Leveraging Children May Win Adult Marketshare

At their wits end after failing to reach a much younger audience, a large electronics company looked at YouTube celebrities. One in particular stood out, someone who’s famous for “breaking things.” Each episode, he would show an item and then destroy it. There was no commentary about the product and no feature set demonstration, just some good old aggression being taken out on an inanimate object. After giving a product to this man, the company’s sales rose dramatically.

Why? Because the younger demographic started to see and remember the brand every time they watched the episode. It made them smile. They told their parents about the ad. Realized the product was strong, durable, and popular, the parents bought it.

A high-end bank was trying to reach extremely wealthy new clients. The bank tried mailing gifts to the prospects. It didn’t work. They tried making personal visits to the prospects. That didn’t work, either. Unsure what to do next, they ran an ad in the comics section of a Sunday newspaper saying, “Get a free pony when you open an account with us.” New accounts skyrocketed.

Why? Because the ad was never read by the prospect, until their child brought it to them demanding a pony. Who can say no to a beautiful child, especially when their net worth is more than $100 million?

These two success stories teach us to think differently and connect with the consumer, even if it means through their child. They challenge us to explore how to reach out to our audience in a more authentic manner. But these stories are also very different. One features a subtle brand play. The other is a hardcore direct marketing ad.

There are many studies and articles written about companies who try to reach children in sneaky ways, but there are very few articles written about companies who try to leverage the children to reach the parents. This type of approach could open up new ways to think about reaching your target audience.

Consider this:

  1. Find the medium that best suits your brand: TV, mobile, direct marketing, email
  2. Understand which demographics this medium reaches
  3. Build a message for that demographic
  4. Use that demographic as the brand ambassador, encouraging them to personally take your message to the real target buyer
  5. Let the buyer be influenced by the ambassador
  6. Sell more product

Maybe we’ve been doing it backwards this entire time. What do you think?

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