Marketing Approach: Brand Recognition and the Gen Y Kids

This is a guest post from the lovely and talented Lauren Fernandez - who’s making, believe it or not, her first stop here on Life Without Pants as a guest-writer. An Account Executive at Moroch, Lauren frequently writes about PR, community, and branding over at her blog, LAF. If you haven’t already connected with Lauren, you are really missing out. Check out her blog and say hello on Twitter today!

I honestly don’t know if you can market to a generation.

Stereotypes aside, we are all different. Gen Y is a product of their environment growing up. Moral teachings and how to view the world, entitlement and pop culture shaped Generation Y. So how do you reach the masses?

Brand recognition.

To this day, I know the Oscar Mayer commercial songs by heart. I associate food on the go with the brand because of Lunchables. It’s about owning the space that your brand is about – so if the topic comes up, your brand is the first one that comes to mind.

Not everyone can be KodakAmazon or Rainbow Brite – which have a built in audience already. Smaller corporations have to utilize the space – social or not – to determine who their consumers are. Demographics are shifting. Approaches are different. A blanket approach to generations just won’t work.

Grass roots marketing is an approach that should be integrated in the social scheme for brand recognition. Find your brand ambassadors – the ones who will talk about the product, their experience, and showcase it. Build up that foundation so others are curious about what the brand is up to.

So, how can you relate that back to brand recognition? Generation Y in itself trusts their friends and those around them. They crowdsource on social media sites to see what’s best. They turn to Yelp for restaurant recommendations. A grass roots social approach will help brand recognition and effectively market to those consumers that you want to hit.

So what do you think? Is it possible to market to a generation? How do you define demographics? Is brand recognition the true way to go?


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145 Responses
  • Emily Jasper Reply

    It’s funny you mention Rainbow Brite. In college, all my childhood toys seemed to come back on the market like giant explosion. They may have never really gone away, but all of a sudden My Little Ponies and Strawberry Shortcake were on the scene. Even my Playskool Glowworm doll came back. And while I didn’t have kids at the time (and well, still don’t), I was ready to buy up toys that I loved as a kid to share them with my future children. And that is a pretty decent marketing idea. Remember Clear Pepsi? I’d buy that again if it came back…

    • Lauren Fernandez Reply

      I love Rainbow Brite – and it’s a great example of brands that just stick. We re-visit brands that shaped our environment (re: childhood) and those are the ones we stand by. I’d totally buy Clear Pepsi!

      • Matt Cheuvront Reply

        I miss the old “Milton Bradley” days – you know the one’s I’m talking about – where every commercial was for Hungry Hungry Hippos, Crossfire, Gator Golf, Operation, Mouse Trap, Don’t Wake Daddy…the list goes on and on and on. Milton Bradley essentially monopolized the board game world and with EVERY SINGLE commercial that came on, I found myself wanting that game – I “had” to have it. Something you don’t as much of these days. Is it because the “barriers of entry” are lower for the other board game companies (using them as an example) – making it more difficult for the Milton Bradley’s of the world to dominate?

        • Ross Simmonds Reply

          Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we don’t exactly watch channels that board games would be promoted on (Unless you have kids). Its unlikely that we would come across the newest boardgames when were watching CNN or ESPN. However, if we watched Nickelodeon or YTV (Canadian Kids Channel) I’m sure we’d come across several Dora the Explorer and Hannah Montana games that kids go crazy for. I think it has more to do with the fact that we aren’t tuned in like we used to be. Were more likely to see a commercial from Axe, not a commercial from Hasbro (Unless its a drinking game).

          • Ross Simmonds Reply

            So with that said – I agree – Brand Recognition comes first! Develop the ambassadors at a young age and let them run wild with your brand. Great post Lauren & solid conversation everyone…

  • Emily Jasper Reply

    It’s funny you mention Rainbow Brite. In college, all my childhood toys seemed to come back on the market like giant explosion. They may have never really gone away, but all of a sudden My Little Ponies and Strawberry Shortcake were on the scene. Even my Playskool Glowworm doll came back. And while I didn’t have kids at the time (and well, still don’t), I was ready to buy up toys that I loved as a kid to share them with my future children. And that is a pretty decent marketing idea. Remember Clear Pepsi? I’d buy that again if it came back…

    • Lauren Fernandez Reply

      I love Rainbow Brite – and it’s a great example of brands that just stick. We re-visit brands that shaped our environment (re: childhood) and those are the ones we stand by. I’d totally buy Clear Pepsi!

      • Matt Cheuvront Reply

        I miss the old “Milton Bradley” days – you know the one’s I’m talking about – where every commercial was for Hungry Hungry Hippos, Crossfire, Gator Golf, Operation, Mouse Trap, Don’t Wake Daddy…the list goes on and on and on. Milton Bradley essentially monopolized the board game world and with EVERY SINGLE commercial that came on, I found myself wanting that game – I “had” to have it. Something you don’t as much of these days. Is it because the “barriers of entry” are lower for the other board game companies (using them as an example) – making it more difficult for the Milton Bradley’s of the world to dominate?

        • Ross Simmonds Reply

          Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we don’t exactly watch channels that board games would be promoted on (Unless you have kids). Its unlikely that we would come across the newest boardgames when were watching CNN or ESPN. However, if we watched Nickelodeon or YTV (Canadian Kids Channel) I’m sure we’d come across several Dora the Explorer and Hannah Montana games that kids go crazy for. I think it has more to do with the fact that we aren’t tuned in like we used to be. Were more likely to see a commercial from Axe, not a commercial from Hasbro (Unless its a drinking game).

          • Ross Simmonds Reply

            So with that said – I agree – Brand Recognition comes first! Develop the ambassadors at a young age and let them run wild with your brand. Great post Lauren & solid conversation everyone…

  • Catherine Reply

    I think brand recognition is the way to go. I’m right there with you, Lauren, on knowing the Oscar Meyer song by heart, and I think that’s an important part of marketing today (not necessarily songs, but the goal of someone thinking of an item and automatically associating it with your product). Even those ridiculous Hillshire Farms commercials are starting to stick with me, with their “Go Meat!” cheers. Kleenex owns this, too. When you have to blow your nose, do you ask for a tissue or for a Kleenex? And I always say “Band-Aid” rather than… bandage? I don’t even know what else to use for that. And then when I say that, their little jingle pops into my head… “I am stuck on Band-Aid ‘cuz Band-Aid’s stuck on me.”

    Also, I love that you used Rainbow Brite as an example. Favorite toy in the world!

    • Lauren Fernandez Reply

      I agree – I like the approach of owning the brand space, rather than the product space. Consumers don’t like being pushed 24/7 to “buy this product” but if they recognize it and put it ahead? You’re winning.

      Great example on the Kleenex – I use it a lot in brand strategy meetings. :)

      • Matt Cheuvront Reply

        I’ve used this as well – and it’s a great point Catherine – there are so many companies out there who are “it” – you don’t ask for tissue you ask for “Kleenex” – you don’t ask for Soda or Pop (in the south), you ask for “Coke” – the list goes on.

        What’s interesting though – as that these brand ownerships have been around for a long time – just curious, do either of you have examples of “newer” brands that are dominating brand space? One that quickly comes to mind is “IPod” – most people don’t say “MP3 Player” – they say “Ipod”. I have a Zune and I have to catch myself sometimes, lol.

        • Tim Jahn Reply

          Holy crap, they actually sold a Zune? heh :)

          • Matt Cheuvront Reply

            At least two. :) I know Lauren has one as well. I had an Ipod – 3 actually – had issues with each one self destructing on me – so went a different route – love my Zune and it’s sharing possibilities (and haven’t had ANY problems…at least, so far). But I’m not like, anti-Apple or anything.

            • Tim Jahn Reply

              Hmm, here’s a brand loyalty example right here.

              I would never buy a Zune because of what it’s maker, Microsoft, stands for:
              1) they stand for monopolies
              2) they don’t care about security when it comes to their flagship operating system
              3) they don’t believe in open source
              4) they’re more concerned with making as much money as possible rather than destroying IE6 and making the web experiences of millions of internet users more safe and enjoyable

              • Matt Cheuvront Reply

                Well I got it as a Christmas gift from mi madre. So it doesn’t count and not being loyal :p – That being said, I HATE IE with a passion – especially from a web development standpoint – of which I’m sure you can attest to.

              • chuck Reply

                Right, but Apple, on the other hand, LOVES open source and has never done anything anti-competitive?

                • Tim Jahn Reply

                  IE6 alone destroys any defense of Microsoft :) Sorry.

