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As if brands didn’t need enough of a reason to build emotional connections with consumers in their 20s, an interesting article titled The Mysteriously Memorable 20s: Why do we remember more from young adulthood than from any other time of our lives?, reminds us of the importance that this meaningful stage of life plays in the construction of our identities and the way that we formulate our personal narratives.

ImageBuilding brand relationships during this crucial stage of identity formation by having even a small role in one of those integral memories of self-actualization can create extremely meaningful lifelong associations and loyalty. And if the ultimate mark of a successful brand is the ability to become so entwined in a consumer’s life that the brand has become a part of that consumer’s identity, then there is no time better than the 20s to be there with consumers as they define their self-image.

Another interesting issue that this article raises, especially for those that are in or entering their 20s, is that this period of life is not a time to be spent wondering “what if?” Memories, as the foundational aspect of our self-identification, are our most valuable possessions and the 20s are clearly an essential time for creating new and unique memories by exploring and experiencing life to its fullest.

So what are some of your most cherished memories from this formational period of life and are there any brands you associate with those memories? Do those brands play a role in your identity today and do you still have an affinity for those brands?


Lately there has been a movement toward embracing quirky personalities and offbeat cultural trends. Do you have a beard and like to beat box Haikus? Or do you wear geek-chic glasses and say catch phrases like “wonka wonka”? Well then congratulations! You’re the new kind of “cool” weird. Society’s recent embrace of modes of style, behaviors, and human interactions that go against the status quo has become an all out pop culture obsession. In the past year, geeky cool has been celebrated in the media on screens both small (Fox’s “New Girl”) and large (the recent theatrical release ParaNorman). Now the trend has migrated to major label brands like Nike. To promote the new “weird is cool” attitude proffered by the ParaNorman film (a tale of a young boy who can see ghosts and is shunned by his friends and classmates), Nike has released a special edition of film-inspired Nike Air Foamposite One sneakers. Nike announced the new shoes via the following promotional ad:

The Foamposite One shoes, released in a small batch of 800, were up for grabs via a Twitter campaign challenging fans to tweet the @ParaNorman account with pictures of themselves being weird as a kid with the hashtag #weirdwins. Fans who tweeted the weirdest photos won a pair of the limited edition sneaks. The Nike ParaNorman campaign not only represents a great cross-brand promotional strategy (for the film, the shows, and their master companies) but also plays into a bigger cultural movement toward embracing oddities. It’s also important to note the irony of the campaign: a coveted symbol of hyped fashion trends (Nike shoes) are a reward for celebrating those very uncool, awkward, and socially embarrassing moments of childhood.

What do you think of Nike’s spin on weird as the new cool? Tell me in the comments.

A question I see a lot of lately is “how can we get consumers to be involved with our brand?” Companies want consumers to think more and raise their involvement with brands to gain a competitive edge. Historically this has only been the realm of lifestyle brands like Harley Davidson. One category that might lend some hints to how to raise involvement is sports. Sports fans are the trailblazers in terms of taking involvement to new levels.

This is clearly evident in a new ESPN short film regarding the lengths to which some fans go with this obsession, taking it well beyond their day-to-day lives. While I don’t think consumers will get to this level with everything, there may be lessons to be learned from sports about raising involvement and creating loyalty.

There is no denying social media has transformed the consumer landscape over the past decade. (Whether it has been for better or worse is a conversation for another day.) Companies do not have a choice whether or not they want to be ‘social’ – nor do the industries in which they operate. Market research is no exception as seen on the infographic below, working to uncover brand insights and drive sales in the digital era.

If you’ve ever designed a PowerPoint presentation or business development tools of any sort you have encountered image powerhouse, Getty Images. And if you are familiar with Getty Images’ Web site, you know there are AMPLE images from which to choose. So many, in fact, that a simple task of finding a man eating an apple can turn into an overwhelming quest for a man with just the right smile-not too flashy, not too teethy-poised to bite into a crisp apple with a pinkish reddish blush (yes, you can be THAT specific with Getty Images).

So hats off to AlmapBBDO, the Brazil-based leg of BBDO charged with illustrating the diversity of Getty’s digital photo archive. Project managers included copywriter Sophie Schoenburg and art director Marcus Kotlhar, who together devoted a total of six months to researching and handpicking images from the archive to illustrate the image bank’s visual narrative building capabilities. The result? A video montage that utilizes 873 still shots to illustrate the narrative arc of life itself including life, love, birth, death, and the hope of happiness. With a nuanced almost symphonic flow, I think AlmapBBDO successfully illustrates Getty’s power to form and feed narratives of all shapes, sizes, and subjects.

What do you think?

I’m not normally one to fly outside of coach, but I may have to change that if I fly Virgin Atlantic. Along with a new and improved bar for the Upper Class passengers, Virgin Atlantic is now offering these passengers a drink with the CEO himself. How is this possible? Sir Richard Branson’s head will be floating in their drinks.

Upper Class passengers are being served very special ice in the shape of Branson’s head. The new cube was created over six weeks by four designers using detailed photographic techniques and laser scanning technology. An interesting use of this technology, but if you’re going to do something big, might as well do it right.

Luke Miles, head of design for Virgin Atlantic Upper Class says, “We’re delighted to be able to offer our Upper Class passengers access to the newest, longest bar in the sky, and what better way to celebrate this than giving passengers the opportunity to share a drink with the face of our business?”  Though it’s an odd way to go about it, Virgin Atlantic will definitely be remembered. Though I find it somewhat creepy, I had to add a picture.

