Summer Lovin’ For Gen Y with Live Concerts and Mobile Marketing

We all know that no demographic is changing as quickly as the coveted Gen Y demographic.

We also know that for a growing number of brands, they’re the segment that is not only the most important, but also the most difficult to engage. But what marketers may not know is that experiential marketing is the best and surest way to reach this elusive set, especially this summer.

Between concert festivals, outdoor sporting events, travel and the general excitement that comes from being “out for summer,” the coming months are the perfect time for marketers to get out and about themselves, engaging with these consumers face-to-face.

Gen Y now numbers more than 60 million. They’re around town, leveraging social media and taking control of every second of their lives and most importanty they are on mobile. This summer they’ll tune into whatever they want as easily as they’ll tune it out. As a result, brand marketers around the world are retuning how they go to market.
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There are some interesting stats from a recently conducted a survey with the Event Marketing Institute, surveying several thousand Gen Y consumers. The results may surprise you and help to shape your marketing plans as you try to reach this elusive demographic.

94% of Gen Y consumers say they would be more likely to buy a product as a result of a good experience at an event. Think about it. If you went to a concert for an up-and-coming pop star and left wanting more, you’d be more likely to buy her CD or download her single, right? But creating that “good experience” is no easy task.
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MillerCoors understands this and is ramping up mobile at every turn.

Gen Y’ers are the first generation that has grown up with the internet as a normal part of everyday life and now the web is in their hands 24/7. In fact, almost half of those surveyed have posted something (a photo, a status update, a Tweet) from or during an event. Because of this proliferation of technology, Gen Y presents a different set of challenges for marketers. Marketers in all brand categories need to plan campaigns that connect with consumers, whether they’re live or on mobile or both at the same time, and the experiences have to reach consumers’ minds.

Clearly, marketing to Gen Y is still a tough audience to completely crack. To succeed, marketers need a new rulebook. Here are four rules for ensuring experiences make the critical connection to the Gen Y consumer:

Let them in. And we mean all the way in. You already know that savvy brands use experiential marketing to create ongoing dialogues with consumers. What you might not know is that those conversations now give consumers a chance to weigh in on everything about your company — 99.4% of Gen Y consumers say they welcome ongoing communication with a brand after an event.
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There is a real opportunity to connect here — not only with how you market to them, but also with what you market to them. Solicit their input on product design and functionality; get their feedback on what services you could offer to better meet their needs.

Show, don’t tell. The brand must serve as an experience guide, not an experience dictator. Give the consumer room to construct his or her personal meaning from your product or experience. Show your product or service — demonstrate not only what it is and any benefits and attributes it offers, but also its relevancy to consumers’ lives.

Sell it. Events are the best place to get consumers excited about your product — and with the report finding a high percentage of consumers willing to buy on mobile, savvy brands are capitalizing on live engagements, selling directly at their events and seeing a huge, immediate return.

Constant contact. Gone are the days when companies connected with consumers simply at an event. Now the live event is part of a larger continuum of brand connections and the total brand experience. Brands need to create a successful series of gestures. Engagement starts well before the event rolls into town, and continues long after it ends.

Events continue to act as a relationship catalyst, a springboard for further conversations. And consumers want continued conversations: When asked how they would like to continue the conversation after a live event ends:

Almost 21% of survey respondents said they’d like to be driven to a website;
22.1% requested email correspondence;
20.6% asked for promotions;
16.9% wanted invites to future events.

Interestingly, only 0.6% said they didn’t want to continue communicating with a brand. The stats speak not only to the power of events as a relationship catalyst but also to the ways with which brands need to ignite post-event communications.

To amplify your brand communications, you need to build in reasons to reconnect in person over time. And then layer in communications between your live events. As summer approaches and the opportunities are greater than ever to reach millennials while they’re out and about, smart marketers will use events as “pearls on the string” of engagement, turning a series of touch points into full-scale, holistic, long-term — and many cases, true lifetime — relationships.

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Twitter Cofounder Shakes Up the Credit Card Biz

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Jack Dorsey specializes in simple ideas with outsize impact. Twitter, which he cofounded in 2007, began as a way for users to broadcast quick status updates to friends. Now it’s a 200-million-member communications platform, where Dorsey serves as executive chair.
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His new company began with similarly modest aims: give anyone the ability to accept credit card payments through a tiny reader that plugs into their iPads and smartphones. Called Square, it has signed up hundreds of thousands of merchants and processed $66 million in transactions in the first quarter of 2011 alone. The startup is also building a vast database of financial information that its customers can tap into. It tracks each sale conducted through its credit card readers, allowing the company to calculate everything from the busiest sales day of the week (Saturday) to the average price of a cappuccino ($3.09 as of April 18).

