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The Weight of Marketing to Children

Parents have a right to be concerned about the childhood obesity epidemic and the link to marketing food products to children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that obesity has more than tripled over the past 30 years, among children ages 6 to 11 (7% to 20%), and in teens ages 12 to 19 prevalence rates have tripled (5% to 18%).

While marketing sugary foods to children is thought to be a main culprit of this unhealthy trend, there are many additional factors that contribute. Sedentary lifestyle, and lack of exercise are also heavy contributors to childhood obesity. Personally I am of the parental-responsibility approach when it comes to marketing to children. I realize this may be a touchy subject because there are numerous parenting styles; however, the adult makes the purchasing decisions. Ads can appeal to children all they want but ultimately the parents have the purchasing power. Parents have the ability to say “no” to children, they also have the ability to say “go” to children to encourage activity (have I crossed the line yet with my opinion).

There are ethical concerns as with any advertising, namely touting superficial attributes and understating the lesser-quality characteristics. Advertisers should beware of not adequately portraying the product because consumers are not afraid to question the company’s motives. New media is available and free to be utilized whether advertising to adults or to children. Companies should employ ethical standards when marketing to children; however, it is the parent’s responsibility to oversee children’s eating habits to avoid any possible issues.

Property rights: A Double Edged Sword

The Internet has created serious issues regarding property and privacy rights. Stealing the ideas, work, or identity of others has become simplified due to the broad use of the Internet. A major enabler of this intellectual theft… accessibility. Accessibility eases the process for those who intentionally or unintentionally steal. It may seem as though information is free for the taking; however, just because information is accessible doesn’t mean it is acceptable to copy without permission or proper citation.

There must be some regulations to protect users who earn a living through what they publish to the Internet. Abolishing property rights would stifle creativity and limit the amount of information people or companies willingly post online. On the flip side, too many regulations would also stifle creativity. Consider China’s strict online restrictions. The Chinese government is targeting social media sites as well as certain words. They aggressively censor Internet use; deleting individual massages that contain restricted works or phrases.

 

Property rights protect the blood, sweat, and tears that people/companies put into their work. While there must be regulations, there must also be a limit to regulations. Not every tweet or post should be protected. People should learn to practice restraint when disclosing any information.

The Locality of Mobile Marketing

Mobile media is one of the fastest growing marketing vehicles. And why not?  I know I carry my cell phone everywhere. It is one of the few items that I am never without. Apparently I am not the only one… According to a comScore report, during the months of April, May, and June 2011 over 234 million Americans used mobile devices. Microsoft Tag released an infographic highlighting mobile use in 2011. Highlights include mobile internet usage will overtake desktop internet usage in 2014, and in 2011 more than 50% of all “local” searches are done from a mobile device. Consider this clip from Google about “The Mobile Movement.”

Marketers must capitalize on this medium to reach consumers where they are. Location is a key element in reaching consumers and being relevant in their daily lives. Integrating the online and offline worlds is a fundamental way to appeal to consumers. Imagine you walk by a store and receive a mobile message advertising a coupon to said store. Well hello coupon, don’t mind if I do. What an opportunity to draw in an otherwise inattentive potential consumer. Consumers are already performing mobile searches of local businesses and events, so why not connect their real world with their virtual world to promote businesses and deals. Mobile marketing is an excellent source for guiding consumer behavior by presenting applicable ads at a convenient time.

 

Socially Acceptable

Oh the mobile forms of social interaction! Facebook and Twitter are the widely used social sites that facilitate online conversation. Essentially, these media forms take on the role of bonding people over common interests. They become representative of personal affiliations and groups that consumers want to be “seen” participating in. Over prolonged use consumers come to trust these online communities; they become the acceptable form of interaction. Therefore, businesses must be integrated in the conversation across all platforms.

Using social media can boost brand recognition by putting a company directly where consumers assemble. Creating company pages on these sites is a good start; however, there must be a plan for directing the conversation. Complete consumer control over the direction of the conversation is not a good idea. The brand must be positively affected by the social media conversation. To cultivate this positive image there must be guidance from the brand themselves on their sites. Companies must take an active role while allowing consumers to have a voice. Being diligent in responding and posting also bolsters trust and positive association with the brand. A clear company policy combats negative remarks (i.e. using profanity or making threats) and permits censoring. Otherwise negative comments should not be supressed but addressed immediately and professionally to mitigate the situation and preserve the consumer relationship.

