Mountain Dew: From hillbillies to hip-hop

Here’s a fascinating read from Business Week about Mountain Dew.

PepsiCo understandably wants to create a thirst for its Mountain Dew brand in a greater market. The sugary drink has roots in the hillbilly culture of the Southeast and moonshine liquor, which was nicknamed Mountain Dew. Now, PepsiCo has enlisted hip-hop artist Lil Wayne and street skateboarder Paul Rodriguez to entice potential customers age 18 to 24 to pop the top on their product.

I won’t go into the whole story here, since you can read it on Business Week’s site, but this is a smart move for several reasons. Why not try to broaden your product’s appeal? The target age audience is increasingly diverse and is often located in urban areas outside the Southeast. Coca-Cola’s Sprite and Fanta have gained market share in that age bracket.

I love Mountain Dew and Sprite both, but in a nod to PepsiCo’s brilliant marketing move, I’ll choose a Mountain Dew the next time I need a refreshing drink, and I’ll think of hillbillies and hip-hop while I do so.


Observations on brands in social media

I have only a few minutes to talk about this interesting read on social media and branding on Fast Company, so here are some observations:

Dunkin’ Donuts: People trust other real people and connect with them more than they do to talking animals or celebrities. And unless you’re trying to set up your brand as the Rolex of your industry (the superior product differentiation strategy), it may not make sense to say how superior your product is – show people, don’t tell them.

Clinique: I agree with the observation on Clinique’s “how-to” videos being more socially relevant than Axe’s frat-house humor. There’s a good reason “how-to” books are consistently big sellers: Consumers are looking for useful information on “how to” do many things. Take a look at your product or service and ask yourself what sort of “how-to” tutorial you can offer to build value to your audience.

Gimmicks: There may be a time and a place for gimmicks, but they just are not effective in the long-term. Find creative ways to play up the unique features of your product – fresh, never-frozen burger patties are a great selling point for a burger chain because of the taste and quality factors (ask Five Guys Burgers and Fries execs why their burgers outperformed McDonald’s and other, larger chains in a recent survey).

Finally, the article makes a good point. Social networking isn’t for everyone (Gillette’s campaign on shaving the “nether region” sends chills down my spine). Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.

The brilliance of pink rope

My girlfriend’s car was rear-ended the other day. She and the other driver were alright, fortunately. But, her car’s bumper was twisted out of place, which prevents the trunk from closing.

We went to Lowe’s Home Improvement to buy rope so I could tie down the trunk until the insurance companies work things out and send her car to the body shop. While I knew, intellectually, that home improvement stores had taken a number of steps some time back to market to female consumers, this visit was my first personal experience with the phenomenon. Lowe’s and its competitors began offering workshops for women-only as well as retooling their inventories to include such items as tools with extra cushioning on the grips.

Not to mention carrying rope in more colors than just white or brown. I was about to walk off with the white rope when my girlfriend grabbed the pink product. I take my hat off to the manufacturer of the bright pink product for taking advantage of product differentiation so successfully.

Lowe’s has also become a master at planning product placement to move more inventory, according to The “planograms,” or data-driven shelf plans, influence where is item is placed on shelves. The plan is created through the use of analytical software to determine which products make the most profit and what location gets the best results.  Major suppliers have access to Lowe’s store layouts. Baseline cites a retail expert who credits planograms with helping Lowe’s target women through attention to atmosphere and aesthetics.

It’s working so far with my girlfriend. …

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