  • Catherine Reply

    I think brand recognition is the way to go. I’m right there with you, Lauren, on knowing the Oscar Meyer song by heart, and I think that’s an important part of marketing today (not necessarily songs, but the goal of someone thinking of an item and automatically associating it with your product). Even those ridiculous Hillshire Farms commercials are starting to stick with me, with their “Go Meat!” cheers. Kleenex owns this, too. When you have to blow your nose, do you ask for a tissue or for a Kleenex? And I always say “Band-Aid” rather than… bandage? I don’t even know what else to use for that. And then when I say that, their little jingle pops into my head… “I am stuck on Band-Aid ‘cuz Band-Aid’s stuck on me.”

    Also, I love that you used Rainbow Brite as an example. Favorite toy in the world!

    • Lauren Fernandez Reply

      I agree – I like the approach of owning the brand space, rather than the product space. Consumers don’t like being pushed 24/7 to “buy this product” but if they recognize it and put it ahead? You’re winning.

      Great example on the Kleenex – I use it a lot in brand strategy meetings. :)

      • Matt Cheuvront Reply

        I’ve used this as well – and it’s a great point Catherine – there are so many companies out there who are “it” – you don’t ask for tissue you ask for “Kleenex” – you don’t ask for Soda or Pop (in the south), you ask for “Coke” – the list goes on.

        What’s interesting though – as that these brand ownerships have been around for a long time – just curious, do either of you have examples of “newer” brands that are dominating brand space? One that quickly comes to mind is “IPod” – most people don’t say “MP3 Player” – they say “Ipod”. I have a Zune and I have to catch myself sometimes, lol.

        • Tim Jahn Reply

          Holy crap, they actually sold a Zune? heh :)

          • Matt Cheuvront Reply

            At least two. :) I know Lauren has one as well. I had an Ipod – 3 actually – had issues with each one self destructing on me – so went a different route – love my Zune and it’s sharing possibilities (and haven’t had ANY problems…at least, so far). But I’m not like, anti-Apple or anything.

            • Tim Jahn Reply

              Hmm, here’s a brand loyalty example right here.

              I would never buy a Zune because of what it’s maker, Microsoft, stands for:
              1) they stand for monopolies
              2) they don’t care about security when it comes to their flagship operating system
              3) they don’t believe in open source
              4) they’re more concerned with making as much money as possible rather than destroying IE6 and making the web experiences of millions of internet users more safe and enjoyable

              • Matt Cheuvront Reply

                Well I got it as a Christmas gift from mi madre. So it doesn’t count and not being loyal :p – That being said, I HATE IE with a passion – especially from a web development standpoint – of which I’m sure you can attest to.

              • chuck Reply

                Right, but Apple, on the other hand, LOVES open source and has never done anything anti-competitive?

                • Tim Jahn Reply

                  IE6 alone destroys any defense of Microsoft :) Sorry.

  • Caleb Gardner Reply

    I for one get tired of being thrown into categories, whether that be Gen Y or Millenial or whatever. I understand the purpose – to be able to strategically segment a market is important to be able to understand it. I guess it just annoys me to be put into a box.

    It’s interesting that your way around that is brand recognition. I generally agree with you, but what about urban Gen Y? I think there’s a trend in young, urban communities to intentionally shun recognized brands for smaller establishments.

    • Lauren Fernandez Reply

      The brands that get it? Have an urban department focused solely on that. I agree with you that it is different, but the brand recognition approach is one that I can stand by – rather than segmenting it so loosely.

      • Caleb Gardner Reply

        True. I guess it’s the best approach out there, considering how segmented our generation is.

        I wonder: what’s your take on brands like Starbucks that have intentionally shed their brand name in places like Seattle in order to market to those urbanites I was talking about?

        • Matt Cheuvront Reply

          Just jumping in here Caleb – but I see what you’re saying. You see it here in Chicago – out in my “hood” of Schaumburg – it’s all Chili’s, Applebees, and TGI Friday’s. But good luck finding even ONE of those ANYWHERE in the city. Why? Because of the “urban” more “eclectic” crowd that appreciates the small businesses, family run operations, etc. (I’ve done a lot of thinking on this being that my goal is to one day open a coffee shop – whether it be here or somewhere else – and obviously one of the big challenges is finding a community that embraces the “small business” over the convenience of a Starbucks.

          What do you think defines a community that holds a smaller business on a pedestal over a larger corporate identity?

  • Caleb Gardner Reply

    I for one get tired of being thrown into categories, whether that be Gen Y or Millenial or whatever. I understand the purpose – to be able to strategically segment a market is important to be able to understand it. I guess it just annoys me to be put into a box.

    It’s interesting that your way around that is brand recognition. I generally agree with you, but what about urban Gen Y? I think there’s a trend in young, urban communities to intentionally shun recognized brands for smaller establishments.

    • Lauren Fernandez Reply

      The brands that get it? Have an urban department focused solely on that. I agree with you that it is different, but the brand recognition approach is one that I can stand by – rather than segmenting it so loosely.

      • Caleb Gardner Reply

        True. I guess it’s the best approach out there, considering how segmented our generation is.

        I wonder: what’s your take on brands like Starbucks that have intentionally shed their brand name in places like Seattle in order to market to those urbanites I was talking about?

        • Matt Cheuvront Reply

          Just jumping in here Caleb – but I see what you’re saying. You see it here in Chicago – out in my “hood” of Schaumburg – it’s all Chili’s, Applebees, and TGI Friday’s. But good luck finding even ONE of those ANYWHERE in the city. Why? Because of the “urban” more “eclectic” crowd that appreciates the small businesses, family run operations, etc. (I’ve done a lot of thinking on this being that my goal is to one day open a coffee shop – whether it be here or somewhere else – and obviously one of the big challenges is finding a community that embraces the “small business” over the convenience of a Starbucks.

          What do you think defines a community that holds a smaller business on a pedestal over a larger corporate identity?

  • Jackie Adkins Reply

    I do agree that brand recognition is important, since, after all how can they buy it if they don’t know about it, but isn’t that true for any generation?

    I think the key thing about the grassroots marketing approach is that it revolves completely around trust, which is what I think is the big thing for Gen Y. Our ears turn up at the sound of the Oscar Mayer song or the mention of Lite Brite’s because we remember them from our childhood. Since they were a big part of our lives, we trust that brand.

    With newer products, these grassroots campaigns focus on the brand ambassadors, who are likely their most passionate fans, because we, as consumers, trust them a lot more than we trust a sales pitch.

    So, I think I would argue that *trust* may be (at least one of) the most important things when marketing to Gen Y.

    • Ryan Stephens Reply

      I find myself in agreement with you, Jackie, and also with Spinks as well. I don’t think you can market effectively to an entire age segment anymore than I think you can boil what should be a relatively complicated process down to brand recognition.

      Lauren’s a super smart person who know doubt knows a lot more about it than what she shared in this post. Maybe it was meant to elicit discussion and maybe it was meant to drive some of Matt’s sizeable traffic and community to LAF, but I think she was really getting at something with the notion of Gen Y and *trust* — something you extracted as the crux of your comment. I think I’d like to see that particular phenomenon expounded on in the future (or in the comments).

      • Lauren Fernandez Reply

        Wow, what a compliment!

        :) Dang, you figured out my blogging secret! I usually try to leave out information so that my community has a chance to weigh in as well. I find that discussion helps me to learn and further define my points – it’s why my posts tend to be 300 words or less.

        Trust is HUGE with Gen Y. We were taught by parents (even more so than other generations) that we deserve to be treated with respect. That mentality is then further taken by brands – once we trust something, we tend to stick with it. Think of pizza – I usually order Pizza Hut because I recognize and trust the brand. I DON’T order Dominoes because of bad experience and food poisoning.

        • Tim Jahn Reply

          I fail to see how is trust any bigger with Gen Y than past generations.

          Think back to your parent’s time, or their parents time. Kids ran around outside playing ball. Doors were unlocked. Children would go out to play early in the morning and come back late in the day. There weren’t any cell phones, parents didn’t know exactly where their kids were.

          Isn’t that a much larger sense of trust than that of today?

          • Jackie Adkins Reply

            Well I think trusting a brand and the sort of trust you’re talking about here are two completely different things, but I do agree that it’s equally important across all generations today. As for in the past, I would imagine trust wasn’t as important 40 years ago in marketing as it is today, but I obviously wasn’t around then, so that’s more of a hunch than anything.

            • Tim Jahn Reply

              I think it’s all related though. If you can’t trust your neighbors or fellow citizens enough to leave your doors unlocked, you’re probably more weary of brands marketing to you too.

