A colleague of mine recently sent this to me because we are in the midst of doing something similar for a client. I thought the article was educational and supported some great points. It was originally published in 2009, but still a great read. Enjoy!
Writing Decisions: Headline tests on the Highrise signup page
We’ve been rotating some headlines and subheads on the Highrise signup page to see if they have an effect on signups. Answer: They do, sometimes significantly.
Here’s how the test works. We used Google Website Optimizer to randomly rotate five different headline and subhead combinations on the signup page. We’re measuring the number of clicks on any green “Sign Up” button. We’re not measuring any specific plan, just that “someone picked a paying plan.” We ran the test for 4000 page views. Why 4000? The numbers didn’t change much after about 3000 page views, so we stopped at 4000.
Note: We recognize that switching both the headline and the subhead isn’t quite as informative or scientific as just switching the headline or the subhead. We’re OK with this. This experiment was part learning how to use Google Website Optimzer, part curiosity, and part conversion research. More detailed tests will follow.
The original: Worst performer
This is the headline we launched with. The headline asked people to “Start a Highrise Account.” “30-day free trial” was centered bold in the subhead. The rest of the subhead highlighted that Highrise is a pay-as-you-go service and that there are no hidden fees.
The winner: 30% better conversion than the original
This combo put the emphasis on the 30-day free trial by making that the headline. The subhead let people know that signup was quick (less than 60 seconds). The second part of the subhead asked someone to “pick a plan.” This was also the only combo to feature an exclamation mark. Would be interesting to run this headline against itself — one with a period and one with an exclamation mark.
Second place: 27% better conversion than the original
This one also promoted the “30-day Free Trial” in the headline, but instead of highlighting signup speed, we highlighted other benefits: Pay as you go, no long term contracts, no hidden fees, no surprises.
Third place: 15% better conversion than the original
This combo went back to the original “Start a Highrise Account” headline, but tacked on “Today” at the end. The subhead was the same as the second place finisher: Pay as you go, no long term contracts, no hidden fees, no surprises.
Fourth place: 7% better conversion than the original
This combo featured the winning “30-day…” headline, but replaced plan information in the subhead with quick customer testimonials plus a link to the buzz page. Even though this was the only design with a link away from the signup page, it still performed better than the original design.
What did we learn
We have some theories, but we’re curious to hear from you. Why do you think these combinations finished the way they did? What other combinations would you like to see us try? What other tests would you like to see run on this page? How else do you think we could increase conversion?
The writer brings up some very interesting points in regards to the amount of content that is being pushed through social networks and the internet every day. We are bombarded with constant content and messaging, whether we are searching for it or it just decided to pop up while you’re viewing a website, like those annoying commercials that just automatically start playing and you can’t turn them off, clearly at that point user experience isn’t even taken into consideration. We agree with the writer in saying that as time progresses, marketers and content writers will have a harder time getting their stories or brands message out into their target markets. We really enjoyed reading this article and we hope you all take the time to read it as well. Original Article is from Contently.com –
At SXSW Interactive last weekend, Subway rented out a square block outside the Austin convention center and turned it into a festival field of free food to celebrate their new “Eatovations;” inside, they were showing off a mind-control video game. Sounds like a modest marketing win at worst, right?
Not so much. Even on Monday — the first warm, sunny day of the weekend — the Eatovations field was mostly abandoned. The mind-control video game was generating surprisingly little press. It seemed there was just too much else going on at South By. Too many startups. Too many brands. At any given moment, Subway was just one of hundreds showing off a cool technology, just one of hundreds giving away free food and drinks.
And within the marketing crowd at the conference, there was a palpable fear that the same competitive saturation would make content marketing as difficult as SXSW marketing.
This theory is called “Content Shock,” and it was the subject of a panel I was on down in Austin. It goes something like this: As more and more people get into the content game and create better and better content, it’s going to be increasingly difficult and expensive to earn people’s attention. That’s because you’re going to have to tell awesome stories to stand out, and telling great stories on a consistent basis takes time, money and effort. And since there are only so many people out there and only so much time that they can pay attention to media, some brands are going to fail.
This is true. Publishing is really hard, and the competition is heating up. Digital media upstarts like Vox, BuzzFeed, and Business Insider are raising money that would have been unthinkable a few years ago. Simultaneously, brands — seeing diminishing returns for TV commercials, print ads and display — are scrambling to become publishers. Everyone creating content is competing against everyone else creating content. It’s a free-for-all, with alliances and power positions changing faster than a game of Risk.
