Big Media Finds Its Way Into Teens’ Online Life

Discussion
Jul 28, 2006
Santi Briglia

By Santi Briglia


Last week, we discussed Wal-Mart’s effort to create a proprietary social networking site to market its teen apparel offerings (see WalMartSpace.com?,
RetailWire 7/21/06). Many expressed their belief that, as teens spend more of their lives online, the companies who successfully discover and implement effective online strategies
to attract them stand to reap huge rewards. An article in CNNMoney.com profiles one company that has found a way to get big results for big media.


StreetWise, a marketing company specializing in teens and young adults, organizes a base of approximately 70,000 registered members to promote films, music and video games using a variety of means. Some StreetWise members post messages on popular social networking sites like MySpace.com and Facebook. Others get promotional “swag” and hit the streets, handing out hats, t-shirts, DVDs and CDs.


Ryan Okum, VP of Business Development at StreetWise, feels his company is partly responsible for the success of films such as “Little Man,” which was universally panned by critics but, surprisingly, finished second in the box office last week with $21.6 million in ticket sales.


“The movie had a great opening. It was a happy surprise for us that it beat Sony’s expectations,” Okum said.


Media companies must also walk the line when trying to market something without making it seem like they are jamming it down teens’ throats. Okum said that’s why Hollywood is increasingly turning to more viral, guerilla type campaigns. There are also new challenges. With more and more media companies trying to pitch their movies, music and games to teens online, there is a certain amount of clutter to break through.


But, the consensus is that TV and other forms of media just aren’t cutting it anymore when it comes to the teen and young adult market.


Says Michael Wilson, CEO of There, a web site where teens and young adults can create avatars to hang out in virtual worlds, “What’s happening with teens is that the distinction between their real lives and their online lives is blurring. Big companies are realizing that to reach teens you have to address that fact.”


Discussion Question: Can online and guerilla tactics that have been successful in marketing entertainment and media be applied to retail sectors, such
as apparel, food and personal electronics?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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6 Comments on "Big Media Finds Its Way Into Teens’ Online Life"


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Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
14 years 7 months ago

“Real lives” are merging with “online lives?” If anyone thinks that “online lives” are somehow separate from “real life” for teenagers, they don’t get it. Online is just a different medium for “real life” connections for teenagers. To create viable programs it is important to understand how the consumers you are targeting view online activity.

Jack Borland
Guest
Jack Borland
14 years 7 months ago
Some of the current online and guerilla tactics from entertainment can be applied by other retail sectors. The more important thing to realize is that the online medium will continue to grow. Those that don’t master how to interact with customers/consumers in the ways they desire will suffer for it. Consider instant messaging (IM) and blogs. Roughly 2/3 of today’s teens use IM. About half of them use it routinely (once a day or more), surpassing their usage of email. Blogs are the fastest growing communication channel ever seen. Teens are a huge market that is growing up with communication channels that most of us never dreamed of when we were their age. A lot of companies are offering chat as a service option. A few are sanctioning groups of their employees to blog on topics of interest (Microsoft is a great example here). But almost none have figured out a way to transform their corporately-sanctioned although self-selected bloggers into trusted chat resources that people might have on their buddy lists. That’s partly because most… Read more »
Steve Weiss
Guest
Steve Weiss
14 years 7 months ago

Today’s teens have an amazing radar when it comes to being manipulated by marketers. Anyone approaching today’s teen had better be ready with an answer for “what’s in it for me?”

Bill Bishop
Guest
Bill Bishop
14 years 7 months ago
It seems to me that it’s absolutely essential that we find ways to apply these emerging marketing tactics to food, apparel, and personal electronics. The reason is that there are people today who are coming at these markets using these new tactics. The only folks who don’t recognize this are the vast majority of incumbents in the business. If incumbents don’t learn and act quickly, they’ll be blind-sided by new competition that better serves the needs of their shoppers and has no evident vulnerabilities. Santi’s question is important in its own right and because it highlights the central challenge of competing successfully in the 21st Century, i.e., how do you stay ahead of your customers and continue to offer them what they need before they know they need it? It’s now becoming evident that this can only be done through a rich and continuous dialog with customers and that online capabilities will be a key enabler. Similarly, guerilla tactics help make the initial response economically feasible. We can learn a lot from current international conflicts… Read more »
Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 7 months ago

Sustained success in online marketing, like sustained success in any other medium, depends on credibility. Viral online marketing in the financial area suffers from the huge impact of sleazy shills, but the honest sources seem to thrive as time goes by. Wal-Mart’s teen site feels like a shill site. Young people using MySpace.com and other social networking sites, when they naively get taken in several times, learn to distinguish between the real and the fake. Participant comments have credibility on Amazon and eBay, so those sites are treasured by their audience.

Stephan Kouzomis
Guest
Stephan Kouzomis
14 years 6 months ago

If our food industry would be patient, hire the right people to interpret the information, and then take appropriate marketing and segmentation action, our grocery operations would be strengthening its shopper loyalty, gaining new shoppers, and offering ‘word of mouth’ discussion amongst potential consumers.

Don’t forgot the possibility of ‘5%, 20%’ rule! Why is this so difficult for our Industry to embrace? Hmmmmmmm

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