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Marketing That’s Totally On Trend

We’re always on the look out for the trends that young consumers are driving, and the marketing that manages to play off it in the right way. 

From flower beards to prom hashtags, we are always telling you about the latest trends young consumers are embracing. We also call it out when brands are able to use a trend in their campaign—without falling into the dreaded #BrandsSayingBae trap. Last month we rounded up three brands that have interpreted hot memes and cultural crazes into cool, and smart, campaigns. But we also constantly have our eyes on marketing that works with Millennials and teens, and there are times when marketing tactics become trends in their own right. Today we’re calling out three (very) recent on-trend efforts inspired by young consumers’ behavior, and the marketing fads they fall under: 

1. Domino’s Pizza Emoji Takeover

In today’s newsfeed, we told that Domino’s has a new ordering method for the digitally connected: simply tweet a pizza emoji at the brand any time you crave a slice. Starting next Wednesday, customers can save their pie preferences in a pizza profile, hook it to their Twitter account, and tweet their way to a full stomach. The tactic capitalizes on young consumers’ Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That attitudes, desire for near-instant gratification, and speedy brand interactions. In the lead-up to announcing the emoji-ordering news, Domino’s flooded their Twitter feed with pizza-emoji-only messages. Some looked like full coded sentences, complete with punctuation. When followers wrote asking what was going on, the brand responded only in pizza emoji. J.C. Penney even joined in on the conversation, tweeting at Domino’s with missives of high-heeled shoe symbols.

The Trend: Emoji have become young consumers’ second language. They’re replacing internet slang, infiltrating fashion, and are being integrated into social platforms. Now, more brands are creating emoji-centric marketing campaigns in order to appeal to Millennials and teens. From branded emoji keyboards to emoji activism efforts, the visual language is being embraced by retailers, publishers, and more. 

2. Starbuck’s Frappuccino GIF Party

Summer is almost here, and Starbucks is celebrating, and promoting their frosty Frappuccinos, with a GIF party. Yesterday, the brand released 21 branded GIFs to users of the messaging app Popkey—a GIF keyboard platform that allows users to search for appropriate reaction GIFs without leaving their chats, save frequently used GIFs, or select from popular featured files. The GIFs feature Frappuccinos, but many are also appealingly weird, or inspired by other memes (like the Nyan Cat inspired one above). Branding is also fairly subtle, a decision Popkey’s founder said was intentional, telling Adweek, “What fails hard in the GIF world is things like watermarks or hashtags.” The GIFs aren’t meant to look like ads, but are instead supposed to naturally fit into Millennials’ and teens’ text exchanges.

The Trend: We once discussed the untapped marketing potential of GIFs, but in 2014 GIF-powered marketing arrived. Twitter opened up its feed to GIFs and brands from Wendy’s to Samsung all contributed. We’ve been tracking how savvy brands are using GIFs to create marketing content that captures them, and including GIFs in campaigns that are sharable and unique.

3. Lay’s Hyper-Personal Packaging

Forget about working hard to get your face on a box of Wheaties, today anyone can have a custom bag of potato chips featuring their own personal photo. Lay’s is celebrating summer memories with a campaign that allows fans to upload their own photos onto a bag of classic chips. Visitors to their “Create Your Perfect Summer Day With Lays” site can upload an image and choose a caption to create their personalized packaging through July 4th. The first 10,000 to make their custom design will receive an actual bag decorated with their photo and words, and other participants will be able to share a digital version of their personalized snack on social media. It’s the first time in the brand’s history that they are offering customized packaging to consumers.

The Trend: Last year, Coca Cola’s personalized bottle and can #ShareACoke campaign was so successful that it reversed a decade long decline in U.S. Coke consumption, and was especially successful with young consumers, who are always looking for personalization in their products. In the words of one 22-year-old, “To see your name on a big brand, it makes it personal.” Ypulse has been tracking the trend of Personalized Marketing for some time (see our posts on the trend from December 2013October 2014 and our advice to brands for 2014) and it seems that brands getting even more personal is a marketing trend that will continue.