To promote its new HomeTeam app, which connects children with far-away grandparents, Panasonic launched the #MakeReadingLessScary campaign, aimed at creating dialogue around social health across generations on social media. The campaign successfully expanded Panasonic’s reach, and showed how a brand can pivot its marketing towards an app and less traditional audiences.
Although seniors aren’t the first market one would think of for social media, older consumers are out there listening. A Pew Research Center study released earlier this month found that while only 35 percent of Americans over 65 use social networking sites like Facebook, these users tend to use the sites more than other users. More importantly, 27 percent of older adults own either an eBook reader or a tablet. Our team at Panasonic has developed a unique project: Helping seniors better connect with their loved ones through technology, and we’re using social media to reach out and spread our message. While our strategy started off with some experimentation, it’s evolving into highly successful campaign, with high engagement rates.
Evolving Consumer Marketing Strategies For The App Space
In the spirit of Halloween, last month our team launched #MakeReadingLessScary, a campaign centered around our app, HomeTeam. Our goal was to reach families – and for many families, Halloween means trick or treating, costumes, parties, and other things that are a lot of fun, but not necessarily educational or beneficial to older family members social health. There are countless grandparents or military parents who would love to share in Halloween traditions with their families, but are physically far away. So we built a Halloween wellness campaign that encouraged healthy activities like reading or playing together – learning together being the experience we want to foster for our end users.
Enabling Special Family Moments
Many people think of Panasonic only as a consumer electronics company, but about 85 percent of our business is in the B2B market and our company is now expanding into apps. HomeTeam is a product we launched in 2015 as part of our company’s Health and Wellness division. It targets a market of families that are geographically distant from their grandparents, and allows grandparents to read books and play games with their grandchildren across the country or anywhere around the world. As a grandparent (or anyone else) turns a page on the app, their loved one hundreds or thousands miles away sees the page flip and their face on video chat. The service has either an annual or monthly subscription fee (and includes a free trial month so families can see if it’s the right fit) and can be used on the web or through our iOS and Android apps. Our launch was somewhat of a soft one, which helped our marketing considerably. One of the great advantages of apps is that you can rapidly update and improve your functionality. After launching, we enhanced our communications functionality, added content from popular publishers like Disney, Pixar, and Marvel, and improved our UI, among other things.
Marketing For Nontraditional Audiences
For us, creating an app and viable marketing campaigns to support new audiences was a simple exercise of finding the most underserved cohorts. Pew research also found that the number of Americans over the age of 65 using social media jumped from 19 percent in 2012 to 35 percent today. One thing we learned quickly in marketing HomeTeam is that we needed to understand the different audiences of grandparents, grandchildren, and even parents as the connectors of the two, but grandparents and grandkids could be treated as one target market based on their social media behavior. We discovered there are families in all sorts of circumstances, where children are geographically far away from one parent or another – or even have aunts, uncles, or family friends in far-away cities. When we launched HomeTeam, it catapulted us directly into the worlds of consumer app development and social health and wellness. This meant quickly mastering audience segmentation for the app world and conducting in-depth research of a specific slice of social media users. Panasonic has a robust social media presence, but conducting campaigns for iPad apps is quite different than conducting a campaign for a Blu-ray player. We had to test, test again, and iterate quickly to accomplish the results we achieved. It also meant continuing how we leverage social media across all our businesses. Rather than just getting our message out to customers, we also listen to customer feedback online and hear what they say back to us. This ends up influencing the design of our product, and has helped us gauge the correct approach for this campaign.
Engaging With Family From A Distance
We found many of our older users wanted solutions to help them engage socially, and that informed our marketing for this product. Your world can start to shrink as you get old. It’s hard to have a meaningful conversation at a long distance with a child, and grandparents don’t want video chat situations where you ask how their day was, and you get a one-word reaction that it was “Fine.” This made us realize the backbone of our campaign was providing a way to engage with children from a distance – and emphasizing the idea of books, games, and video chats to provide an experience that they would have in real life, all through a computer or tablet. Our messaging for this campaign and others tells grandparents that this is “Their Love, Our Connection.” Our initial results showed that this message tested well. Most importantly, it provided HomeTeam with the ammunition for our first seasonal campaign for HomeTeam and a successful base for further experiment with time-specific marketing activities. With the success of this campaign, and reaching new audiences, we plan to explore the possibilities of seasonal-themed content for geographically dispersed audiences.