Summer marketing advice from DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince

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The warm weather this Memorial Day weekend signaled summer's earlier-than-expected arrival. In honor of my favorite season's onset and one of the greatest songs of all time, I decided to focus this week's blog post on summer marketing.

I spoke with Javelin Marketing Group's North American SVP of strategic planning, RP Kumar, who explained the difficulties and opportunities summer presents to marketers.

To verify Kumar's summer marketing assertions, I analyzed the lyrics of DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince's 1991 classic “Summertime.”

Here's what I deduced:

Compared to the holiday season, which Kumar described as “very noisy,” summer represents a “quiet period for marketers.” He said brands face a significant challenge in this period because a large portion of consumers “postpone their purchases until things settle down in September.”

The Fresh Prince's jam contrasts Kumar's contention. For the Philadelphia, Pa.-born musician, the commencement of summer meant that he had to “hustle to the mall to get me a short set/yeah I got on sneaks but I need a new pair/cause basketball courts in the summer got girls there.”

Summer, for The Fresh Prince, signaled a reason to purchase a new wardrobe, which in turn meant an opportunity for multichannel retailers to cash in. (In 1991 this would likely have meant an excellent campaign by Reebok for their fantastic Pump line.)

The Fresh Prince, who later settled as royalty in Bel Air, Calif., does concede, however, that marketing to the female demographic during the summer might be a bit of a challenge because: “the weather is hot and girls are dressing less/and checking out the fellas to tell 'em who's best.”

The Fresh Prince and Kumar also agree that it is more difficult to reach consumers through traditional channels, such as catalog and TV, during the summer months because of “greater customer fragmentation,” said Kumar. In the summer, as people become more mobile and are involved in more activities, “they're not available to receive the messaging that we give them,” noted Kumar.

The Fresh Prince echoes Kumar's sentiment in the following verse: “back in Philly we be out in the park/a place called the plateau/is where everybody goes.”

Smith's verse also includes the following cogent point:

“It's time to cruise so you head to the summertime hangout/it looks like a car show/
everybody come lookin' real fine/fresh from the barber shop or fly from the beauty salon/every moment frontin' and maxin'/chillin' in the car they spent all day waxin'/
leanin' to the side but you can't speed through/two miles an hour so everybody sees you”

Kumar said the congregation of friends and family presents a major opportunity for marketers during the warm-weather months.

“Smart marketers look for where people get together,” he said. “Music festivals, malls, live demonstrations - those are opportunities marketers should take.”

Judging from The Fresh Prince's verse, automobile and beauty industry marketers could leverage the summer months and consumer fragmentation to their advantage by playing on consumers' need to look “real fine” and spend all day “waxin” their cars.

In summation: men's clothing retailers, automobile manufacturers and beauty products suppliers should be able to find ways to benefit from the period The Fresh Prince defines as “summer madness.” Women's clothing marketers shouldn't spend too much on their summer campaigns because their products aren't necessary. And, finally, direct marketers in general will find it difficult to leverage traditional channels but should look to points of congregation to pitch their wares.

Regardless of whether you're a marketer or a consumer, it would be wise for you to heed the most important argument in The Fresh Prince's song: “Summer, summer, summertime/time to sit back and unwind.”

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