Social Media is important for marketers because it offers diverse tactics at a relatively low cost when compared with traditional media. They communicate directly with your existing consumers or “friends,” and drive traffic to primary websites. A social media presence aids in establishing a company persona and building an external community, which cultivates a socially acceptable brand.

Behold the Blog!

Oh behold the blog! Proving that the consumers’ voice may ring truer than the company, the unofficial blog is a great way to lend positive publicity to the brand image directly from the mouth of the user(s). These blogs can be useful to companies because they offer a different view of the products or services. Unofficial blogs touch on areas that are of concern to the user, often things that companies overlook or deem trivial. The aesthetic appearance of the unofficial blog can vary from looking official and endorsed to looking pretty drab and informal. The skill and expertise of the blogger affects the appeal of the page and the credibility of the blog.

There are those that get it right… Like IKEA’s unofficial blog, which posts creative uses for the furniture and assembly directions on a site that is so well put together it almost looks endorsed. Then there are those that get it wrong… Like Google’s unofficial blog, which consists more of ranting and outdated information than helpful posting all on a dull, poorly put together site.

Marketers must pay attention to those blogs that garner attention. The unofficial nature of these blogs allow brands to grasp the consumer’s view of the brand image and key in to possible problematic areas. Consumers utilize these blogs to get an unadulterated feel of the company or products. Sometimes official blogs can feel very edited, and often they don’t address all of the issues consumers are concerned with. Unofficial blogs tap into the real-world aspect of the brand, and facilitate a credible information source for consumers.

Brands must keep a finger on the pulse of the consumer. Tracking the unofficial blog is a great way to grasp the consumers’ image of the brand. It keys companies in on areas to develop and topics to address. So, behold the blog! And officially track the unofficial.

Brands of “Shorts”

With ads being reduced more and more, from the 30 second spot to the 15 second spot, it is no wonder that brands are looking at new ways to capture the attention of the audience. Recently some big brands have been venturing into the movie industry. Creating “shorts,” or entertainment based movies that are typically under 30 minutes in length. Leading the way was BMW in 2005 with their series of shorts titled “The Hire” and starring Clive Owens. These shorts have rich entertainment value, focusing more on the plot and cinematography than the branding (which is still apparent).

Other luxury brands are taking this creative plunge as well. Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Oliver Peoples have produced short films bent on capturing the attention of the viewers. These shorts have fantastic cinematography and beautiful images embedded in a fascinating short film. Brands capitalize on their creativity and status to produce films with will-known directors and actors. The combination of big names is attention getting in itself. Though the famous names don’t hurt, these films must also have entertainment value and some sort of storyline or message. No one wants to watch an extended commercial!

Of course not every brand is getting it right. Chanel’s short “Tale of a Fairy” completely missed the mark. Aside from the beautiful clothing, it was lacking a plot and oh, maybe some acting skills. This film offers poor cinematography and no entertainment value. Similar to the film industry, not all brands produce award-winning shorts. Occasionally there are the cinematographic gems that hold the viewers attention and have a positive impact on the brand image.

The Social Community

Why use social media sites? Are they really that vital to your brand? What should you consider when using social media channels?

First of all… of course they are vital! Social media is a way to facilitate a conversation, act as customer service, or announce promotions. And here is the clincher… consumers can respond and discuss any events or issues. Social media sites are just that… social. They allow 2-way conversation between your brand and your consumers. Consumers can have an interest in your company and participate and interact to whatever degree they choose. Social media and blogs dominate American’s time online, with Facebook being the most used U.S. website. Other social media sites fare well, though so far none can touch Facebook. Pinterest is rated just behind Facebook, StumbleUpon, and Twitter in overall traffic, and ranked higher than LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube, impressive stats for a site that started just two years ago. This is the power behind social media traffic. Consumers are socially active and looking for their brands.

Think of social media sites of communities, and “friends” or “followers” are residents of said communities. These communities are vital to your brands existence because the residents want to be there. They value their communities and what they get from the communal experience and interaction. Buying into a brand is like saying to the world “I value this brand and want to join their community.” That interaction is crucial to consumer awareness, and brand value. When consumers see brands interacting and caring it makes even big brands seem accessible, like a concerned and compassionate mayor acting on behalf of his/her community.

