While many promotional strategies are ageless, to be most effective you need to know how to fine-tune your strategy for your target market. If you’re targeting a particular age-group of individuals, you may be able to capitalize on generational trends. Authenticity is becoming increasingly important to consumers, particularly to millennials and Gen Z. This article, “‘This Is A Business Now’: YouTube Stars Influence Generation Z’s Fashion Tastes“, discusses how one woman, Rhea Park, took her interest in fashion and turned it into a business by posting videos of herself modeling and reviewing various outfits. She has over 250K followers and those followers trust her reviews more than they would trust content found on the designer’s website because Rhea’s videos are perceived as unbiased and authentic. In Chapter 16 we refer to this as Earned Media, promotional strategies not directly generated by the company or brand, but rather by third parties such as Rhea.
Advertising continues to shift away from traditional media and more to digital media. In particular, mobile advertising is the hot platform these days due to it’s ability to not just target customers with a specific profile but also take advantage of location information. The customization and filtering enabled by digital advertising is helping marketers be more effective and more efficient with their promotional strategies. A restaurant no longer needs to offer a generic promotion to all customers, they can push a coupon for the item most frequently ordered by each specific individual.
However, according to this article from Wired.com, researchers at the University of Washington have found that this deep degree of ad personalization may carry a price consumers aren’t aware of. The researchers found that for just $1000 anyone can track a target’s location, learn what applications they have on their phone, routes they take to/from school or work, etc. with significant accuracy. The article goes on to say that consumers are generally unconcerned about individual companies having location information and other limited data because they trust those institutions, their motivations, or the legal system to protect them from abuses. However, this shows that any individual can exploit information shared across multiple apps and websites to spy on a specific individual.
The trend toward personalized, location-based advertising is likely to continue. Do companies have any ethical issues to consider? Should companies that conduct this level of advertising be required to educate consumers more on the consequences of opting-in to these services?
The internet has given consumers incredible power when it comes to evaluating and purchasing products. No longer do you have to visit multiple stores to compare different products. Visiting websites of multiple manufacturers couldn’t be simpler but it’s not just access to manufacturer provided product information that has changed. Consumers have always been skeptical of promotional messages from sellers, rightly assuming those messages are biased. That skepticism has given rise to the popularity of “unbiased” consumer reviews. Go to Amazon or most other online retailer and you can quickly find product information provided by the manufacturer along with consumer reviews and ratings. This desire for consumer to consumer reviews has become the entire business model for companies such as Yelp.
Individuals have also capitalized on this trend by posting video reviews on sites like YouTube or creating their own review sites. When these sites rise in popularity their product reviews can have a significant impact on product sales. Unfortunately this “free advice” isn’t always altruistic. Recognizing the impact these sites can have has led many companies to try to woo reviewers and incent them to push their products over their competitors. Trying to determine if a reviewer has received any compensation or incentives from manufacturers is often a difficult process as many reviewers hide that information or outright fail to disclose it.
The Fast Company article, “The War to Sell You a Mattress is an Internet Nightmare“, provides an in-depth look at these practices within the world of mattresses. The article details the practices of online reviewers as well as mattress manufacturers. Some of those practices might trigger a few ethical concerns. For instance, Casper CEO Phillip Krim wrote one review site saying, “Currently you actively endorse a competing product on our review page. What can we do not to have you endorse another product as superior to ours?” Casper goes on to offer free products, travel, etc. to convince the reviewer to give their product a better rating than their competitor Leesa. These incentives and kickbacks create a conflict of interest for these independent reviewers and can compromise the integrity of their reviews.
Which side is right and which is in the wrong? There are many sides to this issue which can lead to some great in-class discussions (or a written position paper). This is also an opportunity to highlight the significant role publicity can play in a marketing strategy.
Most industries report a decline in the effectiveness of advertising as a means to tell customers about their product. As we note in chapter 16, customers tend to place more faith in what real people say about goods and services they might buy. Apps, including the online review site Yelp and social media site Instagram, offer customers an easy and fast way to hear about other customers’ experiences.
Restaurants have long benefited from word-of-mouth (telling a friend about that “great meal you had at the new bistro”). Today, some restaurants are looking for ways to be more “Instagrammable.” Read more at this trend in “Instagram is pushing restaurants to be kitschy, colorful, and irresistible to photographers,” The Verge, July 20, 2017.
This article could be discussed at many different points in the semester. It offers an interesting example of customer value (chapters 1, 8 and 17); for some target customers, improving the “shareability” of an experience enhances the experience. For many young people, sharing the experience is part of the experience. It also suggests how consumer behavior (chapter 5) with social media (chapter 16) can impact new product development (chapter 9). After sharing this example in class, students could be asked: why are these businesses doing this? They are likely to immediately get that it fosters word-of-mouth, but may not readily connect with other benefits.
Last Friday we also posted on the music industry — a student favorite. Making it as a musician is tough these days. Streaming services don’t pay most musicians very much. It is essential for musicians to build a fanbase. To do that, many musicians turn to social media to build their brand and attract followers.
This USA Today article, “How young artists turn tweets into album, ticket sales” (August 26, 2016) describes how artists like Lindsey Stirling, The 1975, and Halsey use Snapchat and YouTube to build a following. It is particularly important for these up-and-coming artists who are not the “big names” that can drop a new song or CD and instantly get airplay on the radio and buzz among friend.
The animated gif here is Lindsey Stirling — I did not know her before reading this article, but just streamed a few songs from Spotify. I like her sound.