The Hasbro Model
There were a number of interesting presentations during Lenzing's celebration of the 20th anniversary of its Tencel fiber earlier this month in New Orleans.
As far as consumers were concerned - understanding what's important to them and creating products and marketing that appeals to them - the focus was very much on Millennials, who are roughly between 13 and 29 years old. And the remark that really stuck with me from the day had to do with surveys that have shown today's adults believe their children will not be better off than the generations that preceded them.
That is an insult, said Sam Moore, who works with Millennials every day as managing director of the Hohenstein Institute America.
It assumes the emerging generation is less innovative, less motivated and less entrepreneurial than its predecessors. In fact, its members have been tech savvy practically from the cradle and are interconnected in ways previously unimaginable.
As the Pew Research Center noted: "They are the first generation in human history who regard behaviors like tweeting and texting, along with websites like Facebook, YouTube, Google and Wikipedia, not as astonishing innovations of the digital era, but as everyday parts of their social lives and their search for understanding."
And they expect companies that want to sell them stuff to listen to their concerns. We saw a fine example of that a couple of weeks ago, when Hasbro announced it would begin making its Easy Bake Oven in colors that appeal to boys and will begin featuring boys as well as girls on its packaging.
The oven's long-standing pitch to girls, and only girls, became a cause celebre in social media earlier this month thanks to a 13-year-old New Jersey girl named McKenna Pope. Her four-year-old brother likes to cook and wanted an Easy Bake Oven, but didn't want one "for girls."
Pope first took to Facebook, then launched a petition on Change.org that got more than 40,000 signatures. On Dec. 18, Pope and her family were meeting with Hasbro executives, who unveiled a black and silver prototype it had been developing for several months.
It was a win for consumers, a win for social media and a big win for Hasbro, whose quick and positive action pushed the story out into the national media - as a tale about a hero big sister and a company that cares.
That's not a future brands need to prepare themselves for. It's already reality. The question is how well marketers are listening.