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

“[Anna Victoria is] a good role model to women and is changing the way the world looks at fitness and body image.”—Female, 21, CA

Abercrombie & Fitch is going gender-neutral for their new kids’ clothing line. The “Everybody Collection” features “tops, bottoms, and accessories” for five-14-year-old boys and girls. A&F’s Brand President explained their decision to appeal to The Genreless Generation: "Parents and their kids don’t want to be confined to specific colors and styles, depending on whether shopping for a boy or a girl.'' The line of 25 new styles will be rolling out online and to 70 stores, starting this month. (Today)

Millennials & Gen Z already think the Nintendo Switch is cool, and now the brand is giving them more ways to use it. They’re introducing Nintendo Labo, “cardboard-based, interactive DIY experiences” for the Switch, tapping into the “toys-to-life” trend. The variety kit lets players construct five different “Toy-Con” experiences that include turning the Joy-Con controller into a motorbike handle complete with a throttle that can be twisted to accelerate, and creating a piano that senses which keys are pressed to produce the correct musical note. (Kidscreen)

YouTube is pulling Tide Pod Challenge videos from its platform. Teens started eating Tide pods when memes showcasing their Gusher-like colors went viral. The brand has since issued warnings not to eat the pods, and some stores have even begun locking up the product. YouTube has explained the decision to take down the popular pod-eating videos as a continuation of their policy to “prohibit content that’s intended to encourage dangerous activities that have an inherent risk of physical harm." Some are suggesting that pressure from parent company Procter & Gamble may have also been a factor. (Mashable)

The streaming wars are continuing, but audiences are turning to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime for very different kinds of content. Hub Entertainment Research found original content is winning users' time on Netflix, while over half watch Hulu for its syndicated collection, and movies are most popular on Amazon Prime. The study also found that most Americans overall spend their entertainment time watching TV (40%), but 18-24-year-olds are most likely to engage with gaming and online video, like YouTube. (Quartz)

Outdoor Voices embraced Millennials’ minimal moment to break onto the athleisure scene. The brandless brand goes for a minimalist aesthetic with pops of color, and sees itself as an anti-Nike of sorts. The founder explains that they’re “a recreational Nike” because “With Nike and so many other brands, it’s really about being an expert, being the best. With OV, it’s about how you stay healthy—and happy.” Whatever they’re doing, it’s working: the company has grown rapidly since it was founded in 2013, climbing a startling 800% in 2016 alone. (Vogue)

“I saw some heartbreaking stories in the internet, and decided to look up some international charities and donate to them.”—Male, 20, WA

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