    • Lauren Fernandez Reply

      Trust is definitely the most important part when it comes to Gen Y and marketing approaches. We are a passionate generation, driven by digital with information at our fingertips. We ARE creatures of habit. I used to sit in the exact same seat in my journalism classes everyday. We like comfort zones. We like to know what we are getting into. Once that trust is laid as the foundation, that brand recognition will come.

      Really good thought, J.

      • Matt Cheuvront Reply

        Right on L – there is a whole thread of comments on this one, so I’ll just say:

        1) I love the open-ended approach L. While my writing may be more “long-winded” I also try to position my posts as a platform of discussion without “giving it all up”. Well done.

        2) On trust: Jackie and Lauren, you guys hit it – We are “creatures of habit” – maybe even more so than previous generations – I know it is not a “new” thing, but I think about going to the grocery store with my mom – she is perfectly content with buying an off-brand product to save a few cents, where as I – when I was younger and even still today, will buy the “name” brand because I think it’s “safe” – it wasn’t made in a crappy factory across the world, and I’m willing to spend a few extra cents to get that reassurance.

        Now, keep in mind – this is all perception, and for all I know, probably a false one – but that’s what we are – creatures of habit who like to stick within our comfort zones and are less willing to think “outside the box”.

        Great discussion everyone.

  • Jackie Adkins Reply

    I do agree that brand recognition is important, since, after all how can they buy it if they don’t know about it, but isn’t that true for any generation?

    I think the key thing about the grassroots marketing approach is that it revolves completely around trust, which is what I think is the big thing for Gen Y. Our ears turn up at the sound of the Oscar Mayer song or the mention of Lite Brite’s because we remember them from our childhood. Since they were a big part of our lives, we trust that brand.

    With newer products, these grassroots campaigns focus on the brand ambassadors, who are likely their most passionate fans, because we, as consumers, trust them a lot more than we trust a sales pitch.

    So, I think I would argue that *trust* may be (at least one of) the most important things when marketing to Gen Y.

    • Ryan Stephens Reply

      I find myself in agreement with you, Jackie, and also with Spinks as well. I don’t think you can market effectively to an entire age segment anymore than I think you can boil what should be a relatively complicated process down to brand recognition.

      Lauren’s a super smart person who know doubt knows a lot more about it than what she shared in this post. Maybe it was meant to elicit discussion and maybe it was meant to drive some of Matt’s sizeable traffic and community to LAF, but I think she was really getting at something with the notion of Gen Y and *trust* — something you extracted as the crux of your comment. I think I’d like to see that particular phenomenon expounded on in the future (or in the comments).

      • Lauren Fernandez Reply

        Wow, what a compliment!

        :) Dang, you figured out my blogging secret! I usually try to leave out information so that my community has a chance to weigh in as well. I find that discussion helps me to learn and further define my points – it’s why my posts tend to be 300 words or less.

        Trust is HUGE with Gen Y. We were taught by parents (even more so than other generations) that we deserve to be treated with respect. That mentality is then further taken by brands – once we trust something, we tend to stick with it. Think of pizza – I usually order Pizza Hut because I recognize and trust the brand. I DON’T order Dominoes because of bad experience and food poisoning.

        • Tim Jahn Reply

          I fail to see how is trust any bigger with Gen Y than past generations.

          Think back to your parent’s time, or their parents time. Kids ran around outside playing ball. Doors were unlocked. Children would go out to play early in the morning and come back late in the day. There weren’t any cell phones, parents didn’t know exactly where their kids were.

          Isn’t that a much larger sense of trust than that of today?

          • Jackie Adkins Reply

            Well I think trusting a brand and the sort of trust you’re talking about here are two completely different things, but I do agree that it’s equally important across all generations today. As for in the past, I would imagine trust wasn’t as important 40 years ago in marketing as it is today, but I obviously wasn’t around then, so that’s more of a hunch than anything.

            • Tim Jahn Reply

              I think it’s all related though. If you can’t trust your neighbors or fellow citizens enough to leave your doors unlocked, you’re probably more weary of brands marketing to you too.

    • Lauren Fernandez Reply

      Trust is definitely the most important part when it comes to Gen Y and marketing approaches. We are a passionate generation, driven by digital with information at our fingertips. We ARE creatures of habit. I used to sit in the exact same seat in my journalism classes everyday. We like comfort zones. We like to know what we are getting into. Once that trust is laid as the foundation, that brand recognition will come.

      Really good thought, J.

      • Matt Cheuvront Reply

        Right on L – there is a whole thread of comments on this one, so I’ll just say:

        1) I love the open-ended approach L. While my writing may be more “long-winded” I also try to position my posts as a platform of discussion without “giving it all up”. Well done.

        2) On trust: Jackie and Lauren, you guys hit it – We are “creatures of habit” – maybe even more so than previous generations – I know it is not a “new” thing, but I think about going to the grocery store with my mom – she is perfectly content with buying an off-brand product to save a few cents, where as I – when I was younger and even still today, will buy the “name” brand because I think it’s “safe” – it wasn’t made in a crappy factory across the world, and I’m willing to spend a few extra cents to get that reassurance.

        Now, keep in mind – this is all perception, and for all I know, probably a false one – but that’s what we are – creatures of habit who like to stick within our comfort zones and are less willing to think “outside the box”.

        Great discussion everyone.

  • Srinivas Rao Reply

    Great ideas Lauren. I’ve grown up with many of the brands you mentioned. I think that brands are challenged more than ever today trying to get through all the noise. I was listening to an audio version of Seth Godin’s book “Permission Marketing” and I think brands really are going to be built very differently. The importance having a personalized relationship with your customer has become more important than ever today. One example that comes to mind is the fact that now you can go to the Nike web site and customize your shoes. I thought that was brilliant. For example, let’s say you create a custom design for a shoe, share it on Twitter and Facebook, and all of a sudden it spreads like wildfire. Nike now has a shoe that can be mass marketed under a brand, but started out purely through a grassroots effort. I think you’ll see more and more of that in the future.

    • Lauren Fernandez Reply

      It’s why social media is a bit easier for big brands – audience is already there. Grass roots has been big, but it has an even bigger home on social media sites.

      Youre right, brands will be built differently – but they have to fall back on the foundation of brand recognition and trust.

      Thanks for the comment – made me think a bit about viral/grass roots approach!

      • Matt Cheuvront Reply

        Lauren you’re bringing a very interesting point to the table here that I don’t think a lot of us talk about. YES – those relationships are important, and YES – in building those relationships you seek to become a “household” name or “recognized” brand. Laying that foundation through a viral, ongoing, grassroots approach is extremely important, albeit no easy task for a new company looking to achieve that status. Being in the right place at the right time, engaging with people at that precise moment when they have the need or want – that is a critical point as well (something Scott talks about in “New Rules of Marketing & PR”).

        • Tim Jahn Reply

          I think the grassroots approach works so well because a) the community feels like they’re helping building the brand and b) the community doesn’t feel like they’re being sold to.

          With these two ideas, I think the possibilities are endless.

  • Srinivas Rao Reply

    Great ideas Lauren. I’ve grown up with many of the brands you mentioned. I think that brands are challenged more than ever today trying to get through all the noise. I was listening to an audio version of Seth Godin’s book “Permission Marketing” and I think brands really are going to be built very differently. The importance having a personalized relationship with your customer has become more important than ever today. One example that comes to mind is the fact that now you can go to the Nike web site and customize your shoes. I thought that was brilliant. For example, let’s say you create a custom design for a shoe, share it on Twitter and Facebook, and all of a sudden it spreads like wildfire. Nike now has a shoe that can be mass marketed under a brand, but started out purely through a grassroots effort. I think you’ll see more and more of that in the future.

    • Lauren Fernandez Reply

      It’s why social media is a bit easier for big brands – audience is already there. Grass roots has been big, but it has an even bigger home on social media sites.

      Youre right, brands will be built differently – but they have to fall back on the foundation of brand recognition and trust.

      Thanks for the comment – made me think a bit about viral/grass roots approach!

      • Matt Cheuvront Reply

        Lauren you’re bringing a very interesting point to the table here that I don’t think a lot of us talk about. YES – those relationships are important, and YES – in building those relationships you seek to become a “household” name or “recognized” brand. Laying that foundation through a viral, ongoing, grassroots approach is extremely important, albeit no easy task for a new company looking to achieve that status. Being in the right place at the right time, engaging with people at that precise moment when they have the need or want – that is a critical point as well (something Scott talks about in “New Rules of Marketing & PR”).

        • Tim Jahn Reply

          I think the grassroots approach works so well because a) the community feels like they’re helping building the brand and b) the community doesn’t feel like they’re being sold to.