A lot of brands would prefer to sit this game out; after all, winning over an audience means getting a lot of things right. You need to find the right niche, like American Express did with small business and OPEN Forum, and like Red Bull did with extreme sports. You need a site that’s incredibly pleasant to read. You need great writers and designers working for you, and you need to pay them competitive rates. You need to be reevaluating and optimizing your publishing efforts every single day. You need to organize yourself in a way that enables you to work swiftly and intelligently.
Brands are approaching their marketing moment of truth as they contemplate this challenge. Those that are proactive and build an audience for their content — such as Amex, Chipotle, Red Bull, Samsung, GE and Net-a-Porter — will be in an incredibly advantageous position. Their publishing efforts will give them a direct connection with consumers at scale, while their late-to-the-game competitors will struggle to compete, and find it more difficult and expensive to catch up each year.The stragglers will experience Content Shock alright, but on the flip side, those ahead in the brand publishing arms race will experience Content Euphoria.
The good news? There is absolutely nothing stopping a brand from becoming a great publisher and experiencing Content Euphoria for the next decade.
It takes money, yes, but brands have the budgets to fund successful publications; doing so only costs a fraction of a TV campaign. There are hundreds of talented journalists out there ready and willing to helm a brand publication, as long as it’s authentic and ambitious. Salary and creative control are powerful recruiting tools. And if you doubt the ability of great editorial minds to win audience share when given the proper resources, just look at the successful, upstart publications we see popping up every few months.
It’s getting more difficult to get ahead in the content race every day, though, and as a result, whether a brand finds themselves in the Content Shock group or the Content Euphoria elite will be heavily determined by what they do in 2014. Will they race ahead and build the publishing empire that will sustain and drive their marketing for the next 25 years? Or will they lag behind, doomed to play with a stark handicap for the foreseeable future?
Brands can afford to ignore SXSW, but they can’t ignore this reality. SXSW lasts nine days, but the content race is forever. And it’s just heating up.
Over the last couple of days, the internet and TV world has been ablaze about the recent video the Administration launched to help push conversion rates in the exchange amongst the “millennial” generation. Depending on what aisle of the party lines you lay on, the campaign was either great or just outright inappropriate. However, taking party lines out of the equation, you have to just acknowledge that the campaign.. in essence, worked. At the end of the day, this blog post doesn’t even have to do with the Affordable Care Act and if they hit the numbers to make it effective. I’m writing this because I feel that in my everyday life as a marketing professional, I am asked the questions “why should I pay for a strategy, can’t you just put something together fast and cheap?” The answer is yes, but it won’t be successful and it won’t be worth the money or “risk” you put up front to produce it. Do you think that the campaign that was produced was cheap? Or that it would have been successful if someone didn’t come up with the idea, develop the strategy and execute on it accurately? It excited me to hear the analytics reported out after the campaign went viral, because it made me feel proud of the type of work our industry does. According to a USA Today article, within less than 24 hours of that video going viral there were more than 890,000 visits to the site and Tuesday’s traffic to Healthcare.gov was almost 40% over Monday’s traffic.
I spoke to some of my older, more conservative mentors about this campaign, excited to show them what success is, and instantly it was balked at. They said how they didn’t like it and it was “stupid”… however, to that I answered – that campaign was NOT targeted at you. That’s why you don’t get it. However, if you look at the statistics, it clearly did work. There were 19,000 people who enrolled into Obamacare in less than 24 hours. Yes, maybe that number doesn’t do that “big” of a dent considering the population size of America, but that doesn’t neglect the fact that the Funny or Die video campaign hit the exact demographic of individuals it was aiming to target. The group that is the so called “key” to the ACA working… you know those young, healthy energetic millennials who will be the life long investors of the Affordable Care Act (start them young, right?).
At the end of the day, whichever side of the political line you lay on in regards to the Affordable Care Act, one fact remains and that is that a targeted, strategic campaign, executed accurately, can drive any company or brands conversion rates. Using ALL of your tools accurately, social – website – media – word of mouth, can create the ROI marketing results and new revenue you’re looking for.
IKEA is launching a new marketing campaign in the UK this weekend called “The Wonderful Everyday,” which will explain the brand’s values and sustainability ethos to consumers, according to Marketing Week.
