Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Marketing to Millennials


NPR's recent segment on marketing to Millennials featured an informal "focus group" of people in their late teens, 20s, and 30s, with a message to marketers: Entertain us, be authentic, and don't push too hard.

An online search for "marketing to Millennials" yields more than 8 million results, and this NPR coverage is one of the more recent hits. Late last year, Inc. posted a guide to Millennials that reminds marketers of this group's global, tech-savvy perspective and behavior.

What an Adweek infographic points out is that Millennials don't want hard sell, they want a friendly approach--and they enjoy advocating for brands they like and admire.

The Guardian (UK) also reminds companies that Millennials are willing and able to cocreate content for brands they like and admire.

Finally, Media Post recommends that marketers dig deep to see individual differences among Millennials, recognize the vital role of shopper marketing in influencing decisions made in the store, and understand when digital marketing can and can't make a difference.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Toy Fair Time: First Look at 2015's Newest Toys

Want to know what you'll see on store shelves come November? The wholesale Toy Fair (which just completed its NYC run) offers an early look at what 13,000 toy retailers from around the globe are buying for the holiday season.

Lots and lots of dinosaurs, for a start, thanks to the upcoming release of the new Jurassic World movie, one of the sequels to the wildly popular classic film Jurassic Park. And, as Fortune notes, generic dinosaur toys can be produced without being licensed from Jurassic Park's owner, Universal Studios. At the same time, LEGO licensed dinos for its new Jurassic World brick set, introduced at the Toy Fair.

All the usual suspects had exhibits at the fair, including Mattel and Hasbro, plus many up-and-coming firms. In addition to new Barbies and Furbys, watch for new Marvel comics superhero toys, drone-type playthings, Star Wars tie-ins, even fake snow. Really.

For more news, follow Toy Fair on Facebook or Twitter.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Mattel's Marketing Strategy for Digital Natives

Today's youngsters are digital natives, which is why Mattel is retooling its marketing to fit their behavior and interests.

Iconic toys like Barbie have nostalgic appeal, to be sure, especially among parents who played with Barbie and Ken as children. Still, Barbie has lots of company (meaning competition) on toy store shelves, including the incredibly popular Frozen sisters from Disney.

In addition, the target market for Barbie and similar fashion dolls is becoming narrower because girls are moving onto more grownup toys earlier than in the past.

Now, with Barbie's sales down for the third consecutive year, and company profits drooping, Mattel is using updated technology for Barbie's 21st century makeover.

The latest Barbie models have ToyTalk technology, allowing them to "converse" with girls. "The most requested thing that kids have wanted to do with Barbie, and Mattel's done unbelievable amounts of research over the course of decades, is to talk to Barbie," says ToyTalk's CEO. Supported by an aggressive product development schedule, Hello Barbie will be on toy shelves late this year, if all goes well.

Another classic Mattel toy, the View-Master (see photo above), is also getting a 21st century make-over. It will be introduced with virtual reality apps (a Mattel proprietary app and others available on Google Play) for more compelling images. The original View-Master was introduced in 1939. This new, affordable VR version will repurpose some of the existing images. Will digital natives go for it?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Goodbye, Radio Shack

It didn't have to end this way, but Radio Shack has filed for bankruptcy. This is a national retailer with 3 million Facebook likes and a decades-old legacy. A retailer that rode the wave of trendy tech during the CB (citizen's band) radio days and the early PC it marketed, the TRS-80. A retailer with a store seemingly in every shopping center and high brand recognition.

But the world changed and Radio Shack didn't change as quickly as needed. For one thing, the tinkerers who were once a major target market (buying electronics parts and gizmos and gadgets to solder or wire together) now had little time or had other interests. The maker movement is bringing this kind of tinkering back but Radio Shack won't be around to cater to this customer's needs.

Then there was the rise of the big-box store like Best Buy, a veritable tech supermarket that Radio Shack's tiny locations couldn't match in any way. Not to mention the e-commerce tidal wave that Radio Shack simply couldn't latch onto.

Sure, Radio Shack was in on the cell phone craze. But the kinds of deals that helped saturate that market aren't needed now. In fact Sprint will take over space in some of the chain's stores and Sprint employees will sell from there.

So thousands of Radio Shack stores will close . . . but the brand may live on in a new incarnation. Stay tuned.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Super Bowl 49: Only a Few Super Ads

The Patriots pulled off a stunning final-seconds victory over the Seahawks. But what about the commercials?

Well, very few were as exciting or as engaging as the sports battle on the field.

USA Today's Ad Meter indicates that the most popular ad was (no surprise) Budweiser's heartwarming story of the puppy saved by the Clydesdales. The ad has already attracted tens of millions of YouTube views, in addition to its gigantic TV audience.

Among the ads not so lauded: Toenail fungus fighter.

Speaking of puppies, the pregame counterprogramming show Puppy Bowl has become a favorite on Animal Planet. The original version had a measly $80,000 budget but lots of heart, not to mention lots of adorable puppies from shelters, awaiting adoption. This year's version had a much bigger budget and lots of different animals--all adorable, of course, drawing an audience across demographic groups.