          With these two ideas, I think the possibilities are endless.

  • Laney Reply

    I think you can’t really market to a generation anymore. Take for example Gossip Girl, its on the CW, it started as teen books – but now the people that watch is span from teens to their parents, to people in their late 20s or early 30s. Marketers have tapped into the emotional part of selling. Brands may still be trying to market a particular person, but if someone outside of that niche is interested and wants it, they will take it.

    • Lauren Fernandez Reply

      Good point on TV shows and demographics – I think it also plays into why TV advertising is having a difficult time. You can’t market to a generation – they have to tap into the emotions, just like you said.

      • Matt Cheuvront Reply

        That’s a great point Laney. TBS must have a hell of a time pinpointing who their demographic is when it comes to selling ad space – with all of the “older” shows like Seinfeld, Everybody Loves Raymond, and Friends – the demographic ranges from people younger than us – to my parents who religiously keep the remote on TBS almost all day (following in my father’s footsteps there). Thus making it MUCH more difficult to target a “generation” population…

      • Ross Simmonds Reply

        I’d argue that a younger generation (10 and under) is one generation that can be influenced by a marketing campaign successfully. The only influences on a kids opinions is that of their peers and of course their parents/guardians. If a brand is able to establish a strong connection with people when they are in this stage of their lives it will carry with them for quite some time.

        If you target someone when their younger, its easier to leave a mark. The biases aren’t present and if your friends think somethings cool, you’re probably going to think its cool too! Look at the Muppets for example and the relevance they still have when put on the computer screens of Gen Y and Gen X peeps. The videos of them singing Christmas Carols and Bohemian Rhapsody didn’t go viral because of great production. They went viral because it tugged at our heart strings and reminded of us of “the good ol days.” They were marketed towards us when we were younger and as a result they stuck in the back of our memories.

        The youngest generation is the best generation to market. If you can create a connection with them when they’re young – You will have them for life.

  • Laney Reply

    I think you can’t really market to a generation anymore. Take for example Gossip Girl, its on the CW, it started as teen books – but now the people that watch is span from teens to their parents, to people in their late 20s or early 30s. Marketers have tapped into the emotional part of selling. Brands may still be trying to market a particular person, but if someone outside of that niche is interested and wants it, they will take it.

    • Lauren Fernandez Reply

      Good point on TV shows and demographics – I think it also plays into why TV advertising is having a difficult time. You can’t market to a generation – they have to tap into the emotions, just like you said.

      • Matt Cheuvront Reply

        That’s a great point Laney. TBS must have a hell of a time pinpointing who their demographic is when it comes to selling ad space – with all of the “older” shows like Seinfeld, Everybody Loves Raymond, and Friends – the demographic ranges from people younger than us – to my parents who religiously keep the remote on TBS almost all day (following in my father’s footsteps there). Thus making it MUCH more difficult to target a “generation” population…

      • Ross Simmonds Reply

        I’d argue that a younger generation (10 and under) is one generation that can be influenced by a marketing campaign successfully. The only influences on a kids opinions is that of their peers and of course their parents/guardians. If a brand is able to establish a strong connection with people when they are in this stage of their lives it will carry with them for quite some time.

        If you target someone when their younger, its easier to leave a mark. The biases aren’t present and if your friends think somethings cool, you’re probably going to think its cool too! Look at the Muppets for example and the relevance they still have when put on the computer screens of Gen Y and Gen X peeps. The videos of them singing Christmas Carols and Bohemian Rhapsody didn’t go viral because of great production. They went viral because it tugged at our heart strings and reminded of us of “the good ol days.” They were marketed towards us when we were younger and as a result they stuck in the back of our memories.

        The youngest generation is the best generation to market. If you can create a connection with them when they’re young – You will have them for life.

  • Sam Davidson Reply

    I think the key isn’t to try to reach an entire generation to be iconic. The key is to develop a product/service/company that becomes iconic for a niche market. While mass market is where the billions of dollars are found, a niche market can provide you with a nice living and a hell of a stepping stone to the next place you want to go. I think emerging Gen Y brands – American Apparel, Threadless, TOMS – play to a niche market before trying to have mass appeal.

    So yes, be iconic. But be iconic with a few before trying to be iconic with everyone.

    Looking forward to reading your blog (going to subscribe now).

    • Lauren Fernandez Reply

      “The key is to develop a product/service/company that becomes iconic for a niche market”

      I love this. It’s a simple approach that shows a brand how they can register. Think of cult movies like Big Lebowski. You might have never seen it, but you can still identify with it in a way. Same with Kleenex always being the “tissue.”

      Building a foundation will get you a lot farther than trying to appeal to the masses straight off.

    • Tim Jahn Reply

      “be iconic with a few before trying to be iconic with everyone.”

      That’s awesome, Sam! And I think it’s dead on. Trying to be everything to everyone will almost always result in being nothing to no one.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Great point here Sam – thing big but start small is something I firmly believe in – you can have high aspirations, dreams of becoming a multi-billion dollar business – but it all starts with one – create a niche and interact with that specific market while creating brand “evangelists” in the process – the more of the message you can get others to spread for you, the better. Cheers!

  • Sam Davidson Reply

    I think the key isn’t to try to reach an entire generation to be iconic. The key is to develop a product/service/company that becomes iconic for a niche market. While mass market is where the billions of dollars are found, a niche market can provide you with a nice living and a hell of a stepping stone to the next place you want to go. I think emerging Gen Y brands – American Apparel, Threadless, TOMS – play to a niche market before trying to have mass appeal.

    So yes, be iconic. But be iconic with a few before trying to be iconic with everyone.

    Looking forward to reading your blog (going to subscribe now).

    • Lauren Fernandez Reply

      “The key is to develop a product/service/company that becomes iconic for a niche market”

      I love this. It’s a simple approach that shows a brand how they can register. Think of cult movies like Big Lebowski. You might have never seen it, but you can still identify with it in a way. Same with Kleenex always being the “tissue.”

      Building a foundation will get you a lot farther than trying to appeal to the masses straight off.

    • Tim Jahn Reply

      “be iconic with a few before trying to be iconic with everyone.”

      That’s awesome, Sam! And I think it’s dead on. Trying to be everything to everyone will almost always result in being nothing to no one.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Great point here Sam – thing big but start small is something I firmly believe in – you can have high aspirations, dreams of becoming a multi-billion dollar business – but it all starts with one – create a niche and interact with that specific market while creating brand “evangelists” in the process – the more of the message you can get others to spread for you, the better. Cheers!

  • Courtney Reply

    I love Jackie’s trust comment.

    And it is especially important with new and small businesses.

    One example I can think of are new restaurants here in Dallas that I follow on Twitter. They aren’t always trying to “sell.” Instead, they build rapport, offer specials, get involved in our tweet ups and work functions, and make themselves our friend.

    And I recommend them constantly.

    “Feel Good” branding hits me everytime.

    • Lauren Fernandez Reply

      Feel good hits me every time too – and if they go out of their way to make it about me? I’m going to recommend them non-stop. I’d rather be a friend then be sold to – nothing more irritating than the latter approach.

      • Matt Cheuvront Reply

        “Feel Good Marketing” – doesn’t look like the business name is taken yet (although someone is sitting on the domain) – Who wants to go in starting a business together? :)

        So many small companies are driving this idea home and it’s really working for them – I can rattle of MANY examples of companies both in Nashville and in Chicago that are doing great things by incorporating Social Media and making their customers feel TRULY special and appreciated. This is what the future of marketing is all about.

        The question is, once the business gets bigger, will it lose site of these relationships that got them to where they are? It seems to happen time and time again.

  • Courtney Reply

    I love Jackie’s trust comment.

    And it is especially important with new and small businesses.

    One example I can think of are new restaurants here in Dallas that I follow on Twitter. They aren’t always trying to “sell.” Instead, they build rapport, offer specials, get involved in our tweet ups and work functions, and make themselves our friend.

    And I recommend them constantly.

    “Feel Good” branding hits me everytime.

    • Lauren Fernandez Reply

      Feel good hits me every time too – and if they go out of their way to make it about me? I’m going to recommend them non-stop. I’d rather be a friend then be sold to – nothing more irritating than the latter approach.

      • Matt Cheuvront Reply

        “Feel Good Marketing” – doesn’t look like the business name is taken yet (although someone is sitting on the domain) – Who wants to go in starting a business together? :)

        So many small companies are driving this idea home and it’s really working for them – I can rattle of MANY examples of companies both in Nashville and in Chicago that are doing great things by incorporating Social Media and making their customers feel TRULY special and appreciated. This is what the future of marketing is all about.