Online shopping is not just my obsession, it’s my primary mode of shopping. In the spirit of true confession, I admit I’ve grown so accustomed to purchasing the majority of my housewares and clothes online that I can’t stomach confronting an overstuffed rack at Nordstrom’s. The thought of digging through piles of clothes to find my right size makes me queasy. And, oh the horror, not seeing the garment displayed on a model or as part of a styled outfit gives me the hives. I’m a visual person and I need to see the shape and movement of a garment on a real person. And that is just one of the reasons I can see marketing genius in Madewell’s new mobile marketing campaign.

If you are not familiar, Madewell is J.Crew’s sister company. Madewell embraces a hybrid urban, Americana, chic aesthetic; it’s all gauzy tops, textured patterns, and classic jeans. If I remember correctly, the company made a big splash on the retail scene about 3 years ago and has steadily accrued a crowd of dedicated fans ever since. But Madewell is setting its sights on something larger than urban buzz.

To promote their tailored jeans, Madewell is sending a Pop-Up store to untapped frontiers.To bring the jeans to the people, Madewell has outfitted a 1978 Airstream trailer with a denim bar, a braid bar, and dressing rooms. The trailer is currently on a tour of America, hitting some major cities but also stopping in little towns were no brick and mortar Madewell stores exist. Shoppers are encouraged to hop on board, slip into the perfect jeans and experience the expert quality and cut of Madewell denim.

But here’s the catch: you can’t buy that perfect pair on deck. So what can you do? You can take a picture of yourself in the jeans to post to Facebook, search the area surrounding the trailer for golden tickets, and get a free ‘do at the braid bar. You have to purchase the jeans online or in a store. What a brilliant way to engage consumers through multiple channels: online shoppers get a chance to really experience the jeans with no commitment to purchase; in-store shoppers get the full retail experience but are driven to the website for purchase; and those who have never experienced the Madewell brand are given a personal, customized introduction. Plus with the added social media and in-store incentives, Madewell is committing a grand feat of brand channel cross-pollination. For more information on the Airstream activites click here.

Millennials present marketing, advertising, and market research professionals with a unique challenge. A distinct combination of social, cultural, and environmental influences have formed a generation of consumers with very specific needs and touch points.

A force of approximately 80-90 million strong in the US, with an estimated $200 billion in purchasing power, Millennials are not an audience to be taken lightly. Understanding Millennial consumers’ mindsets, values, and purchase patterns and behaviors through creative and innovative Millennial-specific market research methodologies is essential to the success of most mainstream brands and products.

Our white paper, W5 on Millennials, outlines key characteristics which affect their attitudes toward and interaction with products and the marketing surrounding them, as well as how W5 approaches gaining a true understanding of how to effectively communicate and connect with them. Here is a snapshot of this force by the numbers:

24% of Millennials say that ‘Technology use’ is what most makes their generation unique, the #1 answer (Pew Research 2010)

50 median number of text messages teenagers send every day (Pew Research 2010)

48% of Millennials who say word-of-mouth influences their product purchases more than TV ads. Only 17% said a TV ad prompted them to buy (Intrepid Study 2010)

47% of 16-to-24-year-olds are employed, the smallest share since government started recording data in 1948 (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2011)

46% of Millennials say they’ve had vigorous exercise in the past 24 hours

45% of Millennials highly associate their lives with simplicity, compared to 51% of Gen X and 58% of Boomers

44% of Millennials say that marriage is becoming obsolete, compared to 35% of Boomers who feel the same way (Pew Study 2010)

43% of 18-24 year-olds say that texting is just as meaningful as an actual conversation with someone over the phone (eMarketer 2010)

42% of teens say the primary reason they have a cell phone is for texting. Safety was second at 35% (Nielsen Study 2010)

41% of Millennials have made a purchase using their smartphone

40% of Millennials think that blogging about workplace issues is acceptable. Compared to 28% of Boomers (Iconoculture 2011)

39% of Millennials have a tattoo (Pew Study 2010)

38% of Millennials count themselves as Democrats, 28% Independents, 26% Republicans (Brookings Institution Study, March 2011)

35% of employed Millennials have started their own business on the side to supplement their income (Iconoculture 2011)

33% of Millennials live in cities and 14% live in rural environments

32% of Millennials say they don’t like advertising in general, compared to 37% of the general population (Experian Simmons Study)

31 the age of the oldest Millennials in 2011

29% of Millennial workers think work meetings to decide on a course of action are very efficient. Compared to 45% of Boomers (Iconoculture 2011)

28% of Millennials have a gun in their home (Pew Study 2010)

27% approximate decline in email usage among those ages 12-34 over the past year (ComScore Study 2010)

26% of Millennials say they are not affiliated with any religion (Pew Study 2010)

23% of Millennials think they will still be with their first employer after two years (8095 Live survey 2011)

21% of Millennials say helping people in need is one of the most important things in life (Pew Study 2010)

20% of Millennials are Hispanic. Millennials are more racially diverse than any generation before them (U.S. Census Bureau 2011)

19% of Millennials have voted on American Idol (Pew Study 2010)

15% of Americans ages 25-29 who had never been married in 1960, compared to 55% in 2011 (U.S. Census Bureau)

14% of the Millennial population is African-American (Pew Study 2010)

12% (only) of Millennials disagreed that they should pay more for higher quality items (Intrepid Study 2010)

11% of Millennials have boomeranged back to their parents house after graduating from college because of the recession (Pew Study 2010)

8% of 18-29 year-old internet users have used a location sharing service such as FourSquare (Pew Study 2010)

7 average number of jobs a person will have by age 26 (Intrepid Study 2010)

6 # of text message sent by those ages 13-18 every waking hour (Nielsen Study 2010)

4 average number of times that Millennials eat out per week (3.39 per week to be exact), more than any other generation