Archive for the ‘Youth’ Category
“Tennis is a ridiculously hard game, and there are a relative few who can, in the real world, reach pro status. Few of us can do much of anything well enough to attract real acclaim. But it’s a blast to try. And it’s even more fun to feel some pleasure of success from your efforts. To forget–even for a few foolish minutes–that you aren’t an uncoordinated undesirable left standing on the sidelines. That, instead, you are gifted. Talented. A winner on the court. The kind of person the captain picks first for the team.”
If you’ve played Wii Sports, you understand this and it got me thinking about why some experiences can trigger very passionate responses in people. Videogame designers have has evolved the medium from relatively simple (albeit fun) arcade style formats to realistic 3D-like environments with genres that appeal to sports enthusiasts, pilot wannabes and fantasy/role players. The Wii’s interactive controller design takes that to a new level allowing the player to use physical movements to control the game. This immersive experience puts the player on the court, field, fairway or in the case of the wildly successful Guitar Hero series, on the stage.
The question is whether or not these simulated experiences can motivate some players to try the real thing.
Beyond the numerous debates regarding the level of exercise a person gets playing Wii Sports, I haven’t seen any reports suggesting a game-inspired sporting goods sales surge, but Guitar Hero appears to be an altogether different tune.
Since its introduction on Playstation 2 in November 2005, Guitar Hero has spawned its own culture of fans and fanatics. Just check out the number of Guitar Hero videos on YouTube. The Guitar Hero series has been financially lucrative for Activision, the company behind the games. In April, 2008, Wired magazine reported that the franchise had sold 14 million units which equates to about US$1 billion in sales. Sensing an opportunity to tap into the passions of music enthusiasts following the initial launch of the game, music instrument retailer Guitar Center partnered with Activision to be the in-game virtual music store starting with Guitar Hero II. It appears their instincts were right as the musical instrument retailing industry has seen record year over year competitive store increases since the game was first introduced.
Guitar Center recently conducted a survey which “confirmed that the majority of those who play the games are more interested in picking up real instruments, it also revealed that most musicians who play the games use their real instruments more frequently as a result.”
Guitar Center’s move encouraged others in the music business to get their products into the game (literally). The latest versions of Guitar Hero are music marketing masterpieces with product placements by everything from bands to music publications and beyond. On a basic level, there is embedded advertising for products from leading manufacturers like Gibson, Mackie and JBL. These product and logo placements are both passive (a logo on the stage monitor) or active (play a Les Paul guitar). Beyond the direct music tie-ins are lifestyle placements from brands like Axe and Pontiac, and music publications like Guitar Player and Kerrang. From a content perspective, record labels have replaced the cover versions found on the original game with the real artist recordings. Players are exposed to new and “new to you” music. The more you play, the more new stuff you hear and you are more likely to listen to a song that you might otherwise turn off because you are interacting with it. The results are impressive:
- Sales of gear for first-timers at Guitar Center has surged. In the holiday selling season in the last quarter of 2007, Guitar Center saw a +20.7% jump in comparable store sales for beginner-level electric guitar & amplifiers. This surge grew even stronger through the first nine months of 2008, when Guitar Center’s cumulative comparable store sales for the category increased +26.9%.”
- Gibson said that it had seen sales on the rise, particularly those that are featured in the video games such as the iconic Les Paul guitar.
- Digital downloads of older and more obscure music featured in the game have increase dramatically.
So at its core, what is it about Guitar Hero that allows it to not only be a great piece of entertainment but also an effective marketing vehicle and an inspiration for some to take up real guitars?
It’s all about appealing to a lifestyle. Like the way Harley Davidson has figured out how to be a lifestyle company, Guitar Hero resonates with rock music Passionistas because it taps into that inner rockstar that so many have wanted to be at some point in their lives. It works because it gives players a taste of an experience that they want in a way that lets them forget–even for a few foolish minutes–that they can be more than just a fan in the audience. That, instead, you are gifted. Talented. A rocker on the stage. The kind of person who gets their face on the cover of Rolling Stone.
Do you have Passionistas as customers? Are you helping them to tap into their inner rockstar?
The exterior of the Spaceship Earth ride at Disney World’s Epcot park is perhaps one of the most recognized landmarks on Earth. Housed in the giant geodesic sphere that serves as the gateway into the Future World section of the park, the ride is one of Disney’s finest examples of audio-animatronic magic. Created in 1982, this ride takes the traveler on a journey through the history of communications technology starting with cave drawings and ending with Disney’s vision of 21st century communications. After 25 years, the ride was updated this past February but its amazing to to consider how accurate the original vision of the future was.
