Buzz Marketing

By Christopher Zoukis

The problem in marketing to children is how to make and impression on them, how to stand out. Children are bombarded by so much advertising that marketers have to find a way to avoid mediocrity. One way to do this is through “buzz marketing,” which is to utilize the most popular children to create “buzz” about a luxury product. The company provides popular kids with the product, asking them to wear it or use it. In other words, these popular kids are being asked to provide “street-cred” or “coolness” to the product. It is a form of viral marketing and is very effective, because it is easily translated to texting or twittering, and social networking sites.  Image courtesy

Another avenue for successful marketing of luxury products is school. For example, Apple computers are supplied to the computer labs at elementary schools. Apple not only exposes children to its products, but adds to its reputation as a “caring” company. Justice, a luxury brand of children’s clothing, sponsors educational programs at schools. These programs provide elementary students with the opportunity to see and handle exotic animals. Since elementary students are at an age when they are very “animal aware,” the program connects with them emotionally. This connection carries over to the sponsoring brand.

Of course, the internet is an extremely effective method of marketing to children. It is part of their culture, which means they have never known anything else. The internet is part of their daily lives. Children spend hours online without any supervision. Added to this is the fact that most parents have no understanding of how much marketing occurs on websites for children. These websites provide the perfect matrix for creating and building brand loyalty. The most vital factor of online marketing to children might be this: it is easy to track and collect data for future marketing to the same children.

Music, movies, and video games are luxury products that all children grow up desiring. Marketing campaigns on television, radio, and the internet are very effective in targeting young people.

For example, the online boutique opened for business at the end of 2008. LilSophisticate (LS) markets and sells “pint-size luxury.” The online store offers boutique style products for children, items that cannot be found anywhere else. Not only does LS offer unique luxury products, but LS has designed the “shopping experience” to be fun, beautiful, and luxurious. With such products as fairy tale luxury playhouses, diamond encrusted pacifiers, and luxury bedding, LS appeals to parents and grandparents who desire only the best for their children. LS is counting on the “wow factor” to sell its products.

Part of the LS experience involves special touches and promotions that provide a sense of interaction with the website. A “kid quote” contest allows shoppers to send in witty quotes from children. The quotes are placed on the site and the best quote receives a $500 gift card.

Leslie Speidel, a marketing consultant, believes the internet provides the best way to market luxury items to children. Why? Because the internet gives people who do not have access to high-end luxury products the opportunity to buy it. For example, Harina Kapoor’s started her online store with her own money. Within a few years, she was selling more than $1 million of luxury items and had 10 employees.

Laurie McCartney started, which offers $75 pillow shams, DKNY cashmere sweaters for babies, along with pewter rattles. When the company went public, it raised more than $60 million, and has a staff of 200. McCartney did research before she opened her online business. She found mentors and utilized their expertise and experience. She carefully selected and trained her staff members, and hired the very best web designers.

Steffanee Taylor co-founded in San Jose, California. The website went from 300 hits per month to 15,000 hits per month. How? Through directory listings, word-of-mouth referrals, and marketing which included direct mail.

Each of these online businesses caters to affluent customers who are anxious for quality luxury products for their children. Entrepreneur talked with Jack Gifford, professor of marketing at Miami University, to find out what is going on with children and luxury products. Gifford said, “People are having smaller families, and many of them are dual-income, so there more money to spend. And if mom and dad are spending all that time working, they feel guilty about not being there, so they’re looking to make up for it in other ways.”

One of those ways is buying luxury products and services for their kids.