The first ads, which launch tomorrow (February 8), mark the Swedish retailer’s first sustainability-focused campaign. Created by Mother, the UK’s largest independent ad agency, the first TV and radio spots will focus on touting energy-saving LEDs as an alternative to incandescent lightbulbs, which IKEA has committed to phasing out by 2016.
“This is a sustainability campaign but also a brand campaign,” IKEA’s UK and Ireland marketing manager, Peter Wright, told MW. “We need to explain what we stand for and celebrate that.”
The first round of TV ads show a dark forest, which slowly becomes illuminated, tree by tree, with the voiceover saying: “By 2016 we will only sell energy-efficient LED lightbulbs. Sometimes small things can make a big difference.”
Wright told MW that the campaign is paying homage in part to the company’s roots in Smaland, Sweden, where people are “thrifty and resourceful” and sustainability is a natural way of life.
Wright said he believes now is the right time for IKEA to speak about its commitment to sustainability as people increasingly look for ways to reduce their energy consumption and bills. He claimed that by switching to LED light bulbs, the average household could see up to a 85 percent decline in that cost.
According to MW, the campaign will of course include a social media component, featuring tips on more sustainable living, with plans for a broader social media push later in the year.
This isn’t the first time the home-goods giant has encouraged more sustainable consumption: In October, IKEA launched its “Second Hand” campaign, which aimed to resell customers’ used IKEA furniture alongside new products through an online “flea market.” The campaign successfully sold every used piece that was selected to be a part of the program.
IKEA seems to be practicing what it’s about to preach with regard to more conscientious consumption: The company also announced earlier this week that it has expanded the use ofsustainably sourced cotton in its products to 72 percent, up from 34 percent in 2012.
What happened over the last few weeks though is that we collected a number of awesome tips to post on social media, that didn’t quite all fit together. So we thought, why not creating a list of unique tips, that might not have that much in common, but are hopefully still very useful for you!
So, here we go, a list of six rather random social media tips to help you improve your marketing today:
1. STOP MAKING THE MOST COMMON TWITTER MISTAKE
Here’s a quick tip about a mistake that is made all the time on Twitter. In a HubSpot post, Jay Acunzo was kind enough to offer up his own experience with this for us to learn from.
Here’s Jay’s Tweet, which he used as an example:
The mistake is an easy one to miss, but it all comes down to the very start of the Tweet. Starting a Tweet with a username (this one starts with @HubSpot) means thatonly the sender, the person mentioned and anyone who follows them both will see it.
In this case, Jay and HubSpot will both see the Tweet in their timelines, and anyone who happens to follow both Jay and HubSpot will see it in their timelines.
Of course, anyone who scrolls through Jay’s whole Twitter profile would see it as well, but we want to focus on getting your Tweets into the timelines of your followers.
So, how do we solve this? If you really want to start your Tweet with a username, add a period to the beginning, like this:
Gary Vaynerchuck even created a 44-page slideshow for this one Twitter mistake. It’s definitely worth flicking through it:
So next time you want to Tweet about someone, don’t forget to add a period at the beginning if you want all of your followers to see it!
2. SCHEDULE YOUR UPDATES TO POST JUST BEFORE OR AFTER THE HOUR
Convince & Convert founder Jay Baer shared a great tip in this Social Media Examiner post for scheduling your updates at just the right time.
If you’re trying to reach business people like marketers, office workers or managers, this is especially handy. Jay sets his Buffer schedule to post updates just before or just after the hour. He does this to catch people who are checking social media just before or just after a meeting.
Here’s Jay’s example:
Meeting is scheduled from 1-2 pm. Meeting lets out slightly early at 1:57 pm, and attendees check Twitter on the way back to their desk. Meeting goes a little long, and that dip into social media occurs at 2:03 pm.
Jay also makes a note that scheduling Tweets around common lunch and dinner times (if you can–time zones can make this a bit difficult) is a good way to make sure more of your posts are seen. When look further into the science of timing, there’re alsosome other great tips beyond Jay’s ideas.
3. FOLLOW OR FAVORITE ALL PEOPLE RETWEETING YOUR ARTICLES TO GROW YOUR AUDIENCE
One tip that I learned from Leo when I joined Buffer was to keep an eye on who shares my content on Twitter.