And now the communal building blocks…

Be available: Address issues or consumer posts in a timely and respectful manor (timeliness being an essential trait of effective social media conversation, especially when dealing with businesses).

Monitor all traffic: Watch that the conversation is relevant and positively represents your brand. Be active and spark conversation.

Don’t edit posts: An all positive feed reads as phony, maintain brand integrity by responding to negative comments, only remove posts if they don’t adhere to language and policy guidelines.

Recognize social media channels as marketing tools: Market events and promotions using social media to drive traffic and facilitate conversation. Be active on all channels and bring unity to the conversation.

Practice brand integrity: Utilize similar fonts and colors to represent a unified image across all channels. Ensure the various mediums have a consistent look and convey the same message concerning brand image.

 

Any more building blocks? Respond with any additional recommendations or comments.

The Brick-and-Mortar of Website Design

These days having a company website is as essential as having a brick-and-mortar store location. Websites are an extension of the brand image and fundamental part of customer service. They can expand business by offering an interactive experience for consumers.

There are many contributing factors to what makes a website effective; the most crucial is the design of the site. Consumers make split decisions about sites determining the credibility and usability based on the aesthetic appeal. It can be overwhelming for any designer to create a site that catches the consumer’s eye while conveying reliability, all in a fraction of a second. In some cases, web designers go over the top and try to incorporate too many design elements in each page. Simpler may be better when designing a site depending on how users interact and what they expect from the company. Following a simple checklist can ensure your site is visually interesting and distinctive.

  • Set Clear Goals
  • Organize Information and Pages
  • Experiment with Different Layouts
  • Create and Develop a Personality
  • Be Confident in Design

Content is another critical element in the success of a website. While the design may draw a consumer in, the content is what keeps them coming back. It doesn’t matter how visually pleasing a site is, if the site doesn’t adequately convey the correct information users will be deterred. Content should be clear and user-centered to fulfill consumer’s needs and expectations. Content must also convey the intended brand message and reinforce the brand image.

Knowing the consumers is vital in creating a website that is usable and successful. The online experience must be as good as or better than the physical experience to ensure customer retention and prevent negative feedback. Think of you website as your digital brick-and-mortar location, put as much into one as you put into the other.

Lanes Have Been Added to the Road Less Traveled

Minority marketing has come a long way in recent years. From a dusty road not traveled, to a rapidly growing interstate of marketing and advertising. Minorities are rapidly growing in both size and buying power – in 2009 the buying power was $910 billion for African-Americans and $978 billion for Hispanics. Marketing to these groups can be tricky and must entail a solid understanding of different ethnicities, cultures, regions, languages, and generations. It all boils down to knowing the target audience. The structure of a campaign is much like the foundation of a highway system; getting the basics right will determine whether the structure will hold up, or crack and give way under traffic.

We are a diverse nation. Embracing and understanding these differences allows for effective campaign rather than a guessing game of marketing strategies. Nearly half of the nation’s growth over the past decade is due to growth among Hispanics. Millennials are the largest generation thus far; and wield a tremendous buying power. To avoid marketing “accidents” it is imperative that marketers not only understand their audience, but also understand how their audience interacts with media. Knowing how the target minority audience consumes media will enable a structurally sound highway that will facilitate numerous travels.

Hello world!

Well, this is a first for me! I am not the most technically savvy person to be blogging about emerging media. I mean I can figure out a digital camera and install surround sound, but I am probably the last person in the world without a smart phone. I interact with emerging media in a Facebooking/researching blogs for school kind of way. I consider myself a pragmatic and am certainly not an early adopter of new media; however, the rest of the world is.

Emerging media is all the rage in the business world, marketing world and beyond. According to Nielsen Research nearly half of the mobile devices owned in the US are smartphone devices. Facebook, the social media site, boasts over 800 million active users. So yes, emerging media matters. Not only does it matter, but it is also influencing nearly every aspect of our daily lives.

And so here I am blogging my way through this IMC course. Writing about hot topics in emerging media, facilitated by the insightful discussions between my classmates and I. I will address a new or different issue every week. Feel free to comment; I am always willing to consider new ideas!

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