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

“It[‘s] only about the music for me, nothing else dictates what I listen to, I either like it or I don't.”—Male, 28, WA

A new app is getting teens’ attention as it rises through the ranks of the new social apps to know, even surpassing Houseparty’s popularity—but the catch is it’s “piggyback[ing]” on Snapchat. Polly allows users to create anonymous surveys that they can send on Snapchat (there's that anonymity allure again), meaning many users may not have actually downloaded the Polly app, so they “could slip away if friends stop posting questions.” For now though, the app amassed 20 million users and 100 million answers last month, proving it’s one to keep an eye on. (TechCrunch)

Designers are taking to social media to “shame” the retailers ripping off their work. When Zoila Darton spotted a Forever 21 shirt eerily similar to the one she helped create to benefit Planned Parenthood, she posted a tweet to let the brand know their copycat didn’t go unnoticed—and quickly gained attention from fashion editors and others. This isn’t the first time pieces have been copied by Forever 21, but designers have a hard time taking legal recourse against the powerful company. Instead, social media posts are often their best bet. (NYTimes)

BeautyCon is continuing to take “Sephora and Coachella and smash it into one thing” to appeal to young consumers. At the latest L.A. event, 20,000 beauty fans came to meet their influencer idols and try out the latest makeup trends, surrounded by empowering slogans and messages—true to the brand’s idea that “beauty can be something beyond a concealer culture.” Of course, brands were there “to win over the new generation”—ChapStick Duo offered cotton candy while Rimmel London’s “slayground” gave attendees a chance to set down their makeup and enjoy a jungle gym and swing set.
(The New Yorker)

It turns out saving money might not be cord cutters’ top reason for switching to streaming. Instead, a recent Magid Associates survey found that “the attractions” of SVOD programming (aka their content) is their top reason for making the move, followed by the overall decline of TV-viewing among 18-24-year-olds. Cable companies are trying to reel The Post-TV Gen back in by offering lower-cost cable bundles (so-called “skinny bundles”), but stepping up their shows might be a better first step to reversing the “accelerating” trend of cutting the cord. (TheStreet)

Pokémon is reaching out to a new generation of trainers with its first app for preschool-aged kids. Pokémon Playhouse follows in the wake of the massively successful augmented reality app, Pokémon Go (which was so popular that we put together an entire infographic on it) but won’t be AR-based. Instead, Playhouse will tap into the collectibles trend by featuring favorite characters like Pikachu for kids to collect by completing activities. There will also be puzzles and more in the app’s “interactive park.” (Kidscreen)

“I'm literally listening to music any time it is socially acceptable.”—Female, 28, MN

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