Just by monitoring mentions of my username, I can find people who are interested in the posts I write, and then quickly follow them or favorite their Tweet.
Try searching for your website’s name or URL, your full name and any specific keywords or hashtags that you use. If you don’t have time to reply to all of the matching Tweets, a quick favorite can help you make contact with those users.
Being able to get more Twitter followers with a number of tips that simply show gratitude are my favorite, since they’re completely non-intrusive and build on your previous efforts. We’ve written about more examples here.
4. KEEP AN EYE ON FACEBOOK’S CHANGING GUIDELINES
Facebook has had some pretty strict guidelines for running promotions on your Page in the past, and it’s always a good idea to make sure you’re not in breach of any of these. In fact, their recent big algorithm change, turned the Facebook marketing worldupside down.
What you might not know is that Facebook has actually lifted some of the rules for running promotions (they’re fond of changing things at Facebook). A recent Socially Stacked blog post looked at five of the guidelines Facebook has removed:
1. Promotions on Facebook must be administered within Apps on Facebook.com, either on a Canvas Page or a Page App.
You can now run promotions on your Timeline or by using a third-party application.
2. You must not condition registration or entry upon the user taking any action using any Facebook features or functionality other than liking a Page, checking in to a Place, or connecting to your app.
Now that you can run promotions on your Page’s Timeline, you can require a Comment or Like on your post for entry. You still can’t ask fans to enter by sharing your post on their own Timeline, though.
3. You must not use Facebook features or functionality, such as the Like button, as a voting mechanism for a promotion.
Not only can you ask fans to Like or Comment on a post to enter your competition, but you can use Likes as a voting feature now, as well.
4. You must not use Facebook features or functionality as a promotion’s registration or entry mechanism.
You can actually use a Like on your Page or a check-in to your business as entry into a promotion, now. Since Likes aren’t differentiated for promotions, however, the Socially Stacked team don’t recommend using this option.
5. You must not notify winners through Facebook, such as through Facebook messages, chat, or posts on profiles (timelines) or Pages.
Facebook has relaxed this guideline, so that you can now use the comment stream, status updates, your own blog or website, and even email or Twitter to notify winners.
Long gone are the days when announcing a new product was simply a matter of putting together a news release, sending it off over the wire and counting on major news outlets to spread the word. Today, because consumers are able to get information from a variety of sources and platforms, a successful product launch requires an integrated approach; one that includes traditional, social and online marketing tools. Here’s a look at how to focus these approaches into one concerted effort around a product launch. (View Original Article Here)
1. Traditional Methods
Even though new media seems to get all the glory, traditional television, print or radio media outreach remains an effective way to expose a never-before-seen product to the masses. Be sure to clearly spell out the elements of your product that make it newsworthy. How is it different from your existing products? How is it different from other similar products? What benefits does it provide to the consumer? You can also go a step further and subscribe toHelp a Reporter Out, ProfNet and NewsBasis. These are great resources for connecting with journalists who are looking for experts and story ideas.
Don’t discount other proven methods like advertising, trade shows, speaking opportunities, promotional events and direct mail. Ignoring them can lead to wasted opportunities. If you invest the time to truly understand the demographics and behaviors of the people you’re hoping to reach, you’ll know if these traditional methods are worth your time and investment.
2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Before you begin your online efforts to market your new product, you must have a “home base,” which ideally is a search-friendly website or blog. When launching a product, to aid both potential customers and contribute to optimized search engine performance, consider creating a product-specific landing page that features photos, descriptions and/or video. Make sure this page is appropriately coded for search, complete with keyword-rich copy, title tags, header text, a unique URL and meta information that succinctly describes your new product. Make sure this page is visible and easily accessible from your home page, at least for its initial release.
To build your online content library, consider enhancing your traditional media outreach efforts and social media news presence by distributing your product press release using paid services with both text-only and multimedia options, such as PR Newswire, PRWeb andPitchEngine. If you’re looking for a less expensive route, Free Press Release and PR Logallow you to share news for free.
3. E-mail Marketing
E-mail marketing is a fantastic way to provide specialized content to people with whom you’ve already built relationships. Consider offering a pre-order for your new product, exclusive only to e-mail recipients. Or, offer a sneak peek at the new product before it’s released to the public. This will help to nurture and reward your existing relationships and continue building on the trust you’ve already earned.
