Friday, March 1

Curls for Girls

If you know me, then you know I love watching consumer behavior.  It's the heart and soul of good marketing, because after all "marketing is a spectator sport!"  So you can imagine my delight the other day as I watched a group of late-aged teenage boys rushing into the gym.

They were debating what their workout for the day should be, and got into a whole conversation about "curls for girls."

I was marveling at the exchange.  No "curls for girls" is not a hairstyle or a light workout - evidently it's an intense bicep/tricep routine that one of the guys created to pump up his arms to get the girls to notice him.

Ok, a few things.

I had completely forgotten how this age group is obsessed with the opposite sex.  Everything is about the girls - getting the girls, who are the girls, do you know the girls, what about the girls, etc.

I had also forgotten, even though I myself have a teenage son, how they travel in packs.  Getting the attention of one is getting the attention of many.

And thirdly, there always seems to be a very clear ring leader in each group although my observations also reveal that the ring leader can change in any given group based on the topic at hand: girls, fitness, school, cars, music, etc.  But there's always one thought leader that emerges from the group to persuade the others to follow.

It's all a bit about marketing, don't you think.  Understand the obsessions, figure out what the packs are, determine the ring leaders to drive influence.  There you have it ... now you just have to naturally get your brand into the middle of the action, invited in.

So here I am, trying to relax and escape at the gym, and I'm turning a chance observation into a consumer learning experience.  I reminded myself that a great way to get to continually understand a target market is to jump into their space and observe.  "Curls for Girls" indeed.

Guess that's why I love marketing. What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe NA
Author, The Experience Effect series
Marketing Professor, NYU

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