        The question is, once the business gets bigger, will it lose site of these relationships that got them to where they are? It seems to happen time and time again.

  • Passingthemic Reply

    Great article about brand recognition and addressing the issue if consumers will still purchase or be loyal to a product/services based off ‘feel-good’ feelings and memories of yesteryear.

    However, as a discriminating Gen-Y consumer myself, I’ve learned to discern if a product and/or service is decent based on good ole’ merit, quality and price-point.

    I will always love Mr. Whipple for all his uniqueness, Mr Clean for his bulging biceps, and Count Dracula cereal, with its sugar-laced particles – it made my elementary school mornings much more enjoyable. But, nowadays I skip those products when walking down the florescent-lit grocery aisles because there’s a cheaper, more durable product that lines the shelves.

    Sell-out? Perhaps. But in times like these, strong branding should be followed up w/ competitive product development and pricing. Generational marketing or not – consumers will remember a campaign, but find it harder to actually convert an emotion into a sale.

    • William Stentz Reply

      Good point – and you’re not a sellout. Fact is – needs change which is why you find yourself reaching for Smart Start, but smiling as you pass Count Chocula. These needs unfortunately can be meet in so many ways, that if you don’t have that emotional connection to the brand and or product, you don’t feel bad about reaching for something else. So without the aggressive competitive product development, while you may love the brand, you will still walk on by.

    • Lauren Fernandez Reply

      I had to train myself to go for the generic brands in college. Seriously. My mom was a brand loyalist from the beginning, and it was very difficult to part with those I trusted. Bank account won out in the end, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t stare longingly at the aisle that held my trust. :)

      • Matt Cheuvront Reply

        I think you make some excellent points here Passingthemic – and like Lauren, I had to very much train myself to survive on “off brands” throughout college and now, I’m much more in tune with the “budget” items that are just as good (if not better) than the name brands.

        William brings up a great point that needs change – once we assume financial responsibility and don’t have Mom to buy us our Fruity Pebbles, we start thinking about the repercussion of purchasing a $6.00 box of cereal. But, lucky for the cereal companies of the world (using them as an example) there will always be kids pulling on the pants leg of mom and dad, crying and begging in the grocery store for their favorite cereal. Fruity Pebbles aren’t going anywhere anytime soon :)

  • Passingthemic Reply

    Great article about brand recognition and addressing the issue if consumers will still purchase or be loyal to a product/services based off ‘feel-good’ feelings and memories of yesteryear.

    However, as a discriminating Gen-Y consumer myself, I’ve learned to discern if a product and/or service is decent based on good ole’ merit, quality and price-point.

    I will always love Mr. Whipple for all his uniqueness, Mr Clean for his bulging biceps, and Count Dracula cereal, with its sugar-laced particles – it made my elementary school mornings much more enjoyable. But, nowadays I skip those products when walking down the florescent-lit grocery aisles because there’s a cheaper, more durable product that lines the shelves.

    Sell-out? Perhaps. But in times like these, strong branding should be followed up w/ competitive product development and pricing. Generational marketing or not – consumers will remember a campaign, but find it harder to actually convert an emotion into a sale.

    • William Stentz Reply

      Good point – and you’re not a sellout. Fact is – needs change which is why you find yourself reaching for Smart Start, but smiling as you pass Count Chocula. These needs unfortunately can be meet in so many ways, that if you don’t have that emotional connection to the brand and or product, you don’t feel bad about reaching for something else. So without the aggressive competitive product development, while you may love the brand, you will still walk on by.

    • Lauren Fernandez Reply

      I had to train myself to go for the generic brands in college. Seriously. My mom was a brand loyalist from the beginning, and it was very difficult to part with those I trusted. Bank account won out in the end, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t stare longingly at the aisle that held my trust. :)

      • Matt Cheuvront Reply

        I think you make some excellent points here Passingthemic – and like Lauren, I had to very much train myself to survive on “off brands” throughout college and now, I’m much more in tune with the “budget” items that are just as good (if not better) than the name brands.

        William brings up a great point that needs change – once we assume financial responsibility and don’t have Mom to buy us our Fruity Pebbles, we start thinking about the repercussion of purchasing a $6.00 box of cereal. But, lucky for the cereal companies of the world (using them as an example) there will always be kids pulling on the pants leg of mom and dad, crying and begging in the grocery store for their favorite cereal. Fruity Pebbles aren’t going anywhere anytime soon :)

  • Amelia Woods Reply

    This sounds bad, but this reminds me that kids can be great to advertise to because when you grow up with a product you think of it first. I do the same thing with saying Band-Aid or Kleenex. I spent some time with my cousin’s 7 year old daughter and she sang jingles for many brands and knew taglines. It was a little creepy, but cool for me as an advertising person. Brand recognition is great, but I know it kills a few fans once EVERYONE knows about it. For example, I loved facebook when it was all college students. Now it’s everyone and just isn’t the same to me. I barely use it.

    • Lauren Fernandez Reply

      Kids are great to market to – because they usually aren’t cynics or have pre-conceived notions of brands. They can be catered to, and a foundation can be built from someone who doesn’t have as much knowledge about a specific product.

      Good point about brand recognition becoming too big – I tend to not like some bands once they go mainstream.

      • Tim Jahn Reply

        I think you both bring up an important point here, regarding once something goes mainstream. There’s really two audiences there: the audience that loves things that are unique, not mainstream, and small, and then the audience that loves mainstream, pop culture material.

        The key is to stay focused on the audience you’re most interested in, rather than trying to please both.

        • Matt Cheuvront Reply

          It’s that whole concept of loving a band – being their biggest fan since day one, and then hearing them on top 40 radio – it just sort of ruins it for you, but it happens time and time again. Very rarely do brands side with the “personal” connection with their fans over the (probably) wise business decision of going more mainstram…

  • Amelia Woods Reply

    This sounds bad, but this reminds me that kids can be great to advertise to because when you grow up with a product you think of it first. I do the same thing with saying Band-Aid or Kleenex. I spent some time with my cousin’s 7 year old daughter and she sang jingles for many brands and knew taglines. It was a little creepy, but cool for me as an advertising person. Brand recognition is great, but I know it kills a few fans once EVERYONE knows about it. For example, I loved facebook when it was all college students. Now it’s everyone and just isn’t the same to me. I barely use it.

    • Lauren Fernandez Reply

      Kids are great to market to – because they usually aren’t cynics or have pre-conceived notions of brands. They can be catered to, and a foundation can be built from someone who doesn’t have as much knowledge about a specific product.

      Good point about brand recognition becoming too big – I tend to not like some bands once they go mainstream.

      • Tim Jahn Reply

        I think you both bring up an important point here, regarding once something goes mainstream. There’s really two audiences there: the audience that loves things that are unique, not mainstream, and small, and then the audience that loves mainstream, pop culture material.

        The key is to stay focused on the audience you’re most interested in, rather than trying to please both.

        • Matt Cheuvront Reply

          It’s that whole concept of loving a band – being their biggest fan since day one, and then hearing them on top 40 radio – it just sort of ruins it for you, but it happens time and time again. Very rarely do brands side with the “personal” connection with their fans over the (probably) wise business decision of going more mainstram…

  • David Spinks Reply

    Nope, there is no way to market to an entire generation. You might as well market to all of mankind while you’re at it.

    A generation is made up of a very diverse range of characteristics and age is too broad population to tie to specific characteristics.

    You could however break it down a bit. You could target Gen-Y students attending 4 year colleges. Or Gen-Y athletes. You’d probably be able to market to subpopulations of Gen-Y, but never Gen-y as a whole

    David
    Community Manager, Scribnia.com

    • Lauren Fernandez Reply

      But wouldn’t the diversity still be there, even with those breakdowns? I guess sub-populations could relate to general demographics – are they too general? Do they really hit the target?

      • Matt Cheuvront Reply

        There’s still diversity, and there always will be, but David’s right – you can’t market to an ENTIRE generation – there’s TOO MUCH diversity there. At least at these “micro demographic” levels, you can pinpoint your target more efficiently.

  • David Spinks Reply

    Nope, there is no way to market to an entire generation. You might as well market to all of mankind while you’re at it.

    A generation is made up of a very diverse range of characteristics and age is too broad population to tie to specific characteristics.

    You could however break it down a bit. You could target Gen-Y students attending 4 year colleges. Or Gen-Y athletes. You’d probably be able to market to subpopulations of Gen-Y, but never Gen-y as a whole

    David
    Community Manager, Scribnia.com

    • Lauren Fernandez Reply

      But wouldn’t the diversity still be there, even with those breakdowns? I guess sub-populations could relate to general demographics – are they too general? Do they really hit the target?