Additionally, you may set up an e-mail drip campaign that sends messages on a regular schedule at timed intervals to keep your product or service top-of-mind with your customers, and also to keep the sales funnel flowing.
4. Online Advertising
Tools such as Google AdWords (and other pay-per-click services) can boost awareness and funnel parties directly to your product. Online advertising allows you to get in front of a specific audience but with wide reach.
Another option is to do some research to determine the most widely read blogs and sites in your industry and also those frequented by people in your target markets. Advertising is often the main revenue generator on these sites and blogs, so it’s a great way to begin building relationships with the editors and site operators for a chance to get in front of the people who are most inclined to care about your product.
Don’t overlook opportunities to advertise on social networks. Some have predicted that $4 billion will be spent on Facebook advertising alone in 2011. Marketers are already realizing the benefit of getting in front of this giant’s more than 500 million users.
If you choose to pursue any of these options, make sure the ads are clickable and direct all referrals to a targeted landing page on your company’s website. This page should have content specific to the new product, along with information on how and where to purchase it.
5. Social Networks
When your product is ready to go, inform your current customers and brand enthusiasts by updating your existing social networks. Whether you have a presence on one of the well-known platforms and/or another niche social network, craft catered messages for each. But, don’t just post to any of these social networks and walk away. There are many tools available to help you manage multiple social network profiles, keep the information up-to-date and continue to communicate with your connections, while providing the social proof needed for people to buy.
Naturally, these networks are filled with potential for people to share your information. For this reason, make sure you provide valuable content. Try different mediums for discussing your new product, such as videos, podcasts, photos and/or live chats. Many people are nowgetting their news, or topics of interest, from social networks and e-mail sharing, so this is a perfect place to get your product information in front of an audience that has already been “sold” on your business.
If you have a physical location your customers frequent, utilize geolocation tools likeFoursquare or Gowalla to further your marketing gusto. By closing the gap between online marketing platforms and a physical store, you are encouraging sales through different channels and fully connecting the buying experience. Offer special deals for your business’ mayors, and promotions for your best customers; this kind of strategy goes a long way in creating a lot of buzz for your new product.
7. Group Buying Sites
Groupon, Living Social, Deal On, My Daily Thread and other collective buying sites continue to grow in popularity and offer the opportunity to introduce and incentivize the purchase of your product to an opt-in audience. These sites give you the ability to customize your product offer by market and expand the product’s reach beyond those who are already familiar with your company.
8. Blogger Outreach
Blogging has grown tremendously in the past five years. Even though Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere 2010 report found that 65% of blogger survey respondents are hobbyists, it’s likely you’ll find several bloggers in your industry who have very active communities and traffic/subscriber numbers that blow traditional media websites out of the water.
Blogger outreach goes hand-in-hand with traditional media outreach when it comes to generating interest for a new product, and the approach and methods used are much the same. Understand the blog, its audience and its content before sharing information about your product. If it makes sense, offer your product for the blogger to review.
When working with bloggers, remember this golden rule: Treat them with the same respect as you would traditional journalists.
9. Social Media Influencers
Using a strategy similar to traditional media outreach, take the time to research, locate and understand the most active social media users in your target markets. These people are at a unique advantage, having earned a large and tuned-in set of viewers, listeners and followers. While the payoff might not be immediate, creating relationships with these highly influential people can lead to valuable long-term opportunities.
While there is no universally accepted way to define and measure influence, using tools likeTwitter Grader and Klout will give a good indication of the major players in the social space and in your specific industry or market. You can also take it one step further and narrow your search by category. Tools like Twello allow you to search a directory filtered by self-identified expertise, interests and professions. This can be especially helpful for identifying Twitterusers in a subfield that directly relates to your new product.
10. Online Retail Sites
Invest in partnership opportunities with well-respected online retail sites to improve the availability and credibility of your business and product. Advertising on sites such asAmazon, eBay and Google Product Search will place your product in an environment searched by people that have already identified themselves as inclined to buy.
Amazon, specifically, offers a program called Amazon Advantage that allows sellers to delegate order fulfillment and shipping to Amazon. In addition, these products are eligible for “Free Super Saver Shipping” and are labeled as “shipped and sold by Amazon.com.” This provides buyers with the peace of mind they might not have when buying from an unknown vendor or site.
