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Consumer

First Step For Marketers to Understand Millennials: Dump the Stereotypes

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Much has been made about marketers’ attempts to reach millennials. This group, probably more so than others, is fragmented by all of the media options at their fingertips. They’re struggling right now with an economy that has made some of the traditional milestones, like buying a house, out of reach. And they have a different set of criteria to determine what’s valuable enough to spend money on.

Learning more about their lives and how they’re managing the obstacles they face is the first step to reaching them with a message that makes sense. Continuing with stereotypes — lazy, entitled, narcissistic, etc — will not.

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Walmart’s #PRFail Recognition May Win the Retailer $3 Billion

Aisles of a Grocery StoreIn the wild and wacky world of corporate PR, it seems the larger the brand, the more difficult it becomes to acknowledge mistakes. The more transparent a brand is, the more vulnerable it becomes.

That may explain what takes place in Bentonville, Ark. (the corporate home of Walmart) on a daily basis. Until recently, the brand has seemed only proactive about growth and global domination.

And then, a story in Time came out last April that read: “Walmart has cut employee hours so deeply that it doesn’t have enough associates on hand to get stuff from back-of-the-store staging areas to the shelves.”

That caused Walmart to do something differently — respond. Sure, it’s more than a year later, but they’re new at this thing. Let’s cut them a break.

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P&G Wants To Convince You That You’re Just-Worn Clothing Needs A ‘Swash’

swashPicture it: It’s an ordinary evening. You’ve had a day filled with meetings, writing a press release for a client and lunch with a reporter. You’re finally home. You’ve pulled on your favorite sweats for an evening of wine and Dating Naked when you take another look at the shirt you wore that day, tossed over the back of a chair. You kind of want to wash it but you think, “Is it really that dirty?” What’s a person to do?

[Insert image of wide-eyed man/woman shrugging in an exaggerated manner.]

You Swash it!

At least that’s the conclusion that P&G wants you to come to. The company will sell a $500, four-foot-tall machine that uses “gel-filled pods” ($6.99 for a pack of 12 single use pods) to “neutralize odors,” rid a garment of wrinkles and restore its fit. It’s not really washing. Not really dry cleaning. It’s “swashing.” The machine will be available at Bloomingdale’s next month.

The target market for this item is what The Wall Street Journal calls the “re-wearer,” someone who feels the item they just wore isn’t really that dirty so they want to get one more wear out of it.

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Meow Mix Takes Things Too Far With Mobile Sound Booth

Meow Mix is cat food.

To promote this brand of cat food, a mobile sound booth is traveling around New York City giving people the opportunity to sing the Meow Mix jingle. The words to this jingle are “Meow. Meow.”

This is the sort of thing that makes us question our sanity.

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With the US Muslim Population Growing, Marketers Are Missing a Consumer Opportunity

muslim familyUnless you were celebrating Ramadan or know someone who was, you may have missed the fact that the month-long religious fast ended on Monday. Unlike other times of year, Ramadan doesn’t have a national day of recognition. That includes a day or days that shoppers can score a deal as a means of acknowledgement.

The Atlantic argues that should change.

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The Barbie/Girl Scouts Partnership Is Not Going Over Well

girl scout barbieA Girl Scouts-themed Barbie doll is coming to stores this week. And, as one would expect, it is not going over well with parents who think that Barbie is not the best role model for little girls.

The relationship between Mattel and the Girl Scouts was actually forged last year, when the Girl Scouts began to offer a “Be anything. Do everything” patch, the first time the group signed on for a corporate partnership.

“Barbie is basically a terrible role model for girls, and she’s not about what the Girl Scouts’ principles are, which have to do with leadership and courage,” Susan Linn,  director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood tells the Today show.

However, the Girl Scouts have defended the partnership.

“Girls and moms alike associate this doll with the outdoors, camping, giving back in your community, and we think that those are really positive messages to all of our girls,” Kelly Parisi, spokeswoman for Girl Scouts of the USA told the morning show.

The partnership appears to be a mutually beneficial one. But some women can’t get over the fact that a good chunk of Barbie’s appeal is superficial.

