ARTICLES - Check these out from Advertising Age

1. Special Report from Advertising Age: Eco-Marketing

2. Social Networking Reaches Near Full Penetration Among Teens and 'Tweens
Study Finds 71% of Them Connect to a Social Net at Least Weekly

By Abbey Klaassen
Published: June 25, 2007
A correction has been made in this story. See below for details.

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- While 96% of online tweens and teens have used social networking technologies, 71% of online tweens and teens connect to a social network at least once a week, according to a study and white paper being released today from Alloy Media & Marketing, a youth-oriented marketing firm. And nearly half engaged with a brand in the space in the past month. . . .

"The operative distinction they're making is: 'Do not interrupt me en route to a connection with one of my peers or in the midst of a conversation,'" she said. "They're saying: 'Enhance or facilitate my social-networking experience. Offer me utilities to enhance my production process or tools to help me better able to express or engage myself.'"

In other words, give them freebies: utilities, cool downloads, exclusive content and other items of value. "Mix their music or animate their backgrounds or offer a countdown to a special day," Ms. Skey said.

[We need to brainstorm how to do this for RE3.org!]

Certain categories had endemic interest among kids, not surprisingly entertainment and technology.

Ms. Skey also suggested there were ways for marketers without natural youth interest to attach themselves to utilities and services that kids would be interested in. An insurance company could, for example, sponsor educational content or a company could launch a cause-related campaign or a campaign that involves points and rewards for things kids are interested in. "Straight forward old-school reward systems are attractive and enable choice," she said.

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story reported 96% of online tweens and teens connect to a social network at least once a week. In fact, 96% of online tweens and teens have reported using social networking technologies, while 71% connect weekly.

3. Why Brand Veneer Must Reflect a Real Soul
Sustainable Branding: Five Steps to Gaining the Approval of the Environmentally Conscientious Consumer

By Greg Owsley
Published: June 25, 2007

"I'll admit it: I'm a sucker for a company that demonstrates it has a real soul." It was the opinion of just one individual in a focus group of beer drinkers I sat in on last year, but it inspired head nodding around the room. The moderator had posed the question, "Are a company's social and environmental values and practices a part of your purchasing decision?"

Walking the talk: Further evidence that New Belgium Brewing makes sustainable business practices a core value: its latest campaign, featuring people who have found whimsical solutions to environmental sustainability.

Not your typical question to ask in a beer-consumption study, but these are atypical times for any provider of goods and services. . . .

Our individual seeking authentic companies and his focus group friends-for-an-evening are hardly alone. A few months later, a survey we handed out to 612 good-beer drinkers came back with 39% claiming they actively go out of their way to support socially and environmentally responsible companies. Various studies of a scale well beyond the scope of our regional brewery put this new breed of progressive consumers in a neighborhood as large as 60 million with plenty of space for growth as the highly philosophical Millennial Generation get their first credit cards.

These insights should come as no surprise to chief marketing officers. Living core values and marketing a product and service often find themselves as separate pursuits so as not to confuse their motives.

However, the abundance of both formal research and over-a-beer conversations with customers makes it blue-sky clear that the cautious, casual dating between core values and brand leaves both short of their optimal potential. Hence, companies are, now more than ever, charging the branding team with coming up with an effective marketing strategy by which the brand veneer can be firmly laminated to a wood core of actual practices. . .

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