Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Prime Time Entertainment Of Coupling And Setting Down Roots

While watching House Hunters International on HGTV tonight, I got to see a promotion for a new show soon to premiere.

As soon as I saw the promo, I decided that it was important to use it as the lead-in for this Blog posting.

Most of my evenings in the city are spent attempting to relax and watch a bit of television. 

More times than not, I ended up watching television and then taking what I see and adding it into the mix of the projects I might be completing.

Tonight is no different.

In the last week, I have made six presentations about the character of Atlanta neighborhoods, their projected five-year growth, their demographics and their lifestyle mix.

When I ask area business people, folks I sit next to in coffee shops, area politicians and even fellow marketing consultants what percentage of the local area population is made up of the conventional family with kids, at least two-thirds of the responses voiced are guesses of 50% or more.

No question that Baby Boomers made more babies.  Also no question that those babies did not leave the nest for good as we might say is normal. 

Then again, Baby Boomers are never known for their normalcy.

GenXers represent the core base of the stereotype of the family...at least for the last 15 years or so.  In this calendar year, the leading edge of the GenXers turns 48 years old. 

We must always remember that…

#1 – The average size of the U.S. household is very much anchored around two kids or less.

#2 – GenXers are the smallest generational group in the U.S.

Hence, the number of kids in the U.S. has been shrinking along with the percentage of the U.S. made up of households with kids.

Singles, couples and empty-nesters as a group on "non-kid households" now makes up more than two-thirds of the U.S. population and is actually growing.

But… the next generation that I write about a lot – the Millennials – is the next change agent of U.S. culture.

The hot American Dream is all about getting coupled (note that I did not say married) and buying the first house.

Shows that range the mix from First Time Homebuyers to Say Yes To The Dress to I Found The Gown to Marriage Under Construction are all centered on the Millennials as they move from single-hood to couple-hood.

The new show on HGTV will be about…no surprise... couples coming together and getting a house just in time for couple-hood.

Remember… the show is on HGTV and if the show was grounded solely on marriage in the conventional setting, many of the film and host crew would boycott the set.

Here in Atlanta, the hottest real estate area is a neighborhood called Ashford Park.  It is littered with singles, couples, hitched and newly marrieds. 

Many business leaders believe that the conventional mom-pop-two-kids-dog-and-cat family represents more than half of the area. 

It represents just less than 23%.  Singles and couples account for more than three out of every four households.

Not only are Millennials re-scripting career development, work hours, leisure time, communications, the definition of “friends”… but they are now emerging as next wave of setting down roots and carving out their own character of neighborhood and home.

I preach this to bankers and pediatric hospitals.

I preach this to home designers and retailers.

I preach this to grocery stores and QSR restaurants.

 The American landscape and couple-hood is going through a major change right now. 

If you still are featuring pictures of the ideal mix from 1990s and first few years of the 2000s… your brand is WAY behind the times. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Jesus Marketing Message Might Be Of Value

What I have preached for years is wrong. 

Not all consumers want to be in control.

There are two types of consumers now out in the marketplace… those who actively define their needs and then emotionally seek out products, services and brands that deliver against the need… and those who follow the leader and do as told.

For years, I preached to my clients… and wrote about it this blog… that the old business model of build it and the consumers would come buy it is dead.

That is not totally true.

I got into a debate with two media reps this past week. 

One works for a radio station and the other a newspaper. 

I was working with each of the two in the development of an interactive web strategy campaign.

When I shared with each rep the mechanics of a very niche targeted approach to reach a client’s best opportunity consumer, each of the two reps voiced very strong defense, and voiced it quickly, that they were very uncomfortable with the approach.

Why the discomfort?

Because the amount of people reached would be very limited and that was totally against their model of effective marketing strategy.

I asked each one if they truly believed that if a marketer banged away their message among a broad reach of audience groups multiple times that the recipients of the messages would walk just like ZOMBIES and go buy the product.

They both said, “yes, that’s how the marketplace works… that’s what we are taught and that is how we are trained to sell media.”


In the past, I have placed blame on the professors who teach advertising in college. 

But… now, I cannot place total blame on the professors.

These are the folks who watch the ZOMBIES in the CarMax ads follow the word “Start” on the ground and then look up at the CarMax sales guy.

These are the same folks who relish the banks and investment companies where they can just hand over their savings and the banks and investment companies will make them millionaires.

These are the ZOMBIES who voted in a presidential candidate that very openly believes that the federal government knows better how to spend dollars.

And these are the ZOMBIES who believe that Bloomberg, the NYC Mayor will guide them on what to best eat and drink. 

I rest my case… there is a portion of the consumer marketplace that have run from the process of thinking and now, have elected to simply follow whatever they are told to do. 

To be honest, I publish this blog in the hopes that any prospective clients that visit our website and read the blog realize that we do make moral choices regarding what type of brands and organizations we refuse to entertain.

I remember back in my college days that the ad and marketing professors would lecture about business ethics and they asked the class if anyone had an issue with taking on a tobacco or alcohol client.

One of my professors asked the class if we would even entertain taking on a GOP political candidate or pro-life or church group.

Just so that blog readers know, we have worked with several alcohol candidates, the Baptist Sunday School Board and a mix of GOP, DNC and Indy politicians. 

We have not and will not work with a tobacco company. 

We once did some consulting for a condom manufacturer… but in the end, it was really not as fun as it could have been. 

We were asked to evaluate the use of colors.  We came back and said that the candidate should consider cartoon characters.

The client thought we were too crazy and declined to hire us.

In addition to my distaste for the ZOMBIE Followers… I also refuse to work with companies and brands that capitalize on it for moral reasons. 

No product… no service… no cause… and God forbid… no politician is of any value if they dig so low as to take on the ZOMBIE marketing approach.

Having blog posted all of these thoughts, there is one other observation I will share… when there are ZOMBIES… there just might be opportunity to evangelize and preach a born-again experience.

We just celebrated Easter and Jesus and his message of salvation.

There are elements of both Rome and the Jewish leadership back then that is very similar to the MBA Empire and Corporate leadership of today.

Jesus’ message centered around situational morality and individual accountability. 

Marketing and branding today boils down to the same base…especially given the rise of the consumer ZOMBIES.