How 4 Brands Turned Viral Stories Into Marketing

Millennial research, Millennial insight, Millennial marketing, Gen Z research, Gen Z marketing, Gen Z insight, youth research, youth marketing

From slime to Instagram-famous foods, these brands found a way to turn viral moments into real marketing…

Every Friday, we call out some of the most buzzed about stories of the week in The Viral List to keep you up-to-date on the online trends, #challenges, #baes, memes, GIFs and more that young consumers are spreading and talking about. Awareness of smaller fads and cultural conversations can help to shape understanding of Millennials and Gen Z, and sometimes collectively point to a larger trend, and also inspire great marketing. But while some brands try to piggy-back on viral content, jumping onto a hashtag or co-opting slang, sometimes these quick efforts come across the wrong way—young consumers are wary of a try-too-hard brand, and in our Talk the Talk trend, we found 50% of 13-33-year-olds think companies that use GIFs and emojis can appear to be trying too hard to impress them. Many also have an “it’s over once a brand has jumped on board” perspective when it comes to social media trends.

One smart way to respond to online trends is to monitor conversations trending around your brand and respond in turn—as Nickelodeon did when Facebook groups were demanding the return of beloved ‘90s cartoons and Pepsi did when they brought back Surge thanks to (nostalgic Millennial) consumer demand. But giving the Facebook fans what they want isn’t the only way to turn viral interest into smart campaigns and products. Today, we’re looking at four brands who turned viral stories (many of which we reported on when they were just starting) into marketing that resonates—and talking about why they work:

Millennial research, Millennial insight, Millennial marketing, Gen Z research, Gen Z marketing, Gen Z insight, youth research, youth marketingElmer’s and Nickelodeon Get In On Slime

In January, we reported on the “tween-dominated” market of homemade slime spreading across the country’s schools, citing the millions of #slime Instagram…

 
 

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The Newsfeed

“I love watching movies and shows uninterrupted.”—Female, 18, CO

Mattel just made the first hijab-wearing Barbie. She’s based on Ibtihaj Muhammad, who won the Olympic bronze medal for fencing for the U.S. while wearing a hijab. Brands are bringing diversity to the toy aisle to appease The Diversity Tipping Point generation’s appetite for inclusion, and this new doll is a step in the right direction. She gives girls a new role model and (in Muhammad’s words) encourages them "to embrace what makes them unique." Mattel has plans to create an entire line of Barbies based on inspirational women next year. (BBC)

Another ‘90s classic, Are You Afraid of the Dark, is coming to the big screen and revisiting Millennials’ childhood nightmares. Nostalgia entertainment is big business for the entertainment industry, who are hoping to capitalize on Millennials and Gen Z’s trademark wistfulness, and it doesn’t hurt that this screenplay for the remake is being written by It’s screenwriter. With horror proving it can bring in massive audiences these days, this mixture of dark content and nostalgia is a good bet to get them in theaters. (Collider)

Millennials are causing a “baby bust”—they aren’t having enough kids to keep the U.S. population at the “replacement level.” According to the Negative Population Growth Inc., the birth rate has dropped below the death rate, with women are having an average of just 1.8 births compared to the 2.1 needed to keep the population steady. The research blames all Millennials for the drop, reporting that “irth rates for all age groups of women under 30 fell to record lows in 2016.” (Washington Examiner)

Kellogg’s is coming back to NYC, with a bigger (and maybe better) cereal café than last year’s Times Square popup. The 5,000 square foot Union Square space will be a permanent place for Millennials to try crafty concoctions from Kellogg’s, who hopes getting the demo to rethink the product will keep Millennials from “killing” cereal as we know it. The company claims “It’ll be a destination for foodies and people to chill, create and explore the endless possibilities of cereal all in one place, whether it be for breakfast, lunch or a snack later in the day.” (CSA)

People are binging Netflix in public—at work, in line, and even on the toilet. A new study from Netflix found that 67% of viewers have watched a show or movie in public, 37% admit to tuning in at work, and 12% have pressed play in a public restroom. One in five have cried during a public streaming session, and 11% have seen a spoiler on another public streamer’s screen—but that’s not stopping them. The Binge Effect is real and bigger than ever: 60% of respondents said they binge more content than they did last year. (MashableMarkets Insider)

“I really enjoyed Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul does a really good job capturing the same intensity and intrigue that the original series did…”—Male, 28, NY

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