Get Customer Feedback
After your product has launched and your marketing and public relations strategies are underway, use a program like Radian6, Awareness, Netvibes, HootSuite, etc. to monitor your customers’ responses to your new product. This is a prime opportunity to open up the lines of communication with your customers and to show you care about and will listen to their feedback to improve future products.
To include your customers in your company’s product development and initiatives, consider tools such as UserVoice or GetSatisfaction to get an idea of what the people would like to see in the future.
With all of the social media tools available today, companies are truly missing out if they don’t evaluate the opportunities to execute a social/online strategy that complements their traditional marketing and PR programs for a product launch.
While it’s not commonplace for all of these tactics to be used, they should serve as a launching pad for your company to be creative and to choose the best strategy for you.
What experiences do you have with integrating traditional and online methods to make a product launch successful? What opportunities would you add?
CEO of LoudMouth Strategies, Georgette Kakridas, was featured for her community work with Equinox Center’s Leaders2020 group in San Diego. Georgette is a founding Steering Committee member and was the 2012-2013 Steering Committee Co-chair.
Georgette Kakridas knows how to get people involved. With a professional background in marketing and an intense respect for the natural beauty San Diego is famous for, she believes that retaining like-minded young professionals in the region is a critical role Leaders 2020 can play in improving the City’s future prospects. By involving San Diego’s most talented millennials in this mission, she’s putting her skills to work in a big way. Learn more about our fearless leader – see her full Q&A with Equinox Center below.
Q&A with Georgette
Q: Why did you join Leaders 2020?
A:My belief in the importance of investment in sustainable community, and young leadership development drew me to Equinox Center’s Leaders 2020 Steering Committee. Excited to serve as co-chair, I joined about two years ago while working with the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC). The programs around regional recruitment and retainment of millennials that EDC had partnered with Equinox Center to do at the time really spoke to my passion for developing young leadership. I wanted to be a part of what they were doing, so I worked with Equinox to form the Steering Committee of talented, passionate professionals that would direct Leaders 2020.
Q: What is your current job, and what are the most important roles that you play there?
A: Since graduating college in 2007, I have had experience working within a marketing agency setting, as well as providing in-house marketing for technology and non-profit organizations. I currently work as an independent marketing and communications professional, where I put my past experience in business development, marketing, community development and public relations to work for them. My work consists of components related to marketing and media campaigns, national event marketing and planning, development of social media platforms, content strategy creation and management, website development, and strategic market planning.
Q: How does your current job prepare you to be an effective Leaders 2020 member?
A: Part of making Leaders 2020 an effective group involves getting our message out to others so that we can grow. The marketing skills I’ve developed through years of professional experience and my current role have helped me to be an effective facilitator to this end. I bring fresh ideas and practiced expertise to the program development and event planning that we use to reach other young people in San Diego. In addition, the last five years of service with young leaders groups have prepared me to be comfortable engaging with other young professionals, and good at understanding their needs.
Q: How did your background influence what you do now?
A: My family’s participation in local politics and community development taught me from a young age how important it is to balance environmental health with the other needs of a community’s people. Millennials are the next group to heavily influence San Diego’s future, but we need jobs to be able to stay here, for example. Leaders 2020’s balanced view of these topics complements my own, and influences which of the program’s elements I dedicate most of my time towards.
Q: What are San Diego’s pressing environmental and economic challenges that you hope to address in your career?
A: I want to preserve the natural resources that make San Diego beautiful. As such, I realize how big an issue water is here, and throughout Southern California in general. I am passionate about discovering ways to promote clean water and conservation. Additionally, I feel that San Diego’s job industry is not as strong as it could be. As home to some extremely prestigious universities, the region graduates talented young folks yearly. But due to the lack of available jobs for them, a large portion end up leaving San Diego to pursue work in other cities where better opportunities exist. I hope to continue working towards addressing this issue in order to retain the talent that will be required to run San Diego in the future, and to contribute towards its development into a thriving community of happy young professionals.
Q: What do you do when you’re not working?
A: I am an extremely active person that loves being outside. I recently started playing golf and tend to go out almost every weekend for a round; it has become a fun way to get outside and enjoy the beautiful golf courses San Diego has to offer. Aside from golf, camping, hiking, bike riding, and stand-up paddle boarding at the beach are all things I do frequently. Coming from a Greek family, cooking is in my blood. So when I am not outside, I tend to be entertaining my strong passion for creating elaborate dishes from scratch, or trying out new recipes. I’m also a big traveler; I have been traveling since a young age and I am always ready for a new adventure. I am also a huge sports and music buff, so I take every chance I can get to attend a sports event or concert.