The final scene of the old ride depicts two teenagers talking to each other; not on the telephone, but over an audio/video link using a computer and flat panel display. The kids are neighbors of sorts, although in this future view, they are part of the same “global neighborhood”. One is apparently in the US; the other in Asia. They can see each other and the computer is translating their words into each other’s language.
In 1982 when the ride first opened, this idea must have seemed fantastic, but in the last few years, the technology and bandwidth have become generally available to enable this type of interaction. The realization of the future really being now hit home this afternoon as my family was sitting outside enjoying a warm October afternoon. As teens like to do, mine was pretty much ignoring her mom and I, and was instead, having a conversation with three friends. Of course, teens no longer tie up the landline phone for this activity like they did back in 1982. Mine prefers to use her computer and social sites like BlogTV which enables video streaming. The friends she was talking to were neighborhood kids. Global neighborhood kids to be more accurate; from Norway, Sweden and Austria.
Consider the implications of that for a minute. What was considered part of a fantastic future just a few years ago is now an everyday activity for teenagers. Soon, they will be starting their careers, building families of their own and generally running the place. How fast will their ideas and trends travel as the distance and barriers between different cultures becomes smaller and smaller? How much will they begin to see and respect one another for what they have in common instead being fearful of differences?
Spaceship Earth image courtesy of Jeff B
Steve Ballmer says, “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.” Predicting the future of the iPhone is perfect bait for marketing pundits everywhere. How about a pool and we’ll see who’s as smart as they pretend to be? So, I invite you to make a prediction, trackback it here and a year from now, we’ll take a look.
I agree with Seth; the iPhone will be big this year and even bigger next year. Here’s why:
- People, especially young teens, are totally engaged with the Apple brand.
- The cell phone and the iPod are probably the most important possessions a young teenager has.
- It will be the ultimate aspirational gadget for young teens. Having the coolest iPod and phone are status symbols for them; they get you attention. If someone else has a RAZR, you will drive your parents crazy begging for one, even if you have a perfectly good phone (voice of experience talking)
What do you think?
Just when Twittering seems to be all the rage, a new player hits the stage. It’s called Jott.com and its one of the coolest innovations I’ve seen in a while. Here is the basic idea:
You call Jott on your mobile phone. You speak the name of the person or group you want to send a message to. You speak for 30 seconds. Those sentences get transcribed and e-mailed. It could be a “note to self”, or a client, or an employee, or your team, or your spouse who never seems to have either of their two cell phones turned on (that’s another story).
Instant speech to text conversion with messaging. Kinda like a 30 second Twitter version of a podcast.
I often judge the coolness of something by using my 13-year old daughter as a barometer. She thinks Twitter is “totally geeky”, but when I showed Jott to her, she was instantly hooked. She immediately started playing with it; not for anything productive mind you, just wanted to see how much abuse it could take (singing, laughing, nonsensical jibberish). She also told her friends about it and they started Jotting each other. The hyper-connected youth have yet another way to communicate.
I have to agree with Drew McLellan who predicts that Jott “is going to be the breakout of 2007”. Drew suggests several ways he is going to use it:
- Dictate notes from meetings and send them to myself for a record. Jott it.
- I’m pulling out of a client’s parking lot and send a note to our Project Manager about opening a new job. Jott him.
- Forget milk? Never again. Jott me.
- Have a breakthrough idea while waiting to board a plane — jott my entire staff before I forget said idea. Jott the team.
- Want to remind my daughter to do XYZ but she’s going to get home before I do. Jott her.
- See someone across the way at Panera and want to remember to call them in a week or so. Jott me.
- Have forgotten to grab a book from the office 3 times. Jott me.
- All the stuff that I try to write down before I forget it. Jott me. Jott me. Jott me.
The other reason this may be big is that it is potentially disruptive to the wireless carriers. Think about it. Text Messaging is hot. Over 80 Million US subscribers sent over 100 Billion text messages last year (Pew Research). Teenagers have made it a routine way to communicate. Most individual subscriber plans charge $.02 per message sent and received. With Jott, you never have to pay to send a message, so you can send more messages under you current plan, or reduce your monthly costs by switching to a plan that allows fewer messages.
Now if someone will just build a simple interface to allow me to Jott to my Twitter account, I’ll be in lifelogging heaven.
Michael Urlocker’s blog, Urlocker on Disruption, has a great post giving his take on an interview that UK’s The Register did with Peter Jenner, former manager of such top rock bands as the Clash, Pink Floyd and Billy Bragg. Jenner says record labels are doomed unless they end their flawed approach to music downloads. And while this most obviously applies to tradition music companies, who have continually demonstrated that they just don’t get it, Jenner also warns that Apple’s iTunes is out of step with the youth that purchase most of the music.
