Move Over Millennials. There’s a New Kid in Town!

September 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

Naming Gen Edge

A Guest Post by Amy Lynch

001-goodnight-ipad-by-ann-droydRecently demographers and gen theorists documented a clear shift–new behaviors and attitudes that signaled the start of a new generation. Technology plays a role here. For people 19 and under, social media and multi-tasking on five screens at once are the norm. In fact, many of them were read “Goodnight iPad” rather than “Goodnight Moon” at bedtime.

Now the question: what to call this new group? Names abound–Homelanders, iGen, Gen Z–but the name that sticks seems to be Gen Edge. Here’s why.

Each generation is born into a time of stability and belonging, a time of idealism and awakening, or into a period of skepticism and instability. And then (drum roll) once every 100 years or so a generation is born into a world that sees on the edge of collapse. Economically, socially, politically and technologically, things are changing so quickly that the whole era feels unpredictable, risky, edgy.

Of necessity, a generation of kids who grow up on the constant edge of change become edgy themselves. Resourceful and resilient, they find their way through minefields of uncertainty and figure out new ways of making things work.

Parenting comes into the mix as well. Today’s kids are being raised by Gen X parents who have nurtured without coddling. Unlike Millennials, Gen Edge has not been overprotected. They’ve known about adult problems, like unemployment and bills to pay, from early on. So they navigate the work with savvy beyond their years. Realists to the core, they have an edge. Gen Edge just fits.

AmyLynch2013Amy Lynch is president of Generational Edge, helping companies move beyond generational awareness to generational strategies that increase innovation, engagement and sales.  She has talked with groups as diverse as MTV, Boeing, Johnson and Johnson, and the Staff of the US Senate.  

What Advertisers like Nine West Need to Know about Marketing to Women

August 25, 2014 § Leave a comment

Bt9QAX4CAAE2UY3.jpg-largeBeyond the 25-49 Demo

I hear target audience horror stories like Nine West all the time.  Sometimes it is a media target issue, sometimes it is a relevance issue and sometimes it is a creative issue.  Today targeting marketing to women has a whole new meaning.  We need to know a lot more about a target than their sex, age, income and favorite brands.   The creative, the brand and the media all have to be in sync.

Nine West Looking to Shock?

One of the most talked about campaigns in the women’s sector is the fall advertising campaign from shoe company Nine West.  Customers of the brand found it offensive and said the brand did not know them well.  The campaign targets women 25-49.  Okay and what else?  Evidently the campaign has centered on supposedly key occasions in women’s lives – Starter Husband Hunting, the anticipated Walk of Shame, and the First Day of Kindergarten complete with four-inch heels and the Drunch – a drunken lunch.  Criticism has come from those saying this campaign is not new, but rather a throwback to the 50s when all women wanted was a wedding and a child.

The marketing team said that the brand had lost its luster and they sought to bring some new life to it.  And maybe they did expect to encite and enrage a bit.  They were clearly not going after mainstream women, but following those who see themselves like HBO series “Girls” and Amy Schumer, the provocative stand-up comic.  Did they target them?  Maybe.  This advertising smacks of Miley Cyrus trying to be irreverent to get a new fan base.  Or American Apparel trying to be provocative to make t-shirts sexy.  But the real matter is how many of their base audience did they disenfranchise.

Consumer Backlash to Nine West Campaign

“Stupid campaign 9W. Love your shoes but don’t patronize your customers by an outdated ideal,” said one Facebook user. “Women are hunting success and goals, dreams and visions. Not husbands.”  This is pretty true.  Millennial women of today think man-hunting is a pretty outdated notion and they value their independence.  The top priorities in her life are career success and love. Oh, and love does not necessarily mean marriage.

resizeJen Drexler, senior vice president at the Insight Strategy Group and co-author of “What She’s Not Telling You,” found the Nine West ads problematic.“ ‘Starter husband hunting’ and ‘walk of shame’ is not the sort of thing you say out loud even to your best friend, because those are things that men say about women, not that women say about women,” Ms. Drexler said. “If you really liked women, you’d be calling that a ‘victory lap,’ not a ‘walk of shame.’ ”

Jimmie John’s had a moment of lapse when they aired a spot in the Super Bowl that shows a man coming home to his wife who is doing the laundry.  Whoa!  Did they forget that 74% of women work and many of them are their customers?  SodaStream took heat for their spot with Scarlett Johansson which broke several rules – mentioning Coke and Pepsi and objectifying a woman as a way to sell the soda maker.

