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Showing posts with label Gen Y. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gen Y. Show all posts

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Kia Microsite and Tour Reaches for Gen-Y



“We got together with a group of really cool people to celebrate Music, Film, Design, Entrepreneur Spirit and Gaming. We call them The Soul Collective”
From this continues Kia’s marketing outreach to teen and twenty-something consumers. The Kia Soul Collective was a ten-city tour promoting the Kia Soul as it showed up at concert events where show goers could get more information about the car and if they arrived between 12pm-8pm could test-drive a car. The effort was run by Cornerstone, a full-service lifestyle marketing company.

The site is divided into a various artistic interests: Music, Film, Design, Entrepreneur. All of the representatives for each section are Gen-Y up-and-comers with some established credibility. They all appeal to the creative nature of the target consumer and attempt to bring some coolness to the Kia Soul product. “Each member of the collective was tasked with demonstrating ‘how they roll’ through creating original films, art, music and more,” states the Press Release announcing the series of free concert events and the Kia Soul Collective site.

The Kia Soul is in a battle of the boxes as it launched the Soul at the same time Nissan launched their aptly named Cube and Scion had recently redesigned their xB. Kia picked up some immediate buzz with their funky hamster TV ad, which was one of the more memorable commercials of 2009. They also received some decent blogger coverage from non-automotive writers.

The Kia Soul Collective effort nixed the hamsters for turntables and nightclubs. The nice thing is there is still a connection across all of the efforts – the slogan “a new way to roll.” Roll can apply in a variety of ways and throughout the campaign has brought together rolling wheels and roll as in attitude. Connecting with artists is a natural integration in showcasing interesting people who have chosen a path that is definitely relevant to the target consumers.

There is a Flickr account setup for the event. I browsed several of the photo galleries and couldn’t find one photo with over 20 views. This isn’t uncommon from what I’ve experienced looking at all kinds of event marketing efforts brought online to Flickr. It doesn’t seem to matter what brand or product, but few people ever view these photos and probably for good reason. They only matter if you attended the event. Watching people you don’t know sign in at tables, drive around in a car, and go to a concert you didn’t attend just isn’t that compelling. It’s probably not even worth the effort to put up these galleries for any brand. Unless you have some compelling reason to do so, like they’re the first photos of the car or a celebrity is involved; otherwise, it’s not worth doing.

What is worth doing that is in the Kia Soul Collective site is the “Click Here for Your Event Photo” section where if you did attend an event you can retrieve it at the site and hopefully learn some more about the Soul’s marketing effort.

One disconnect is that there is virtually zero product information on the site. Obviously, adding product information to a hip, creative site promoting concert events could turnoff the audience Kia wishes to reach; however, providing a simple call to action to learn more about the Soul, say in the right side’s Keep Informed section would’ve been an easy way to promote the car a bit more. There is a Soul logo that is clickable to the Kia site, but clickable logos are weak Calls to Action, something stronger would’ve probably helped with what I’m guessing is a very low click-through rate to product pages.

The other question that begs asking is should this effort exist as an unique site, separate from the Kia Soul Launch experience. The Kia Soul launch site is pretty odd in its own expression and the Soul Collective effort probably could’ve lived in the existing site; instead of creating a whole other web site for people to find.

In an article from iMediaConnection called “3 Reasons to Ditch Your Microsites” author Sean X Cummings states, “Microsites are orphans. The URLs are orphans. You have to keep feeding them, housing them and clothing them, even though no one really wants them anymore.”

Looking at all the effort put into getting people to the Kia Soul Collective microsite, I wonder if Cummings is right. There is no point now that the tour is over and the content is old. No one has a reason to go here, yet Kia still feeds the site by linking to it from their shopping site at Kia.com. Why? Why have potential shoppers go to the Collective URL where you may deter their interest in your product and forget they were even interested in a Kia Soul? Internet users are fickle and you are just a click away to the next attention getter.

That’s why it’s often a better move to integrate your marketing efforts into minimal destinations like the shopping site and a launch experience, and even that you may want to combine into one single destination. I’m personally a fan of having a site for the launch efforts that are not convoluted by shopping links. Let your main site be the destination for serious buyers or product researchers. Let the launch site familiarize visitors with the campaign and key messages you want the product to communicate, not everyone is ready to start Build & Pricing and trying to find a dealership.