      • Matt Cheuvront Reply

        There’s still diversity, and there always will be, but David’s right – you can’t market to an ENTIRE generation – there’s TOO MUCH diversity there. At least at these “micro demographic” levels, you can pinpoint your target more efficiently.

  • Travis Brock Reply

    I agree with the brand recognition, but at different ages, the brand is recognized differently as already discussed. Younger years, things were cool and fun, now they are nostalgic and memorable. The brand is the same is still the same, but the marketing of the brand has changed a bit.

    The brand of an organization stays the same or similar over a period of time. What changes is the creative execution of the brand that reaches different generations. Take for example McDonald’s, McD’s is McD’s and the brand is the same. But when they market/advertise their brand to kids, they use Ronald McDonald, the Happy Meal, and other Gen Y and Z creative approaches. When they advertise to adults, they focus on health or value of their menu. The implementation of the brand is also different based on the generation. For older generations, it may be newspaper ads and mid-day TV ads. But for younger generations, it may be social media, online advertising, and Saturday morning cartoon or primetime advertising. Going to your Oscar Meyer example, back then the Oscar Meyer song was used on a regular basis to sell to kids using kids, but now it is also being used to sell to parents of kids with the nostalgia of the song being used in primetime TV ads.

    The brand is always the same (or similar) across the board and over the years to help maintain familiarity and recognition – its the execution and implementation that is different across the generations that help build the recognition in a way that is relevant and appropriate for each generation.

    • Travis Brock Reply

      I also agree with David Spinks that niche marketing to a generational subsection is needed in the execution and implementation of the brand to reach a very specific and targeted group of people.

    • Lauren Fernandez Reply

      Do you think there is enough distance between childhood and the general Gen Y, though? They are still identifying with those brands, and it’s not because of nostalgia. With my dad, those same brands would probably bring about nostalgia.

      Those brands that take simple approaches and embrace familiarity usually succeed – and probably why they’ve been around so long.

  • Travis Brock Reply

    I agree with the brand recognition, but at different ages, the brand is recognized differently as already discussed. Younger years, things were cool and fun, now they are nostalgic and memorable. The brand is the same is still the same, but the marketing of the brand has changed a bit.

    The brand of an organization stays the same or similar over a period of time. What changes is the creative execution of the brand that reaches different generations. Take for example McDonald’s, McD’s is McD’s and the brand is the same. But when they market/advertise their brand to kids, they use Ronald McDonald, the Happy Meal, and other Gen Y and Z creative approaches. When they advertise to adults, they focus on health or value of their menu. The implementation of the brand is also different based on the generation. For older generations, it may be newspaper ads and mid-day TV ads. But for younger generations, it may be social media, online advertising, and Saturday morning cartoon or primetime advertising. Going to your Oscar Meyer example, back then the Oscar Meyer song was used on a regular basis to sell to kids using kids, but now it is also being used to sell to parents of kids with the nostalgia of the song being used in primetime TV ads.

    The brand is always the same (or similar) across the board and over the years to help maintain familiarity and recognition – its the execution and implementation that is different across the generations that help build the recognition in a way that is relevant and appropriate for each generation.

    • Travis Brock Reply

      I also agree with David Spinks that niche marketing to a generational subsection is needed in the execution and implementation of the brand to reach a very specific and targeted group of people.

    • Lauren Fernandez Reply

      Do you think there is enough distance between childhood and the general Gen Y, though? They are still identifying with those brands, and it’s not because of nostalgia. With my dad, those same brands would probably bring about nostalgia.

      Those brands that take simple approaches and embrace familiarity usually succeed – and probably why they’ve been around so long.

  • William Stentz Reply

    I work with a smaller niche automotive brand, and awareness is our biggest obstacle. We do a lot of engagement marketing with consumers in an effort to combat a popular opinion. It’s effective, but slow going. I for one do believe that awareness is the foundation for brand engagement.

    Is it possible to market to a generation? Absolutely. Certain generations use specific words or phrases and have ways of representing basic ideals that shaped their attitudes and beliefs (sociologists make their living on this concept).

    How do you define demographics? By mindset. A brand is a state of being – and the challenge is developing that emotional connection between your target audience and the brand name. It’s not about talking to A18 – 45, it’s about talking to people within A18 – 45 that share your same brand ideals and say “that could be the brand for me.” For example, Gen Y loves Facebook because the brand of Facebook was built around connecting with friends – end of story – where MySpace for example focused on the ability to customize yourself.

    As Lauren points out – it’s Gen Y’s desire to TRUST a brand that is most important. That’s not a product attribute – it’s an emotional connection (Introducing the all new Droid – complete with Trust 2.0! Not so much…). But these emotional connections take time to develop, and even more time to maintain. This is what makes brand maintenance so difficult in an time when most marketing directors serve for 1.5 years and are let go. But to build this emotional connection – to engage the customer, you need to let customer’s know you’re out there. So the final question: Is brand recognition the true way to go? To a point – yes. While a customer needs to know about a brand, and be able to recognize it is important, but recognition in what way? I submit that you need to not only recognize, but identify the brand on an emotional level. So few products out there do this well. Look at Harley Davidson, especially their film “Creed” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pGcHPYFJTM). This is branding, recognition and emotional connection all in one. It talks to a specific mindset, an emotion – not an age group or a specific generation. In my mind, the biggest benefit to our marketing revolution is the ability for us to connect with brands through a larger peer group than ever before – finding like minded individuals that validate our point of view, ultimately making us feel comfortable. Awareness is still key, and our tried and true mediums like TV, Cable, Radio etc are perfect for that…. but if a company doesn’t have the mechanisms in place for the customer to engage the brand in their own space, those are the brands that fade into the darkness. This is also why grass roots initiatives are so effective when executed properly.

    • Lauren Fernandez Reply

      Can demographics ALWAYS be defined by mindset, though? I think my mindset is a bit different than it was when I was a teenager, but I’m still identifying with the same brands. Environment has a huge role, though.

      I agree with you on why grassroots is effective – you have to be able to engage with the brand and trust that your consumers will be advocates.

      I had never heard of the Harley Davidson video, but WILL be checking it out. Thanks!

      • William Stentz Reply

        Ah, nature vs. nurture. True, environment plays a part, even on a subconscious level. That’s why a recent study showed that even a 3-yr-old can show prejudicial tendencies (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122864641). You can’t have one without the other.

        To buy into the concept that mindset transcends demographics, and thereby is the most viable way to target your audience is to first believe that two people, in completely different generations, can have the same affinity to a brand, and for the same reasons because they have the same mindset. Why is it that a 18-year-old and a 32-year-old are both waiting in line for the release of Call of Duty – Modern Warfare 2? Would you talk to them each differently? Or how about the fact that a 15-year-old convinced his parents to purchase the new Droid, and the 52-year-old business man infront of him got the last one?

        These common threads are key to marketing your brand. And if you think about it, that’s why the social networking is also key – because you have groups of liked minded individuals together in the same place praising your products.

        There are brands out there that offer products that are completely different from one another. Since I’m automotive, I’ll use the example of having say a performance devision and a more mainstream devision. The affinity to the brand exists as a single emotion – a single unifying thread between the two. If you tap into that, the possibilities for full manufacture growth are limitless.

  • William Stentz Reply

    I work with a smaller niche automotive brand, and awareness is our biggest obstacle. We do a lot of engagement marketing with consumers in an effort to combat a popular opinion. It’s effective, but slow going. I for one do believe that awareness is the foundation for brand engagement.

    Is it possible to market to a generation? Absolutely. Certain generations use specific words or phrases and have ways of representing basic ideals that shaped their attitudes and beliefs (sociologists make their living on this concept).

    How do you define demographics? By mindset. A brand is a state of being – and the challenge is developing that emotional connection between your target audience and the brand name. It’s not about talking to A18 – 45, it’s about talking to people within A18 – 45 that share your same brand ideals and say “that could be the brand for me.” For example, Gen Y loves Facebook because the brand of Facebook was built around connecting with friends – end of story – where MySpace for example focused on the ability to customize yourself.