Huggies had their miss when they showed Dads being inattentive to babies with full diapers because, hey, Huggies can handle anything.  They certainly where in tune with the importance of shared responsibilities for children today, but they didn’t catch the nuance that Dads were portrayed as inattentive and non-caring. Stay-at-home dads were irate and created a petition “We’re Dads, Huggies, Not Dummies”.

An advertising friend called me this week and was telling me another story about targeting.  Campaigns for a luxury car didn’t move the needle until they took into account the aspirational buyer.  Their media tracking was able to notice this aspiring buyer. By offering a lease package for these aspirational buyers, sales accelerated nicely.

So what is the lesson here?  Certainly brands must hit the right segment of their target audience and clearly they must trigger the emotion that the product or service has for the buyer.

1.  Look at your target beyond demographics.  What are the psychographics of the buyer?  Why are the self-expressive benefits of your brand? How does the product make them feel?  What are their values?  Two moms can be vastly different.  One can value organic food, yoga and do her own composting, while another can be a price/convenience shopper, with their mobile phone dialed to take-out and restaurants that take coupons.  Find out their tangential interests – what do they pin to Pinterest, follow on Twitter or share on Facebook?

2. Talk to your consumers.  Shocking thought.  Today we can do that in a variety of ways.  We can conduct online or in-person focus groups.  We can turn to social media to see what they are saying and we can use social to have conversations to better understand how to be relevant to them.  We often construct customer journeys to see how a brand fits into a consumers day and life.  Recently some research we did on furniture purchase turned up an interesting fact about a huge national retailer.  The consumers were not in love with the brand; it was just an easy alternative to working with a designer for the less important rooms in their home.  Everything worked together and could be purchased and delivered quicker than designer fare.

3.  Understand the problem your brand will solve for the consumer.  I doubt Nine West had research that said they wanted special shoes for a “Walk of Shame”.  Need states and occasions have long been part of marketing but truly understanding the underlying reason for the product is essential to creating relevant advertising.  If you are advertising cars, some may be eco-friendly and interested in gas mileage while others are seeking safety for their family, or technology to suit their geekiness.

Oh, by the way, Nine West is sticking to their campaign.  So let’s see how it works out for them and see what they do next year!

 

 

 

The Importance of the Female Football Fan

August 16, 2014 § 1 Comment

imageFootball season is upon us and women are gearing up for the season. Yes, women are a real target and marketing to women has never been more important.   Advertisers know who is buying all those wings and chips for the game.  But the female factor goes beyond just supplying the game day food.

“Women are the custodians of most decisions made in the households,” said Mark Waller, the chief marketing officer of the N.F.L. Describing football as “the last great campfire,” which brings families together on Sundays as reliably as church, Waller said women were at the heart of the sport’s most sacred rituals.

The Facts – NFL

More women are regular season viewers of NFL football than NBA and Major League Baseball.  Some 23-28% of women watch between 6 and 10 hours of football per week.

45% of NFL fans are women.  And 55% of women watch football on television. Over the past decade, average viewership of prime-time NFL games has increased by 31 percent to 20.3 million, according to Nielsen.  In 2013, every network that had broadcast games reported increased viewership. Most weeks, in fact, NFL games aren’t just the most-watched sporting events on television — they’re the most-watched thing on TV.

Nine out of 10 top viewed single programs in 2013 were live football events. The only one that wasn’t football was the Oscars. Football has become the only real time event that gathers the whole family in front of the television.

More women watch the Super Bowl than the Grammys or Oscars combined.

The NFL has focused on giving women more than men’s jerseys for the past few years and sales of women’s apparel have tripled over the past four years.

The Facts – The Advertising

Just like we have seen the influence of marketing to women in the Olympics and World Cup Soccer, the top rated commercials during the Super Bowl 2014 definitely appealed to women, Budweiser’s Puppy Love, Dorito’s Cowboy Kid, and Budweiser’s Hero’s Welcome.

