Monday, July 9, 2018

Targeting Children to Create Early Brand Loyalty



Studies have shown that children are expressing brand awareness as early as age two and that the average three year old in the US can recognize 100 different brands. Young children cannot distinguish between fact and fantasy so many consumer packaged goods companies target children when they are most susceptible to marketing messages. 

In fact, many brands try to build their brand franchises early by targeting young people. 

It has been disclosed in court filings that tobacco companies had historically targeted different youth market segments in their marketing campaigns. I am sure tobacco companies supported the chocolate cigarettes that I and my elementary schools friends used to buy at our corner store. National Rifle Association (NRA) is a significant sponsor of Boy Scout Camp rifle and shotgun ranges and sponsors many joint programs in the shooting sports including the BSA/NRA Brownell Youth Ambassador Program. And many businesses sponsor youth sports, including paying for uniforms on which their logos are displayed. The Strong National Museum of Play features a Wegmans Super Kid's Market that teaches children how to shop for groceries at Wegmans. There was a time when most airlines gave out free branded "junior wings" or "kiddie wings" to younger flyers. And Cub Cadet and other vehicle brands sell toy riding tractors and other vehicles.





Product placement in television programming and movies targeted at children is widespread. Further, there is increased product placement in children's fiction books. American Idol, America's Got Talent, Dancing with the Stars and The X Factor are some television programs with the most product placements. Brands also frequently appear in The Simpsons, Futurama and South Park, though in some cases, it is as a parody. Many people may remember the Reese's Pieces placement in E.T. Animated films with the most product placements include Foodfight!, Eight Crazy Nights, Free Birds, Curious George, Oliver & Company, The Chipmunk Adventure and Bee Movie. 



Marketers are also using YouTube videos, social media celebrity endorsements and mobile alerts to reach the youth markets with brand messaging.

For better or worse, many brands have targeted youth to begin building a lifetime of brand loyalty. Pediatricians, psychologists and others have pushed back on this citing consumerism, materialism, the over commercialization of our society and the focus on brands as an indicator of social status as the negative consequences of these efforts. 

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Brands - The Broad View or the Narrow View



I tend to think about brands in the broadest terms, but others view brands in narrower terms. When someone talks about a brand others may or may not have the same understanding of what that person means. And when someone says he or she is a brand consultant, that person may mean it in the narrowest sense, the broadest sense or something in between. The same thing is true for the brand manager title. 

This is the continuum of how one might perceive a brand from narrowest perspective to the broadest perspective:

  • A name
  • An identity system (name, icon, type fonts, colors, etc.)
  • A unique value proposition or a promise of relevant differentiated benefits
  • All of the above plus a unique essence and personality
  • Manifesting itself as a unique and compelling customer experience
  • Supported with a certain type and level of service and technical assistance
  • Possessing a certain set of values and standing for something
  • Pursuing carefully crafted customer engagement strategies
  • With a thoughtfully designed underlying organization culture
  • And a carefully crafted business model
  • Led by someone with the perfect leadership style for the brand

The difference in how one thinks about brands can be due to any or all of the following:
  • How one was schooled in branding
  • How brand management and marketing was organized in the organizations in which that person has worked
  • What that person's training and background is - graphic designer, copywriter, account executive, brand manager, marketing researcher, merchandising designer, digital marketer, CMO, general manager, CEO
  • Whether that person's experience was primarily with graphic design firms, advertising agencies, media planning firms, marketing research firms, brand identity firms, web development firms, brand strategy consultancies, general management consultancies, staff marketing positions, line marketing positions, sales positions, organization design/organization development positions or something else

Obviously the skill sets and scope of work vary greatly depending on how one defines "brand." And the complexity, expectations, experience level and focus of the work will vary greatly. If you have been assigned the role of brand manager or brand champion, make sure you know how people in your organization understand the meaning of "brand." You don't want to be focused on logo design when people are really looking for a culture change or vice versa. Also, when you are hiring a firm to help you with your branding, make sure you know what type of firm with what skill sets you are hiring. I wish you great success with this.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Timeshare & Resource Sharing Brands



I remember thinking that timesharing and resource sharing would eventually hit every industry back in the mid to late 1980s when I was responsible for new product development at Hallmark. It was a trend that I thought would explode due to the more efficient sharing of resources. Back then, timesharing mostly applied to vacation rentals. Since then, RCI, Wyndham Worldwide's vacation timeshare exchange network has been one of my clients. But consider the categories and brands in which timesharing and resource sharing now operate:

  • Home rental - Airbnb, VRBO and numerous other brands. I use ADKbyOwner.com to rent my Adirondack home when I am not using it.
  • Home exchange (aka house swapping) - Love Swap Rental
  • Couch surfing - Couchsurfing
  • Motor vehicle sharing - Zipcar, GetAround, Enterprise CarShare and others
  • Ridesharing - Über, Lyft, Sidecar
  • Car subscriptions (allowing one to drive a selection of cars for a monthly fee) - Clutch, Carma Car, Flexdrive and others
  • Boat chartering - Sun Charters, Charter World and others
  • Boat sharing - Carefree Boat Club, Boat Share Direct and many others
  • Boat exchange - BVC International
  • Jet sharing (air charter, fractional jet and jetpooling) - CEOFleet, JetSuite, PrivateFly, NetJets, Flexjet and others
  • Bike sharing - Zagster/Pace, Velib', Citi Bikes, Bixi and others
  • Computer sharing - at public libraries and cyber cafes
  • Art rental programs - numerous local brands throughout the US
  • Sharing communities - Ouishare, Shared Squared, The People Who Share, Unstash, Let's Collaborate, P2P Foundation

And, in a way, hotels and libraries have always existed based on the resource sharing concept, as have country clubs and yacht clubs. 


So what are the other advantages of resource sharing (outside of resource efficiency and lower costs per usage)? Lack of maintenance and insurance worries. Fewer possessions to which one might feel tied. A much lighter environmental footprint. Lowered entry barriers for people with more modest financial means. The possibility of greater variety. And even a sense of community and sharing.

So, if you want to create a breakthrough business and brand, consider what else can be timeshared and then build a business and brand around it.