    As Lauren points out – it’s Gen Y’s desire to TRUST a brand that is most important. That’s not a product attribute – it’s an emotional connection (Introducing the all new Droid – complete with Trust 2.0! Not so much…). But these emotional connections take time to develop, and even more time to maintain. This is what makes brand maintenance so difficult in an time when most marketing directors serve for 1.5 years and are let go. But to build this emotional connection – to engage the customer, you need to let customer’s know you’re out there. So the final question: Is brand recognition the true way to go? To a point – yes. While a customer needs to know about a brand, and be able to recognize it is important, but recognition in what way? I submit that you need to not only recognize, but identify the brand on an emotional level. So few products out there do this well. Look at Harley Davidson, especially their film “Creed” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pGcHPYFJTM). This is branding, recognition and emotional connection all in one. It talks to a specific mindset, an emotion – not an age group or a specific generation. In my mind, the biggest benefit to our marketing revolution is the ability for us to connect with brands through a larger peer group than ever before – finding like minded individuals that validate our point of view, ultimately making us feel comfortable. Awareness is still key, and our tried and true mediums like TV, Cable, Radio etc are perfect for that…. but if a company doesn’t have the mechanisms in place for the customer to engage the brand in their own space, those are the brands that fade into the darkness. This is also why grass roots initiatives are so effective when executed properly.

    • Lauren Fernandez Reply

      Can demographics ALWAYS be defined by mindset, though? I think my mindset is a bit different than it was when I was a teenager, but I’m still identifying with the same brands. Environment has a huge role, though.

      I agree with you on why grassroots is effective – you have to be able to engage with the brand and trust that your consumers will be advocates.

      I had never heard of the Harley Davidson video, but WILL be checking it out. Thanks!

      • William Stentz Reply

        Ah, nature vs. nurture. True, environment plays a part, even on a subconscious level. That’s why a recent study showed that even a 3-yr-old can show prejudicial tendencies (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122864641). You can’t have one without the other.

        To buy into the concept that mindset transcends demographics, and thereby is the most viable way to target your audience is to first believe that two people, in completely different generations, can have the same affinity to a brand, and for the same reasons because they have the same mindset. Why is it that a 18-year-old and a 32-year-old are both waiting in line for the release of Call of Duty – Modern Warfare 2? Would you talk to them each differently? Or how about the fact that a 15-year-old convinced his parents to purchase the new Droid, and the 52-year-old business man infront of him got the last one?

        These common threads are key to marketing your brand. And if you think about it, that’s why the social networking is also key – because you have groups of liked minded individuals together in the same place praising your products.

        There are brands out there that offer products that are completely different from one another. Since I’m automotive, I’ll use the example of having say a performance devision and a more mainstream devision. The affinity to the brand exists as a single emotion – a single unifying thread between the two. If you tap into that, the possibilities for full manufacture growth are limitless.

  • Scott Hale Reply

    I’m glad you put some focus on Brand Ambassadors in your post. If you can’t market to an entire Generation, you can market to early adopters and influential members of segments within Gen Y. Like Jackie and Ryan have mentioned before me, we can generalize that trust is becoming a major tool in advertising across all generations. We’ve all seen polls that indicate nobody trusts TV commercials anymore, and we also know that people are searching for peer reviews before making decisions.

    I think Brand Recognition happens on a very personal level these days and when your product has ambassadors with access to that personal level, you can be top-of-mind. As much negative press the term has received lately, I’m cautious to call this kind of marketing viral marketing – but that’s really what it is. Targeted Viral Marketing (or word-of-mouth if you like that better). Your post gets to the power of these types of marketing when used correctly.

    • Lauren Fernandez Reply

      I think Brand Recognition = niche marketing…. at least at first. You have to plant the seed for the tree to grow. Those ambassadors will know your brand like the back of their hand, and they are extremely important to your efforts.

      Agreed on the top-of-mind approach – I wish more realized that!

      (I don’t trust commercials as much, but I still watch.)

    • Travis Brock Reply

      I personally love the use of brand ambassadors to reach target audiences. They are more believable and trustworthy than general advertising as you mention Scott. I actually wrote on using brand ambassadors in higher education marketing at the beginning of the month. Theyare a great way to pull people into the brand experience – http://brandmanagersnotebook.wordpress.com/2010/01/08/the-higher-ed-brand-spokesperson/

      • Matt Cheuvront Reply

        You guys hit it on the head – as Lauren seeds, the best approach I’ve seen is planting the seeds that (hopefully) grow into thriving plants. Word of mouth is where it’s at – it may take the most time, it may not mean immediate results, but over time, having a thriving community of brand evangelists is the ticket to a long and prosperous future.

  • Scott Hale Reply

    I’m glad you put some focus on Brand Ambassadors in your post. If you can’t market to an entire Generation, you can market to early adopters and influential members of segments within Gen Y. Like Jackie and Ryan have mentioned before me, we can generalize that trust is becoming a major tool in advertising across all generations. We’ve all seen polls that indicate nobody trusts TV commercials anymore, and we also know that people are searching for peer reviews before making decisions.

    I think Brand Recognition happens on a very personal level these days and when your product has ambassadors with access to that personal level, you can be top-of-mind. As much negative press the term has received lately, I’m cautious to call this kind of marketing viral marketing – but that’s really what it is. Targeted Viral Marketing (or word-of-mouth if you like that better). Your post gets to the power of these types of marketing when used correctly.

    • Lauren Fernandez Reply

      I think Brand Recognition = niche marketing…. at least at first. You have to plant the seed for the tree to grow. Those ambassadors will know your brand like the back of their hand, and they are extremely important to your efforts.

      Agreed on the top-of-mind approach – I wish more realized that!

      (I don’t trust commercials as much, but I still watch.)

    • Travis Brock Reply

      I personally love the use of brand ambassadors to reach target audiences. They are more believable and trustworthy than general advertising as you mention Scott. I actually wrote on using brand ambassadors in higher education marketing at the beginning of the month. Theyare a great way to pull people into the brand experience – http://brandmanagersnotebook.wordpress.com/2010/01/08/the-higher-ed-brand-spokesperson/

      • Matt Cheuvront Reply

        You guys hit it on the head – as Lauren seeds, the best approach I’ve seen is planting the seeds that (hopefully) grow into thriving plants. Word of mouth is where it’s at – it may take the most time, it may not mean immediate results, but over time, having a thriving community of brand evangelists is the ticket to a long and prosperous future.

  • Freddy Reply

    Definitely possible to market to a generation, however further segmentation is necessary to reach specific goals.

    There are unique qualities that can be observed in an entire generation like you mentioned. Demographics are measurable & therefore and statistically relevant. So for Gen Y, hours watching TV may be a relevant measure to differentiate between other gens. I also like to dissect psychographics, how people feel & view certain issues or situations.

    It’s fascinating how Gen Y’ers were raised on a TV, which often included new ways of learning & interacting with the world (i.e. sesame street & mr. roger’s). The younger generations (born in the 90’s) have grown up with Blue’s Clues and Dora & are used to even more brand engagement. I think it’s funny when little kids start shouting back at the TV.

    All of this influences how we engage with media & therefore brands. In my opinion, Gen Y depends on brands a lot more than previous generations to form identity. If you notice, ads aimed at GEN Y rarely sell you something, they’re just cool. The “I’m a MAC” commercial is a good example.

    Brand recognition is definitely a starting point. I also know the Oscar Mayers song but I don’t buy it. Some sort of engagement needs to happen to get Gen Y into action (buying). This makes me think, is Gen Y less brand loyal than other generations?

    • Lauren Fernandez Reply

      Just to use me as an example for TV watching – I didn’t watch a lot of TV. My demographics were very similar to other kids, but we are influenced by our environment and parents.

      What I did do was observe what my mom bought at the store, what labels she bought, what my friends were wearing – I was influenced by THEIR brand trust.

      I identify with brands that I recognize – I think it goes past a starting point.

      • Freddy Reply

        Great points, we are a product of our time.

        I do identify with certain brands but what is causing me to buy or not buy? Brand recognition does not mean I will take action. However, it may mean that in the future.

        Thanks for creating this convo.

  • Freddy Reply

    Definitely possible to market to a generation, however further segmentation is necessary to reach specific goals.

    There are unique qualities that can be observed in an entire generation like you mentioned. Demographics are measurable & therefore and statistically relevant. So for Gen Y, hours watching TV may be a relevant measure to differentiate between other gens. I also like to dissect psychographics, how people feel & view certain issues or situations.

    It’s fascinating how Gen Y’ers were raised on a TV, which often included new ways of learning & interacting with the world (i.e. sesame street & mr. roger’s). The younger generations (born in the 90’s) have grown up with Blue’s Clues and Dora & are used to even more brand engagement. I think it’s funny when little kids start shouting back at the TV.

    All of this influences how we engage with media & therefore brands. In my opinion, Gen Y depends on brands a lot more than previous generations to form identity. If you notice, ads aimed at GEN Y rarely sell you something, they’re just cool. The “I’m a MAC” commercial is a good example.