This Generation Has Ideals and Now Children, and Both Factors Will Play in the Marketplace
The coming year holds dramatic changes for some of the world’s most recognized brands, as more millennials, the influential consumers who already value transparency and social consciousness, become parents and expect more from brands as a result.
Start with the National Football League. Reports of damage to players from repeated head injuries are creating a serious brand-reputation problem for the NFL. Millennial parents, whose children are just entering the world of youth sports, are hugely important to the NFL’s long-term success, but they are now thinking twice about sending their sons and daughters onto the football field.
If the league can’t convince these parents that football’s potential rewards outweigh the risks, its long-term brand value will decline. At the start of this season, the league instituted stricter penalties for hits, yet the issue is not going away. The family of former Kansas City Chief Jovan Belcher, who killed his girlfriend and then shot himself in front of Chiefs officials, had his body exhumed just last month to explore the possibility that head trauma played a role in the tragedy. In 2014, look for the NFL to beef up its education efforts and institute more sweeping rule changes to prevent injuries.
The food industry has to deal with the dramatic rise in childhood allergies, which affects a growing number of millennial parents. In October 2013, the Centers for Disease Control announced its first-ever food-allergy guidelines, to be implemented in the coming school year. Even parents whose children do not have allergies will be demanding foods that are manufactured safely — and clearly labeled. Food marketers will be well served to boost their educational marketing efforts and re-work packaging and labels to address this growing consumer need.
Reinvigorated feminism is another issue facing marketers. The Oxford Dictionary chose “selfie” as the 2013 word of the year, but it could have been “feminist.” Pop stars, business leaders and politicians were all proudly calling themselves feminists. Music acts like Beyonce and Lorde are riding a wave of feminist culture, and marketers like GoldieBlox, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, andDisney‘s “Frozen” are focusing on broader choices for women and girls.
Where is this reinvigorated feminism coming from? Millennials, who are more diverse, accepting and inclusive than previous generations. In a recent poll by The Economist, 42% of all millennials said they consider themselves “feminists,” compared to just 32% of Generation X. I suspect this trend is being amplified by a recent and dramatic change in most millennials’ lives — parenthood. Roughly 40% are already there. As more millennials start families, this inclusive generation will increasingly demand that the products with which they raise their children match their ideals.
Renember also that millennials lived their young adulthood facing some of the 20th century’s biggest social and political challenges. After witnessing Congress become ineffective, their faith in government is faltering. Instead, millennials think that the private sector and, increasingly, brands and companies, can help solve the world’s ills. This type of mindset can help us predict where three iconic retailers will end up in 2014.
Target and Wal-Mart offer consumers essentially the same thing, yet their practices stand in stark contrast. Wal-Mart continues to take heat for its employee standards, production practices and price undercutting. As Target continues to grow its footprint, it can capitalize on Wal-Mart’s PR missteps. I suspect that millennials will reward Target handsomely.
And when business and marketing professors study what went wrong with Abercrombie & Fitch, they won’t be pointing to the usual suspects — product issues, scale or a faltering economy. They will say that what A&F failed to stand for led to its undoing. Abercrombie’s success was built by young generations that came before, but millennials — with their consumer idealism and dislike of the company’s elitist attiude — will ultimately dismantle this once-coveted brand.
Marketers make a dangerous mistake when they look at millennials as one cohort. They are a diverse group, falling on a wide spectrum of tastes, behaviors and income levels. Brands ignore these differences at their peril.
Millennials are often incorrectly thought of as being drawn to only prestigious, high-value brands. In reality, many are struggling financially. It’s also important to note that millennials don’t view luxury the way other generations do. They consistently report that all brands, including high-cost brands, still need to be functional and affirm their world-view.
Any brand that looks at technology as a cool, shiny thing isn’t looking through the eyes of a millennial. While technology developments and products are important, millennials think of technology as a background item. It’s not something they plan to wait in line for. That’s for Generation X and Boomers to worry about. Amazon may have won publicity with its idea to deliver packages with drones, but while Charlie Rose was eating it up on “60 Minutes,” millennials likely responded with a resounding “meh.”