Anyway, the Soul Collective is another effort to combine creativity, youth and event marketing. There is nothing revolutionary here, but for what it is it subscribes to most of the fundamental elements company’s have when approaching these efforts: microsite, Flickr and a Twitter account. Being more integrated to the online efforts already in place with the Kia launch site would have alleviated the need to maintain a distinct effort, plus integration with the launch experience would’ve brought more of the digital effort into a more impactful singular effort. It still is a decent effort to reach that coveted Generation-Y demographic so many marketers wish to appeal too.
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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Generation Bling


Social media is all the rage in digital marketing these days with companies venturing out to FaceBook, Twitter, MySpace, and even creating their own community web sites. What approach a manufacturer takes should depend on what goals they want to accomplish with social media and the brand must understand how their customers behave on the web.

One experiment is Generation Benz, an online community established for “an invited group of Gen Y netizens to open up about the brand.” In fact, when I tried to register for the site -- using my real demographics -- I was not accepted. A fellow co-worker had informed me he had a similar issue and “got in” when he completed a profile as a 29 year old. So, keep trying to sign-up if you want to take a peak at the site.

According to Mercedes-Benz USA VP/Marketing Stephen Cannon, “Our Generation-Benz community is a natural extension of our desire to broaden the Mercedes-Benz family, and establish a dialogue with future buyers to guide us with the design of our vehicles and direction of our brand."

So we know Mercedes is interested in taping into their aspirational customers and after spending weeks on the site they are doing a lot of consumer research, online focus group engagement.

Unfortunately, I cannot share content screen shots from the community due to the community’s participant legal agreement that I accepted:

In addition, except as provided in this Agreement, you may not copy, modify, translate, reproduce, publish, broadcast, transmit, distribute, perform, display, license, sell, or create derivative works from any Member Content or any other content appearing on or through the Service.


That said, I can definitely describe what content is presented on Generation Benz. Mercedes is doing several things to engage. Whether they are the right thing to connect with 20-somethings is another thing all together. There are consumer opinion polls where you can vote on how an interior palette makes you feel. One discussion asked users to share their opinion on competing Lexus and Mercedes Benz commercials currently running for the RX350 and M-Class SUVs. None of this really sounds all that compelling to a Gen Y audience but they are getting some participation on the site, particularly when it comes to new and future product content. I should state that community members can "suggest a topic".

A private community is definitely the right strategic approach for Mercedes based on the demographic they are targeting and the type of engagement they are doing. Finding the right topics though seems to be a struggle since this is a marketing organization that starts the discussions, topics are not user-generated which probably reduces usage.

One of the best behaviors on the site is the engagement from Mercedes’ staff that really participates with the community members, making the community feel they have the ability impact the brand’s decisions. Their email communications also encourage participation and repeat visits (see image to the right.)

Without access to primary data showing how effective the site is with attracting repeat visitors, it is difficult to know how well the community is doing. After evaluating all of the current discussion threads on the site, it is clear repeat visits are low and there are only two dominant users of the site with over 300 posts each, others who post tend to have less than 10 posts. Active users only appear to include maybe 20 or so participants, at least across all forum comment sections.

One way it could improve engagement is by giving users a reason to participate. “Consumers have to have some incentive to share their thoughts, opinions and experiences on a company Web site,” according to the Wall Street Journal. There is no incentive on the site. Some things that could improve that include:

The site does give users an indicator showing how many posts they have done. Post indicators provide a visual "game" on community boards which leads to an increase of usage. An indicator should also move people to new levels like newbie, contributor, expert, et cetera as a way to show degrees of engagement. Believe it or not, this stuff actually works in communities as some users view it as a fame reward.

Other incentives could include cash incentives or product promotions, which could include Mercedes lifestyle discounts for apparel. Or really encourage participation by offering a Generation Benz logo hat or t-shirt that could further promote the site to the user’s personal network, make them feel special and that they have exclusive access to the brand.

All in all, the Generation Benz web site is a good example of a community site from an automotive company with a very clear set of goals, reaching out to a target audience they want to engage. It just seems like the site moderators need to find more relevant topics for their users, and less for their marketing department's purposes. They also could benefit by rewarding users with incentives to participate more.
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