Despite the success of iTunes, which has racked up 1.5 billion dollar-a-song downloads in the past five years, the model just does not reflect how youth today use downloads.
“The unitary payment doesn’t suit the technology, it doesn’t suit how they are actually using downloads. You don’t want to pay a dollar for each track when you want to explore music.”
According to Jenner, this all ads up to an industry facing disruption. Urlocker comments:
In many ways, the issues Jenner highlights have shown themselves to be critical in other industries that have faced disruption, including telecommunications, newspapers and the auto industry.
The recording industry is awash in incompetence protected by an oligopoly power structure of the four largest music labels, Jenner says. Highlights from the interview:
Digital rights management schemes are a scam because they force listeners to pay multiple times for the same product; The music industry has started to give up on these schemes; Music labels should outsource everything except finance and distribution; Within a few years, blanket license regimes will be in place in most countries, despite the early political failure of such a regime in France; The battles over online music downloads are precursor skirmish compared to the bigger battle: Mobile music downloads
The once-proud Tower Records is now edging closer to the rocks, according to continued reports. The chain has been struggling with mounting debt, and major labels were recently forced to freeze shipments following various non-payments.
This is symptomatic of the failure of the entire music industry, from labels to retailers, to sense and respond to the disruptive shift that was Digital Music.
Several months back, Piers Fawlkes over at PSFK commented on the closing of several large chains in Britain saying,
The concept of the mega-music store in its current form comes from a pre-digital era: pile it high, twist the arms of record companies to pay for placement, limit stock. The digital music revolution came and went and HMVs and Virgin Megastores remained largely unchanged.
(Screencap taken from the Day of the Longtail video)
With their vast arsenals of electronic gear, they are the most entertained generation ever. Yet the YouTubing, MySpacing, multi-tasking teens and young adults widely seen as Hollywood’s most wanted audience are feeling — can it be? — a bit bored with it all.
A new Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll, the first in a series of annual entertainment surveys, finds that a large majority of the 12- to 24-year-olds surveyed are bored with their entertainment choices some or most of the time, and a substantial minority think that even in a kajillion-channel universe, they don’t have nearly enough options. “I feel bored like all the time, ’cause there is like nothing to do,” said Shannon Carlson, 13, of Warren, Ohio, a respondent who has an array of gadgets, equipment and entertainment options at her disposal but can’t ward off the boredom.
They do seem to be passionate about their electronic devices, though, especially their computers, which ranked even above cellphones when respondents were offered a “desert island” choice of one item. Still, the poll suggests that the revolution in entertainment, media and technology for which many in Hollywood are already developing strategies has not yet taken hold.
The LA Times will be publishing details in 4 key categories (Movies, Music, TV, & Tweens) over the remainder of this week. Here is the preview (courtesy of Ypulse):
Aug. 8 – Movies
Hollywood has followed a rigid moviemaking formula for decades: produce long features, show them first in theaters, release them on video, then broadcast them on television. This dusty model just might not be good enough anymore.
Cell phones and video iPods aren’t the answers, yet. Teens may not be ready to watch short films on these devices, but they’re dying for something new and exciting.
Aug. 9 – Music
In the music industry, copied CDs and so-called “school-yard” piracy is now considered a greater threat than illegal peer-to-peer downloading.
For some teens, copying purchased CDs or DVDs is legal, while copying stolen music or movies is a crime. A look at the widespread confusion that proliferates as the line between piracy and legality becomes ever murkier in the iTunes age.
Aug. 10 – Television
Entertainment purveyors may be rushing to package their content into mobisodes, video downloads and podcasts — that no one needs. Teens and young adults — the generation most likely to be the early adapters of this new technology — have yet to fully embrace it.
Jon Stewart, watch out. Of all media sources, teens and young adults say they’re least likely to get their news from edgy comedy shows, MTV or even the Internet. Try local TV news.
Aug. 11 – Tweens
A fun book … music playing on the computer … a PlayStation 2 game in the console … email … and surfing the Web. And homework, too.
The ability to juggle homework, entertainment and communication with friends has become a key requirement for the modern teenager.
The five-part series will be available beginning Aug. 7 at http://www.latimes.com/entertainmentpoll. Corresponding poll results and analysis for each daily installment will be posted at http://www.latimes.com/timespoll.
Asian American youngsters are increasingly producing the key trends in pop culture that are being embraced by mainstream American youth culture, according to a study from New American Dimensions and InterTrend Communications. Word-of-mouth marketing may be a key to this segment, the report suggests.
According to the study, entitled Made in America: Asian American Teens and Echo Boomers, Asian American youngsters are likely to view themselves as trendsetters in three distinct cultural categories: technology and gadgetry, Anime and Manga (cartoon art), and video gaming.
Read more at The Wise Marketer