase decisions are heavily influenced by their opinions of a company’s cause marketing initiatives. They also value charitable contributions via cause marketing because of the ease of participation and the scope of impact that a corporate-based charitable program can have in comparison to an individual donation.”

Fromm goes on to mention that showing Gen Yers that the brand cares is critical for brands that are searching for ways to engage and tap into this generation of consumers.

Kit Yarrow, Ph.D., and Jayne O’Donnell also emphasize that cause-related marketing is important to Gen Y consumers.

In their book, “Gen Buy: How Tweens, Teens, and Twenty-Somethings Are Revolutionizing Retail,” (affiliate link) they state that, “Indeed, one of the more popular means of getting close to Gen Yers is through their interests and their favorite causes. Gen Yers, in part by virtue of their age but also because of our more superficial society, are yearning for purpose and want to belong to something bigger than themselves. They are often genuinely attuned to and passionate about causes, but there are other reasons why this technique has worked so well. Causes also add purpose and meaning to shopping—and sometimes just enough added benefit to rationalize a purchase. Being seen by others as being passionate about a cause is en vogue—and it unites people together.”

Yarrow and O’Donnell also point out that, “Businesses that support causes also appear to be more compassionate and socially responsible than those that don’t, which is reassuring and a stamp of quality to Gen Yers. Many Gen Yers make it their business to support the brands and retailers that they perceive to be good to their employees, good for the environment, or doing something good for the world.”

Final Thoughts

Cause-related marketing can potentially be a win-win-win for the cause, the brand, and the consumer.

The cause/nonprofit organization that the brand partners with gets support in the form of money or other resources.

The brand will hopefully get an image lift with consumers by being associated with the cause, which should translate into increased sales. (Note:  Cause-related marketing could potentially backfire if the brand comes off as insincere or hypocritical. As the AdAge article points out, brands also might not receive the desired results if the cause is not aligned with the target market.)

Finally, if the cause-related marketing campaign is properly executed, consumers benefit by being able to feel like they have made a difference as a result of making a purchase. In the process, they get a positive feeling about themselves and the brand.

As shown, Gen Y consumers are extremely receptive to cause-related marketing campaigns for many reasons.

Gen Yers are also very comfortable with technology and social media, in particular.

Therefore, if a cause-related marketing campaign resonates with them, there is a good chance that they will let others know about it online. In other words, cause-related marketing could potentially generate positive word-of-mouth mentions.

This is why brands that are trying to reach Gen Y consumers should consider adding cause-related marketing to their marketing mix.

Photo credit: becomeunreal on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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