    Brand recognition is definitely a starting point. I also know the Oscar Mayers song but I don’t buy it. Some sort of engagement needs to happen to get Gen Y into action (buying). This makes me think, is Gen Y less brand loyal than other generations?

    • Lauren Fernandez Reply

      Just to use me as an example for TV watching – I didn’t watch a lot of TV. My demographics were very similar to other kids, but we are influenced by our environment and parents.

      What I did do was observe what my mom bought at the store, what labels she bought, what my friends were wearing – I was influenced by THEIR brand trust.

      I identify with brands that I recognize – I think it goes past a starting point.

      • Freddy Reply

        Great points, we are a product of our time.

        I do identify with certain brands but what is causing me to buy or not buy? Brand recognition does not mean I will take action. However, it may mean that in the future.

        Thanks for creating this convo.

  • Nancy VanReece Reply

    Here’s the thing – I’m considered a Baby Boomer on paper but I really like everything that is happening now way more than I did in the early 70’s.
    Yes – I still tend to buy the brands my mother did but I actually think about the impact of each thing that becomes part of my life.
    Still – you are not getting me to switch from PeterPan to Jiffy .. just not happening.

  • Nancy VanReece Reply

    Here’s the thing – I’m considered a Baby Boomer on paper but I really like everything that is happening now way more than I did in the early 70’s.
    Yes – I still tend to buy the brands my mother did but I actually think about the impact of each thing that becomes part of my life.
    Still – you are not getting me to switch from PeterPan to Jiffy .. just not happening.

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    So first – before diving into responding to a lot of the comments above – which I promise to get to first thing in the AM while I’m sipping my morning latte (today has been nuts, my apologies), I wanted to give some of my own thoughts – that may have been discussed, but what I was thinking as I reviewed this before publishing.

    In short, no, I don’t think it’s possible to market to EVERYONE – whether it me a demographic, generation, etc. New Media is beckoning us to be much more creative in the approach. As the tools at our disposal evolve, so should our methods.

    I love the point you make here:

    “They crowdsource on social media sites to see what’s best. They turn to Yelp for restaurant recommendations. A grass roots social approach will help brand recognition and effectively market to those consumers that you want to hit.”

    It’s not about finding EVERYONE – it’s about finding the RIGHT ones – the ones that an entire community will rally around and trust. Leveraging those “brand evangelists” is paramount in any successful marketing strategy in this day and age. We are much more likely to trust our peers than a company persona talking down to us.

    Great post Lauren – clearly a great discussion above as well – I’ll be diving in head first in the AM!

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    So first – before diving into responding to a lot of the comments above – which I promise to get to first thing in the AM while I’m sipping my morning latte (today has been nuts, my apologies), I wanted to give some of my own thoughts – that may have been discussed, but what I was thinking as I reviewed this before publishing.

    In short, no, I don’t think it’s possible to market to EVERYONE – whether it me a demographic, generation, etc. New Media is beckoning us to be much more creative in the approach. As the tools at our disposal evolve, so should our methods.

    I love the point you make here:

    “They crowdsource on social media sites to see what’s best. They turn to Yelp for restaurant recommendations. A grass roots social approach will help brand recognition and effectively market to those consumers that you want to hit.”

    It’s not about finding EVERYONE – it’s about finding the RIGHT ones – the ones that an entire community will rally around and trust. Leveraging those “brand evangelists” is paramount in any successful marketing strategy in this day and age. We are much more likely to trust our peers than a company persona talking down to us.

    Great post Lauren – clearly a great discussion above as well – I’ll be diving in head first in the AM!

  • Tanner Reply

    The biggest single factor I see in building positive Brand Identity for Gen Y is being

    1. Authentic – We can spot fakes real easily now. So if a blog post is supposed to be thought of as written by a CEO but it is not, we can most likely recognize it as being faked an unauthentic thus hurting brand identity.

    2. Connection – We need a connection with the brand in some way. We are constantly connected through the internet and social media, we thrive on connection. If brands are not atttempting to connect with us then it hurts their brand identity. Not only just connecting, but going above and beyond connecting, doing something remarkable. Like GaryV said, sooner or later, I am going to want a brand to tweet @ me if I tweet at them sooner or later. That will be expected, but what willl they do to go above and beyond that and make them stand out?

    3. Trust – This goes along with the first two. Trust in the basis of any healthy relationship and that is what Brand is formed upon, perceptions from the relationships that are built around the brand. Brand is simply what people perceive it to be. Trust goes long way in brand identity.

    Cheers!
    Tanner

    • Josh Reply

      I really like this conversation. What do you think about older brands that are well-established trying to connect with a younger/diverse crowd such as Y? I mean is there any hope for the big old corporation to reconnect, or are these much smaller niche competitors going to steal the rug out from under them? I see the word “trust” a lot, but I also have read that Y has a general mistrust- especially for larger companies and companies that, maybe, our parents are into.

      • William Stentz Reply

        Actually, there could be more opportunity than we think. A study done two yeats ago showed that Gen Y buyers automotive purchase reasons mirrored the same reasons as the Boomers. But I think we all aggree that every company has an opportunity to sell, but that each needs to be very careful about how they interact post sale.

      • Tanner Reply

        There is definitely hope for older brands as they tend to have so much capital that it is easier for them to market the way they want to. They just need to do it in a different way if they want to connect with us.

        Much smaller niche companies connect with us on such a different level that we look up to them as someone who we feel close too. They mean so much more to us than the giants out there. Some big companies are actually hitting smaller niche markets. For example, Gap started Athleta which is a small niche of active women’s clothing.

  • Tanner Reply

    The biggest single factor I see in building positive Brand Identity for Gen Y is being

    1. Authentic – We can spot fakes real easily now. So if a blog post is supposed to be thought of as written by a CEO but it is not, we can most likely recognize it as being faked an unauthentic thus hurting brand identity.

    2. Connection – We need a connection with the brand in some way. We are constantly connected through the internet and social media, we thrive on connection. If brands are not atttempting to connect with us then it hurts their brand identity. Not only just connecting, but going above and beyond connecting, doing something remarkable. Like GaryV said, sooner or later, I am going to want a brand to tweet @ me if I tweet at them sooner or later. That will be expected, but what willl they do to go above and beyond that and make them stand out?

    3. Trust – This goes along with the first two. Trust in the basis of any healthy relationship and that is what Brand is formed upon, perceptions from the relationships that are built around the brand. Brand is simply what people perceive it to be. Trust goes long way in brand identity.

    Cheers!
    Tanner

    • Josh Reply

      I really like this conversation. What do you think about older brands that are well-established trying to connect with a younger/diverse crowd such as Y? I mean is there any hope for the big old corporation to reconnect, or are these much smaller niche competitors going to steal the rug out from under them? I see the word “trust” a lot, but I also have read that Y has a general mistrust- especially for larger companies and companies that, maybe, our parents are into.

      • William Stentz Reply

        Actually, there could be more opportunity than we think. A study done two yeats ago showed that Gen Y buyers automotive purchase reasons mirrored the same reasons as the Boomers. But I think we all aggree that every company has an opportunity to sell, but that each needs to be very careful about how they interact post sale.

      • Tanner Reply

        There is definitely hope for older brands as they tend to have so much capital that it is easier for them to market the way they want to. They just need to do it in a different way if they want to connect with us.

        Much smaller niche companies connect with us on such a different level that we look up to them as someone who we feel close too. They mean so much more to us than the giants out there. Some big companies are actually hitting smaller niche markets. For example, Gap started Athleta which is a small niche of active women’s clothing.

  • Tim Jahn Reply

    I’m with ya Lauren, I don’t think you can market to an entire generation.

    But how far does brand loyalty go? For example, many generic products (food, medicine, etc.) are almost the exact same product as the name brand, just at a lower price with less attractive packaging. Does that make them worse quality? I don’t think so.

    I think there are some types of products and services that brand loyalty applies more to (like salons, movie theaters). If I’m picking up some croissants from Jewel, there’s little reason not to go with the generic brand.

  • Tim Jahn Reply

    I’m with ya Lauren, I don’t think you can market to an entire generation.

    But how far does brand loyalty go? For example, many generic products (food, medicine, etc.) are almost the exact same product as the name brand, just at a lower price with less attractive packaging. Does that make them worse quality? I don’t think so.

    I think there are some types of products and services that brand loyalty applies more to (like salons, movie theaters). If I’m picking up some croissants from Jewel, there’s little reason not to go with the generic brand.

  • GirlApproved Reply

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