The Bridge Between Cupcakes and Marketing

Prior to RedBox, most of us only thought of vending machines for drinks and candy bars. With the entry of gourmet vending, it would appear that virtually anything is accessible. You can purchase Proactiv in your local mall and Apple products in many airports. The vending concept has eliminated the human component, but doesn’t eliminate the need for a brand to have enough integrity to get the consumer to walk up and insert money.


Having thought that I had heard just about everything, enter Sprinkles Bakery. For those of you who are Entourage fans, Sprinkles is a favorite bribery tactic for Jeremy Piven’s character. He’s known to sweet talk women, quite literally, with the gift of a Sprinkles cupcake. Sprinkles is a Beverly Hills bakery who has now brought their goodies to the masses via, you guessed it, a vending machine.



The question is, what does this mean for marketers? The added means by which a brand can extend its reach, coupled with the excitement that is generated through instant gratification, should act as a lesson to those of us who immerse ourselves in IMC. The landscape is changing and we have an amazing opportunity to bring concepts like this to the Gen Now and Gen Y world. Let’s get vending!


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Do I have any KLOUT?

One thing we know for certain about GenX is that they are immersed in the workplace and are genuinely worried about their positions and the success of the company they work for. More are more are finding their friends unemployed or starting small businesses because their firm downsized. The trend of layoffs is on the downswing, but that doesn’t mean that this group is any less concerned with how they are perceived.

Have you ever wondered how many people you influence or how widespread your reach? If you have wondered personally, there are companies in the world that are worrying double for you. Enter This website takes stock of your influence over all your social networks and converts them into a score, with 100 being the highest level of influence. It measures things such as friends, followers, retweets, and posts, all the while providing you with your “True Reach” number.

Because your number is based a great deal on how often your friends or fans engage you in conversation, this tool is an excellent one for businesses to use in order to raise their clout. I would encourage you log on and take a look. Link your account to your social networking sites so that your score is true and relevant. Let me know what you find!

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QR what? You mean like Q-R-S-T-U-V??

The influx of QR (Quick Response) codes has brought many marketers to the place where they ask “do we really need them?” and “how do we use them to benefit our brand or provide the consumer additional information that they wouldn’t have had otherwise?” Both valid questions and while there is no hard and fast rule as to the ways in which QR codes can benefit your brand, there are certainly examples of ways in which they should not be used.

In a recent Mashable article, Christine Erickson explores some of the most epic failures of QR codes over the last several years. I encourage you to catch up on the full post here, but in the mean time, enjoy a couple of these image examples.

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Generation X – Practicality Rules

There so much to the Generation X group that it is hard to capture in one post. Good thing I have an unlimited supply of posts to cover it all!

To recap, Generation X is its family formation years, which make them practical yet digitally aggressive. They want to do things themselves and are not willing to compromise in order to make it happen. They will trade down in order to then trade up in the future. They are ages 35-44 and occupy 43 million spots on this great planet. And I just so happen to be a Gen X’er.

It’s interesting to me that I am just now starting to see the true picture of the Gen X movement come into view. That might sound odd, but I think that often we don’t have  good sense for our own generation until we see those that follow us. The overwhelming content that surrounds GenNow and the Digital Since Birth groups sets up a perfect framework for the evaluation of GenX and how it has molded digital media.

Not forgetting that this blog strives to focus on new and emerging trends in media, let’s take a look at a couple of fun ideas that are helping this generation improve their lives.

The Wacom Inkling is a innovative product that strikes a chord for those of us who take many hand written notes in meetings – and often those notes are partnered with doodles or sketches. I’m not talking about the flower sketch that you have been drawing since you were 15 and you still put in the upper right hand corner of every page. I’m talking about ideas, concepts and charts. The Inkling is a digital sketch pen that writes with a ballpoint tip on any standard paper or sketchbook. It captures all the movements of the sketch and then transfers those images to your computer for additional refining.

Many of us are taking notes on our iPad or tablets as well. I personally like Note Taker HD for my iPad and I use it regularly in meetings. But because I’m a Creative Director, I naturally process conversations through pictures. The Inkling is the perfect addition to my stash of electronic gadgets.

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Digital Shopping – Keeping GenNow Engaged

Earlier this week we viewed an interesting video that brought vending machines into the new decade. Today, let’s check out this innovative approach to sorting through clothing racks.

Japanese retailer, 109 Men’s store, has introduced digital interactive clothes hangers which talk to digital displays above the products, triggering certain images and videos to be played when the hangers are picked up by a shopper. Is there nothing that won’t be digital shortly? If the Gen Now customers have any say, I certainly doubt it.

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When do they want it? NOW!!

We’ve looked at how our youngest generation, the Digital Natives, have adjusted to the media blitz that is occurring under our noses, so let’s now tackle the most savvy and demanding of the cohorts – Generation Now  (aka Gen Y). As a reminder, this group is huge – 84+ million strong. They are between ages 15-34 are the largest group of multi-taskers that we have in society today. There’s nothing that isn’t 24/7 for them – the don’t shut their phones off at night, often sleeping with them on their bedside or under their pillows and they consider themselves “plugged in” at all times. Digital consumption is a given for them – which makes them the IDEAL candidate for a blog entry here at Trending Interaction.

Understanding their tendencies, there are so many things that the generation brings to the table. One thing that many media companies need to be reminded of is their lack of brand loyalty. This group is shifting their preferences away from the brands that they grew up with, making for, no doubt, lengthy discussions among marketers. Take a look at this chart from the Hartman Group.

Sure, these channels are primarily mass market, drug and grocery channels, but apart from online shopping, this is the comfort zone for this group. Remember, this generation is packed full of post-college graduates who have moved home because the job market is not friendly to them – there’s no reason why the details in this chart wouldn’t be accurate.

So, how do we reach them? They want to be surprised and they want to be made to feel as if they are on the edge of innovation. Understanding this goes a long way. Take a look at this vending machine that is being tested in the Asian market. It is touch-screen prompted and allows for an interactive exchange between product and purchaser. This is exactly the kind of thing that Generation Now is looking for in product and media innovation.

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Digital Natives – How Quick They Learn

So we’ve started looking at how emerging media is important across all generational boundaries, but let’s also look at how the sub groupings differ. The affect that media is having on each group is yet to be known, but it is obvious that things are changing. No place is this more true than with our youngest – the DIGITAL NATIVES. This group has been immersed in technology from the beginning, knowing nothing other than cell phones, tablets, laptops and iPods. Their ability to make something work has astounded many of us, I’m sure. I’m continually amazed at my five-year-old niece as she picks up my iPhone and does things on it that I would have never thought she was capable of. They may not be interested in talking on the smartphone at this age, but they are certainly savvy enough to understand the operation and use that knowledge to their advantage.

Here’s an amazing statistic: approximately 50 percent of kids have paid for their first form of digital content by the age of seven. SEVEN!!

Take, for instance, the way that Lego® has been integrated into technology. The Life With George application times the child on building a certain item with their LEGOs. Once the child is done, they snap a picture of the challenge and they receive a timestamp, rating and feedback. They can have fun alone or compete against other players. Check out the video below to see how our DIGITAL NATIVES are embracing this trending technology more than ever.

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