The Facts – College Football

39% of college football fans are women. In college, more than 49 million fans turned out to watch a college game in the stands but more than 216 million tuned in to watch a game.

The Facts – At Home

Homegating is a real thing.   Football is as much a tradition for Sundays than going to church?  It is the one place where family and friends can group around a single event.  And eat.  Super Bowl Sunday is the second-largest food consumption day of the year, behind only Thanksgiving, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture.

According to Bud Light, female fans (45-percent) are 10-percent more likely than male fans to socialize during a game.

20% of Fantasy Football Fans are women.

The Facts – Influence

Last year, Barna found that Americans believe athletes have a greater influence than any faith leaders. And in a new 2014 study, more than four in 10 women (41%) strongly agree that sports are an important part of American culture.

More than Just Fans

Women are more likely to be fans for life. Women are more brand loyalists and it seems that football teams are really brands.  But increasingly, women are becoming more than just fans or  grown-up cheerleaders for football. They are playing in football leagues, coaching, sportscasting and taking on referee roles.   Sarah Thomas is a name you will likely here this year as the first female referee in the NFL. She shattered the male dominated profession seven years ago at the collegiate level, officiating games for Conference USA. She was the first female official at the NCAA’s Division I level, and the first to work a college bowl game.

Marketing to Women

Marketing to women is often a delicate science of respecting their gender and not falling into some pink state of condescension. It’s not a world of “pink it and shrink it” anymore.

But the stakes are high for females. The male market is tapped out. Women represent the growing side of the football market. But female football fans are dealing with lots of contradictory issues. Health issues are huge for those moms of budding and current NFL players. Violence often makes headlines with players in the headlines for everything from domestic assault to murder. Women were particularly upset with the slap-on-the-wrist two-game suspension for Ravens Ray Rice who knocked his fiancé unconscious in a casino earlier this year, but he was ultimately handed an indefinite suspension.

And at the same time, we see the tremendous good that comes from the sports community service. Individual players have foundations that work with kids, support charities and volunteer in the community.

But all that pink?   Once a year, the NFL sponsors a breast cancer awareness game where players wear pink shoes and gloves and a portion of the pink NFL merchandise sales goes to the American Cancer Society.

Can football continue to grow?  It seems it will take a deep understanding of women and their role in the game – as mothers, as sports professionals, and as fans.

 

Five Things to Know About 2014 Back-to-School Marketing

July 10, 2014 § Leave a comment

UnknownBack-to-school is in full swing now.  The traditional back-to-school season has changed and marketers need to make note.  The reason for many of these changes are year-round school schedules, just-in-time shopping, online shopping habits and budgets.  The back-to-school season has become more of a pinnacle of an ongoing activity than a confined season.

How big is back-to-school?  The average family will spend $670 on shopping this year, up 5% from 2013 according to the National Retail Federation.   However, 21% of families with children in elementary, middle school or high school reported in a NRF survey they will spend less this year.

Did you know?  Combined school and college spending was estimated at $72.5 billion, making it the second-biggest season for retailers. Winter holiday ranks first at $84 billion and Mother’s Day comes in at third at $21 billion.

Here are five things to know about this year.

1.  Back-to-school shopping starts in July.  Americans began their search as early as June last year.  Google conducted a study during the 2013 season and found that 23% of respondents began back-to-school research before July 4, with nearly two-thirds (65%) starting by the end of July. In contrast, only 35% said they made a purchase by the end of July.  174621

BTS-Content-ConsumptionThe spending is spread out over several months, with traditional spending in August and September.  The early shoppers take advantage fresh merchandise, early bird sales and comparison shopping, while the later shoppers are necessity shopping and maybe taking advantage of end-of-season sales.

One difference in the early and traditional shopper may be their form of shopping.  The early shoppers are using their desktop and tablets to shop, while the more traditional are using mobile devices and shopping in-store.

During back-to-school 2013, competitive pricing was the top use of mobile, with 66 percent of shoppers planning to use their smartphones to obtain price information and 60 percent to obtain discounts, coupons, or sale information–up 15 percentage points from 2012.  There is a whopping 78% of smartphone owners using their mobile devices for shopping.

