Household brands observe parents' needs in defining segmentation tactics

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Household brands observe parents' needs in defining segmentation tactics
Household brands observe parents' needs in defining segmentation tactics

As households brace themselves for the annual back-to-school shopping season later this summer, marketers will rely on digital media, and in particular social media, to reach time-starved parents. Those efforts are evolving well beyond merely "friending" favorite brands. 

Marketers and agencies are conjuring up more relevant content to increase engagement and making those outreach efforts more targeted by slicing and dicing the online parent community into more discrete segments through behavioral targeting and sophisticated analytics. 

"We don't see digital and social as separate media," says Mark Stewart, VP of global media services at Kraft Foods. "We see them as ingredients in everything we do." 

Kraft Foods is sponsoring HerSay, an online video series aimed at young mothers that covers lifestyle topics drawn from online blogs in a talk show format. 

"For big brands, 2011 is the year of convergence, where your digital supports your traditional and your traditional supports digital," says Rustin Banks, CEO of BlogFrog, a blogger platform that works with brands including Horizon organic milks by WhiteWave Foods Co. and Sears Holdings Corp.'s Kenmore appliances. 

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Digital media have won the race for parents' limited free time, though. According to Experian Marketing Services research, parents' Internet use exceeds that of the average American by a wide margin. Experian's technology segmentation survey found moms are 34% more likely than the average US adult to buy products online and 33% more likely to participate in a blog.

In order to maintain engagement online, marketers are experimenting with different types of content, trying to harness word of mouth or add expert tips and useful advice for families. 

"We're now really trying to understand how to deliver engagement and leverage the blogosphere," says John McCarus, SVP of brand content at Digitas, which worked on HerSay with MediaVest's Kraft Foods One Team and Deca TV, a women's digital media company. The content on HerSay has to be portable to enable it to be forwarded and embedded in other blogs and social as part of that leveraging process, he adds.

"We don't want to indict other legacy media channels, but I do think this is a space where we have incredibly time-starved audiences that are hungry for information that they need right now, and brands are stepping in to facilitate and curate that," says McCarus. 

Parents' need for information opens a door for marketers to start brand conversations, say experts. It's a challenge to offer something relevant and creative. This is an area where experts and word-of-mouth programs come in handy. 

For example, Kimberly-Clark is launching an effort for its GoodNites diapers that includes a panel of experts offering advice on bed-wetting, and a brand website redesign to make advice more available to parents. 

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