The power of that kind of data analysis helps explain why Square was able to close a second round of funding in January: $27.5 million from Sequoia Capital, Khosla Ventures, and others, which valued the young company at $240 million. Then Visa invested an undisclosed sum in April.

PepsiCo taps mobile for loyalty program to reward beverage consumption

PepsiCo Foodservice has launched a mobile loyalty program in the form of an iPhone application that rewards consumers for visiting restaurants that serve Pepsi beverages.
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The Pepsi Loot iPhone application rewards consumers with Loot – free songs, including tracks provided exclusively for Pepsi Loot users from artists such as the Neon Trees, Tamar Kaprelian and Semi Precious Weapons.

“The strategic reason is we are always looking to connect with consumers and customers in ways that allow us to create better engaging experiences,” said Margery Schelling, chief marketing officer of PepsiCo Foodservice, Purchase, NY.

“Providing an engaging experience for consumers is our strategy for everything we do,” she said. “If you look at how consumers live today, no one is without a mobile device.”

That was precisely why Pepsi chose to use mobile in this particular initiative.

Using location-based technology, Pepsi Loot features a map of nearby restaurants that serve Pepsi beverages, called Pop Spots, along with information such as address, cuisine type and introductions to the restaurant’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

In addition, restaurants can deliver a value offer directly through Pepsi Loot, such as a free Pepsi with purchase of an entrée.

“Pepsi Loot is a platform for Pepsi to provide added value for all of its restaurant customers,” Ms. Schelling said. “The app creates awareness and drives traffic to restaurants that serve Pepsi and serves as a vehicle to deliver customized offers.”

Once the consumer has arrived at a Pop Spot, the geolocation technology of the iPhone enables the consumer to “check in” to earn Loot.

After the first check-in the consumer earns a free digital song download at the Pepsi Loot Store, http://www.PepsiLootStore.com.

The Pepsi Loot Store includes more than 250,000 songs from a catalog of chart-topping artists.

In addition to providing free exclusive tracks, Pepsi Loot artists contributed behind-the-scenes personal videos, available at the Pepsi Loot YouTube channel, http://www.youtube.com/pepsiloot.

“Mobile is very important to Pepsi’s overall marketing strategy and it is becoming increasingly important for Pepsi Food Service,” Ms. Schelling said. “Mobile is the way that consumers are living their lives.”

Mobile Outlook for 2010

Is it too early to begin looking ahead to 2010?

Marketers understand the need to integrate mobile into their multichannel branding, customer acquisition and customer retention plans.

Several trends are emerging as mobile matures into a medium that, while not without flaws, is a more palatable option than other marketing channels in use.

I believe the emphasis should be on mobile’s complementary nature – it gives legs to other channels, including retail, online, television, print, coupons, radio, outdoor, direct mail and insert media.
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Top of my trends list is the consumer’s growing comfort with consuming news and content on mobile phones, along with exchanging SMS text messages, shopping for products and services, checking email, playing games, conducting mobile banking transactions and searching for retail locations or driving directions.

Indeed, the mobile channel’s use as a location-enabling tool is quickly becoming evident to brands, ad agencies, retailers and, most importantly, consumers.

Marketers must remember that mobile cannot be treated like other mass mediums out there.
Mobile is a highly personal channel, with attendant sensitivities and double opt-in permission requirements.

So it’s not the quantity that should matter for marketers looking to incorporate mobile into their multichannel marketing plans. It’s the quality and that’s where mobile excels.

While the economy could be better, that hasn’t stopped consumers from quickly shifting to mobile many tasks that previously were conducted on computers.

The choice for marketers and ad agencies then is not to deliberate whether to have an SMS program or mobile banner ads or a mobile Web site or a mobile coupon program or a .mobi domain or an iPhone/BlackBerry/Android application.

Instead, the decision to be made is which one of these options or a combination of options is relevant for the brand in its efforts to reach consumers through multiple, relevant touch points.

Smart marketers and agencies will think like smart fishermen: fish where the fish are.
Consumers have already moved to mobile, and are on mobile to stay!

Marketers should focus this year and next on using mobile to build databases of consumers who have opted in not once but twice to receive targeted offers, alerts and information from marketers.

One more thought…a marketer without a mobile loyalty program in 2010 will risk losing customers to competitors who have such efforts in place.

2D Codes

Can your mobile phone read these codes…all new phones in the USA will by next year. In Japan more than 80% of cell phone users access these codes daily.