2.  Just in time shopping.   The mall has been replaced by online and teens are constantly shopping for new ideas.  The world of disposable fashion has lead teens to take advantage of affordable retailers and wait to see what their friends are wearing.  Digital-native students are shopping constantly throughout the year, even if they’re not buying.

Just-in-time shopping also shows that as many as 50% parents only buy what is essential for back to school and then buy additional needs during the holiday season, when they expect the best deals.  It is a way of spreading out the shopping expense to make it more manageable for their budget.  And parents are saving money by buying store-brand items, shopping sales and using coupons.

3. Online is #3 destination.   eMarketer forecasts that digital sales for the back-to-school season will increase 16.0% in 2014.  One-third of all back-to-school shoppers will make an online purchase, and 45% of back-to-college shoppers will head online.  According to Deloitte, among top back-to-school shopping destinations in 2013, 36 percent of consumers shopped online, moving online shopping to the third destination behind discount and office supply/technology stores, a significant jump from the No. 8 position in 2012.

9754-1652-140701-Back_to_School-l4.  College Online Spending Big.  More than $3 of every $5 aimed at back-to-school clothes and supplies is spent on college-bound students.   A PM Digital report shows online shoppers stealing 37% of this market as the online college segment spends over $1,100 per family.  In fact, shopping expenditures are higher online – with 37.3% K-12 and 37.1% college students buying through e-commerce.

5.  Smartphone Tool for Shopping.  During back-to-school 2013, competitive pricing was the top use of mobile, with 66 percent of shoppers planning to use their smartphones to obtain price information and 60 percent to obtain discounts, coupons, or sale information–up 15 percentage points from 2012. There is a whopping 78% of smartphone owners using their mobile devices for shopping.

What should marketers do this season?

1.  Make sure your campaigns are live now and active through September.  To stand out, thing about using video and consumer stories to help tell the story.  Search should be already in place.

2.  Make sure content is available on tablet and mobile.  Don’t forget social. Hashtags like #stapleshasit and L.L.Bean’s #packmentality, which leapt from social media into display, email and print last season, will proliferate in 2014.

3.  Solicit stories from your customers to drive positive reviews.

4.  Time your sales (early-bird and end of season) to match buying periods.

5.  Differentiate between back-to-school and back-to-college.

 

 

The Blurred Lines of Gender Blenders

July 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

ndT8d9KieGender is less of a definer for identity today than it was for previous generations. With Millennials representing 23.5% of the U.S. population, these 18-34 year-olds are changing society in profound ways.

According to the recent Intelligence Group Cassandra Gender survey, more than two-thirds of participants agree that gender does not define a person the way it once did. This survey included 900 people ages 14-34, two-thirds of which are 18-24.  Another 60% think that gender lines are blurred. The younger generations are avoiding conformity, and gender stereotypes are just that. Now there is greater fluidity to transition between genders and find the personal interpretation.

 According to Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow for policy studies in the Family Research Council, stereotypes have faded: “For example, no one today disputes that women can be successful doctors, lawyers, business leaders, or public officials. Such a trend is far different from asserting that differences between the sexes do not exist, or that such differences are entirely a social construct rather than the result of innate biological factors.” 

Here are some additional results from the Cassandra Gender Report:

68% of women and 71% of men felt that it was okay for women to propose to men

95% of women are good with girls playing traditionally male sports

85% of men are okay with stay-at-home dads

94% of women agree with women in the military

81% of men are fine with female breadwinners

From college housing, clothing, language, and parenting we are seeing more gender-neutral trends from the Millennials. Two thirds of the population says that their generation is pushing the boundaries of what feminism and masculinity look like, and the majority is excited about it. The year 2013 included some of the most unisex names to date such as Riley, Peyton, Rowan, and Addison.

But the younger generations are not the only ones noting this gender-free transition. College campuses have been in the lead by creating gender-neutral bathrooms and housing, allowing students to share roommates with any sex. Similarly, state governments have begun changing statutes to include gender-neutral pronouns. Looks like the Millennials are making headway in changing the perception of gender roles.

Post by Claire Whorton, advertising senior at the University of Alabama.

The Lipstick Economy in Iran. Really?

