I am always curious about how brands market to younger generations, so I decided to check out VidCon. I read about VidCon and thought it was such a genius idea to create an event that brings YouTube Celebrities to their fans. A quick note: John Green, one of the co-founders, is also the author of a book I love, the Fault in Our Stars, a New York Times bestseller and a popular movie. The VidCon attendees are mostly kids, teens, and young adults. Therefore, it’s a great event for checking out:
- Aspiring Video content creators (YouTubers)
- Understanding younger demographics
- Brands’ approaches to reach out to the next generation of millennials.
I attended multiple sessions, walked around the Expo Hall, and talked to young attendees during breaks. Here are some of my personal observations of the event as a B2B marketer.
Different creative approaches to reach attendees
Nike, Facebook, Instagram, Nickelodeon, NBC Universal, Mountain Dew (Game Fuel), Mattel (Barbie), Nerf, AXE deodorant, and Canon camera had big exhibit spaces. It’s challenging to win young audiences’ mind shares on-site. Every brand tried to make sure their booths stood out.
Several brands did a great job of connecting fun and interaction with their products.
Try our products and have FUN!
Who doesn’t like Nerf guns? I have several at home. They created a big arena to let everyone try different Nerf guns. When you heard the shooting, screaming and laughing inside the arena, it made you want to play, too. Although they didn’t sell any products on-site, they also had a wall to display their complete product lines. By creating the big play zone, they let attendees experience their products real-time. And have FUN.
Mountain Dew’s Game Fuel followed a similar approach. The best way to showcase the drink was in the gaming environment. So, they set up several playing stations. People could play games and enjoy the drink at the same time.
This deodorant brand took a similar approach with a different twist. They brought in a big RV. It made a big presence! Inside the RV was a barbershop which gave boys and men haircuts. Yes, you heard me right, a haircut. I know AXE as a deodorant brand, but I didn’t know that they also sell hair and body wash products.
They offered people haircuts on-site and used the opportunity to showcase products such as shampoos, gels, and color styling pastes. That was a subtle way to educate young adults on how to look stylish. Outside the RV, AXE set up game zones which allowed boys to play games and chill. That was not it. They were proactively giving away free samples. If you didn’t get a haircut, well, you could try free samples at home.
Nerf, Game Fuel, and AXE not only showcased their products but also created an interactive and fun environment for attendees to experience their products. With AXE, free-samples were a big plus to extend usage after the event.
Connecting marketing to sales
Its exhibit space was small (30×40) compared to other major brands. They used a “Glamping” theme by bringing in an Airstream (RV) to the venue. They set up interactive areas inside and outside the Airstream to allow attendees to pose and take pictures using Canon cameras.
— Canon USA Imaging (@CanonUSAimaging) July 13, 2019
— Canon USA Imaging (@CanonUSAimaging) July 12, 2019
In addition, they set up a table to showcase a wide array of digital cameras. A full staff stood by to talk to anyone who was interested in learning about cameras’ features. In addition to existing product lines, they also showcased their proof-of-concept products such as Ivy Cliq, an instant mobile camera printer, and Ivy REC, a Clippable, Go Anywhere Camera.
Their approach was no different than Nerf, Game Fuel, and AXE, BUT they made products available on-site. If you were interested in buying products on-the-spot, you could!!
Hobby Kids Adventures:
HobbyKidsTV, a family-run children’s channel with 3 million-plus subscribers. The parents and 3 kids have been on YouTube since 2013. I first read about HobbyKids TV in Wired Magazine., HobbyKidsTV, YouTube, and the New World of Child Stars.
They didn’t have a big exhibit space, but they certainly knew their audiences well. In their little space, they made sure that they created 3 obstacles for their young audiences to play through. The 1st obstacle was a Robot Bop Bag: You could punch Robot Boppin Bag and it would bounce back. The 2nd one was called ‘Slime Toss’, in which balls were tossed into a bucket. The 3rd obstacle was a Disc Shooter in which you used a wrist launcher, like a handgun that tied to your wrist, to shoot discs into targets. Once you played the 3 games, you could get a free T-shirt with your choice of Hobby Kids Adventure designs.
These games were designed to engage with their young audiences and were strategically tied to their merchandise. If you are a fan of HobbyKidsTV, you could also buy those toys on-the-spot.
As a B2B marketer who works closely with sales, being able to sell products anywhere is music to my ears. That’s the best way to demonstrate marketing value: not just build brand awareness and drive demand, but also help the sales team close sales. Canon and HobbyKidsTV exhibit spaces covered the purchase funnel from awareness to purchase. I love it.
For some, It’s all about sales
Some exhibitors such as Crownmade, Creator Ink, etc. are merchandising companies or fulfillment houses that partner with YouTubers to sell branded merchandise. They featured products prominently, most of them were T-shirts. They set up their booths like a retail outlet counter. It was all about sales.
Attendees were excited to be there. The event also provided several meet-and-greets to allow fans to get up close and personal with their stars. Vidcon offered an opportunity to allow young content creators to network and share ideas. It was amazing to hear them talking about which technology tools to create better videos, how to better tell stories and break through the clutter.
They are way more sophisticated than I was at their age. Reaching out to younger generations is very different than communicating with typical B2B marketing professionals. I am glad that I had an opportunity to talk to many young content creators and get a pulse on the next generation of marketers.