The desire of today’s society, particularly among the younger, more tech-savvy parts of the population. To instantly gain information about a person, place or thing has been termed “infolust” by Trendwatching.com.
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The fact that “Google me” has entered the English language is just one example of the way in which social networking and marketing is being affected by the web. The inclusion of 2D symbols as a shortcut to this information — whether it’s information about a product or person — is just the next step in this evolution.
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Currently, scanning 2D symbols on ads or items can link the user to a website for more information, to receive a special offer or discount coupon. However, the trend toward the use of 2D symbols and cell phones goes beyond mere information.
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There are currently pilots and limited implementations that allow consumers to purchase event tickets over their cell phones (scan a symbol to go to the web site, make a purchase, get a 2D symbol — ticket — to display for admission).

The vision is that 2D symbols will be used to help consumers order a taxi, sign up for a text alert service, enter a competition, and more.

This code will take my phone to my xanga blog!
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Scariest scenario for Google? iPhone Apps.

Apple’s iPhone and other smart phones are generally good for the big guys at Google: And of course anything that get more people using the internet from their phones and using the most dominant search engine is going to one day make Google make their mark in mobile advertising…that is, as long as it’s not cutting down on the amount of time they use the web and Google on their computers.)

But Apple’s iPhone App Store is not as good for Google. While Google has a tiny business displaying in-app ads, the rest of the movement toward mobile apps and app stores is currently bad for Google. Why?

Time spent in apps is competing with and replacing time spent on the mobile web.

There are some Google display ads in iPhone apps, but no direct line to Google Search or search ads, where Google stands to make the most money. (The good news is that Google doesn’t make much money yet from the mobile web, so this isn’t immediately disruptive.)

Time spent in apps is competing with and replacing time spent on the real web.

This is probably the scariest scenario for Google. If I am sitting on my couch playing iPhone games or reading an article in Instapaper Pro instead of goofing around on the web on my laptop that is potentially real lost revenue for Google.
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Similarly, even if I’m using my iPhone’s web browser, using the mobile web and Google search, Google is probably not monetizing those searches nearly as well as they do on the computer.

Users are learning to go to an app to find the information they need as opposed to going to Google or the web.

For example, if I want a restaurant review, I don’t go to Google to type in the name of the restaurant. I go to the Yelp app. Or Urbanspoon. Or whatever. Either way, no Google there.
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The App Store search engine built into every iPhone is becoming a very important search engine.
One billion apps downloaded means hundreds of millions or billions of searches conducted. Google doesn’t power it or sell ads there.

The upshot for now is that mobile advertising, especially in iPhone apps, is still too small to matter to Google. Instead, even a small improvement to Google’s main search advertising business would be more lucrative to the company than spending that effort on iPhone ads.

But eventually, it’s possible that the mobile web and mobile apps will be important enough for a significant amount of Google’s attention. At which point they’ll either have to roll out an awesome ad model the way they did for web searches or buy one of the leading mobile advertising companies.

And yes, Google does publish some iPhone apps of its own. But on the iPhone, the most important Google-powered apps Maps and YouTube are built by Apple, and don’t include any ads today.

Consumers have a recession message for marketers: Will click for coupons.

As consumers troll online to save money, searches that include value words such as “coupons” rose 161% in December vs. 2007 to 19.9 million and “discount” rose 26% to 7.9 million, reports tracker ComScore.
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As a result, spending by marketers on such search words is up, too. They bid online to tie their brands to search terms so their website appears as a “sponsored link” above the unpaid results or their text ad is to the right of the results. They generally offer to pay from 4 cents to $1 each time someone clicks on the link or ad.

Google, which controls 60% of the paid search ad market and whose AdWords is the largest auction system, says ad spending on value-related words such as coupons rose 30% in the fourth quarter over the same period a year earlier.

“Search is very much a barometer of the times,” says John Burke, Google director of industry development.

Promotion Marketing Association Coupon distribution and redemption had been flat in 2008 until the fourth quarter, when coupon distribution rose 7.5% and redemptions rose 15% vs. a year earlier, the Promotion Marketing Association says.

“That’s when consumers suddenly starting saying this is for real and marketers said we need to react with more coupons to keep our sales up,” says Charles Brown, co-chair of PMA’s coupon council and a vice president for coupon company NCH.

Brown says the Web is the fastest-growing coupon distribution medium for big marketers, up 80% in 2008.
How they are searching for sales:

Kraft.

Last fall it added “cooking on a budget” and “value” to its search roster. Offers include $1 coupons for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese.

“We are using some different methods of paid search to reach people,” says Basil Maglaris, Kraft spokesman.

Procter & Gamble.

A brand search for Crest Whitening Strips will yield a $7 coupon. “By understanding what search terms to buy we are able to better understand how consumers are searching for our products,” spokeswoman Barbara Hauser says.

Unilever.

A search campaign linking coupon terms with Bertolli’s Oven Bake Meals boosted clicks for a $2 coupon. It’s been “generating a 25% to 30% click-through rate on couponing terms,” says Russel Lilly, senior brand manager. Even better, people buy the meals: The coupon has had a 30% redemption rate.