June 23, 2014 § 1 Comment

An Iranian woman checks make up at a cosmetics shop in northern Tehran on May 6, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/Atta Kenare)

An Iranian woman checks make up at a cosmetics shop in northern Tehran on May 6, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/Atta Kenare)

It seems like a contradiction that Iranian women in compulsory veils are avid buyers of make-up, seek out cosmetic surgery and go to house parties to buy fashion.  Thousands of Iranian women are even taking off their veils and publishing pictures of themselves on a Facebook page set up by a London-based Iranian journalist, triggering a debate about the freedom to wear or not wear the hijab.  Only posted in May of this year, the site has attracted thousands of likes.

Iranian women are pushing boundaries, with long held memories of freedoms past. They are entering universities and professions in record numbers.  Maybe lipstick is just the first bright spot in the fundamentalist culture.

Make-up and Mohammed

Believe it or not, Iran is the second-largest cosmetics market in the Middle East in terms of revenue, behind Saudi Arabia, and the world’s seventh biggest.  Women in Iran may wear more make-up than in some western countries.

The Islamic tradition in Iran does not prohibit perfumes or cosmetics.  It is said that even Mohammed wore perfume.  So, one’s face and make-up are their own form of personal expression in a world of covered heads and loose clothing.

tumblr_masshdQBVk1rxdo98o1_1280Now, with a female population of more than 38 million women, the cosmetics industry, despite the economy, is booming.  Some estimate the market at several hundred million dollars, much of it in the grey market.

Recently the French luxury brand Lancome recently announced a return to Iran after decades away.  It is the first time since the 1979 Islamic revolution that a major Western brand has had such a heralded comeback.  No American brands have been sold in Iran since the US embargo of the 1980s.

Cosmetic professionals estimate that Iranian women buy approximately one tube of mascara per month, compared to only one every four months bought by the French.  Iran has a large youth population, most of whom still live with their parents, allowing them money to spend on discretionary small luxuries like make-up.

Cosmetic Surgery in Iran

The desire for facial beauty does not stop there. Iran has the highest rate of nose surgery in the world.  Young people are having cosmetic surgery in the hope of attaining facial features like the actors they see in Hollywood films and  Western satellite television programming.

Maison Shopping and Socializing

This focus on beauty seems to be more than a reaction to the restrictive society in which women in Iran live.  House parties at maisons with boutique clothing have cropped up all over Iran.  Located in homes of the underground merchants, they allow Iranian women to shop and socialize outside of the oppressive societal rules.  They can take off headscarves, shop for clothes and visit with friends.   And bring a type of societal freedom to their lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Salute to Fathers Who Raise Female Leaders

June 14, 2014 § Leave a comment

Fathers DayFathers have a big impact on what their little girls do later in life. I remember my husband taking that first look at our little red-head when she was born and saying, “No one is going to stand in the way of anything she wants to do.”

It seems there is actual research to back up the father’s role in gender equality in the workplace, but the research is a little different than you might imagine; it’s not just about attitudes but more about actions. The study, from the University of British Columbia, shows that households with more gender-egalitarian roles actually inspire girls to wide-reaching career roles. Another case of “it’s not what you say, but what you do.”

What does this mean? In households where parents share household duties, girls were more likely to see their future roles with less gender bias.

“Even when fathers publicly endorsed gender equality, if they retained a traditional division of labor at home, their daughters were more likely to envision themselves in traditionally female-dominant jobs, such as nurse, teacher, librarian, or stay-at-home-mom,” reports the Association for Physiological Science.

As the mother, my gender and work equality beliefs are key in predicting my children’s attitudes toward gender, but, according to the study, the strongest predictor of daughters’ own professional ambitions was their fathers’ approach to household chores.

Why is this important to know?

“This study is important because it suggests that achieving gender equality at home may be one way to inspire young women to set their sights on careers from which they have traditionally been excluded,” says Alyssa Croft, a PhD Candidate in the University of British Columbia’s Dept. of Psychology.

IMG_2016Girls are very sensitive to societal expectations, and are aware of the roles they’d be expected to take as wife, mother and housekeeper.

Back to the Dunham household, I have to thank my husband on this Father’s Day for being an inspiration for our daughter. He has been there to share in everything as we brought up a strong daughter and strong son. He has cooked, folded clothes, fixed cars and even shopped with our children. Today, our daughter is a rising public relations professional.

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