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Best Practices: What to Do When Activists Come Calling

bpa_free_logoOne of my go-to quick-and-healthy dinners is a can of Amy’s Organic fat-free vegetable soup topped with slices of chicken sausage.

OK, yes: It’s still processed food (and I know I could and should do better!), but some of that guilt is removed thanks to a new sticker Amy’s has been putting on every can that reads: “This soup is canned in a BPA-free liner.”

Good move, right? This little sticker reinforces the notion that buying Amy’s Organic is the healthier choice. It’s also a perfectly proportional response to health concerns raised by groups such as the Breast Cancer Fund over the use of Bisphenol A, or BPA, in can linings. Other companies, such as Campbell Soup Co., have followed suit in removing BPA from their packaging.

As Advertising Age points out, processed-food companies—even seemingly “good” companies, like Amy’s Organic—are on the defensive as never before, and repeatedly under attack from online health advocates and activists.

The rise in attacks comes from, you guessed it, “social networking tools and digital media, [which] have created opportunity for groups of consumer advocates to target individual brands in order to influence company decisions,” notes Sanford C. Bernstein notes in a recent report.

So what’s a company to do? Should companies respond to every single threat? And how?

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Whole Foods Is Getting Hit By Hobby Lobby In An Unexpected Way

whole foods signSometimes, a brand can get hit with a controversy that they didn’t even know they were involved with. Surely, that must be what Whole Foods is thinking.

Usually involved with issues surrounding food and the prices at their shops, it’s likely they didn’t have a crisis plan in place for the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, which made it OK for employers to determine whether or not to offer contraception coverage. The company itself has no plans of discontinuing the coverage. However, one of the brands they carry, Eden Foods, is trying to opt out of the coverage. And now there’s a petition against Whole Foods with 12,500 names, demanding that they stop selling Eden Foods products. According to The Daily Beast, the company is one of 82 trying to discontinue the coverage.

“While individual-level boycotting of Eden Foods may not have much of an impact, telling Whole Foods to stop carrying Eden Foods’ products in their stores around the nation should have a much bigger effect. Let’s seek out the best messenger to send this message to Eden Foods- and in this case, Whole Foods seems like the perfect fit,” reads the petition.

We can all just imagine the looks on faces of the Whole Foods publicists when they saw this.

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Target Is Using Philanthropy to Make Back-To-School Better Than the Holiday Season

targetThe holiday shopping season certainly wasn’t good to Target. Perhaps a little too eager to put that in the past, the retailer is already focusing on the back-to-school season. Not even a week after the 4th of July.

To get its mojo back post-data breach, Target is launching a campaign focused on social responsibility — Buy One, Give One — that will give one of Target’s brand of up & up school supply items to a student in need for every purchase made between July 13 and August 2. Items like crayons and paper will be included, more than 300 products in total. The goal is to donate $25 million worth of things to Kids in Need.

“If we reach that goal, this will be the largest cause campaign donation Target has ever made to a single organization; an important milestone on our way to giving $1 billion for education by the end of 2015,” reads the press release about the program.

This is great. The company points out that parents are spending an average of $600 on back-to-school shopping each year, a steep price for many people. But it doesn’t really address the whole data-breach, digital-security thing. Read more

Mattel Shouldn’t Let The Opportunities From Entrepreneur Barbie Slip Away

business barbieBarbie has had many jobs (150, according to CNN), outfits, homes and houses. She’s lately added a business suit and tech gadgets to her wardrobe with Entrepreneur Barbie, a doll that comes with a smartphone and tablet.

She’s still the same blond bombshell. Still chic in pink. But this time around, she comes with a social network that includes 10 (human) entrepreneurs, who are the doll’s “Chief Inspirational Officers.” Founders from Rent the Runway, One Kings Lane, and Girls Who Code are part of the network and they conducted a Twitter chat last week to launch the doll.

The Atlantic finds it strange that the brand is using the #Unapologetic hashtag for this doll seeing as how it was used for the previous one, a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue collaboration. We’ll second that, but there’s actually a little more at stake here than just a wrongheaded hashtag.

This partnership is a real opportunity to jettison Barbie into 2014, with a lesson for young girls that is modern and tied very much to reality. Barbie has the chance to be something more relevant and significant than she has been in the past.

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