Prepare for the 4th and 5th screens. Thanks to evolving telematics, the 4th screen will be in the car. Already, manufacturers like Audi and Ford are far along in developing in-car platforms that will deliver personalized information to enhance the ride for both the passenger and the driver. Wondering what retail stores may suit your taste on the street you are driving down? Want to find the best pizza in the vicinity? Need to know the fastest rush-hour route to your destination based on current traffic patterns? In the not-too-distant future, it may be your car making recommendations. It will be incumbent on brands to figure out how they can add value to the in-car experience without jeopardizing the safety (or sanity) of the driver.
The 5th screen will be in retail. Many retailers are already experimenting with interactive screens in-store to deliver personalized recommendations, “virtual try-on” options, or an “endless aisle.” The “5th screen” space will not likely be limited to just touch screen kiosks, but will need to include augmented reality to show off inventory that may not physically be in the store, recommend products that may best fit personal style and body type, or provide basic way-finding through a store.
Think 360°. Forget marketing matching luggage. Or specialty silos. We’ll be challenged to design campaigns that work across multiple platforms in a way that truly leverages the strengths of each channel. Those who master “multiplex marketing” that encourages iPad/tablet use while watching TV (or other streaming video), feeds off social interaction, and contains mobile elements that users can activate via screens outdoors or in retail will be the ones who capture the ADD attention of Gen C. In addition, Gen C uses technology as a tool to explore its desires, wants, and needs, so as marketers we need to be there and not just with a traditional search strategy. A move to a 360° perspective also means a move away from the traditional “pulse” campaign approach to the philosophy of being “always-on”.
Keep in mind this is a generation with an expectation of immediate interactivity; flat TV ads will be lost on them. Use all the marketing channels and hooks at your disposal — multiple screens, mobile, social, location-based — to capture and allow Gen C to participate as well as share. Which leads to the next point …
Put their creativity to work for you. Gen C’ers are often adept at making and editing their own video before they are even out of middle school. By the time they become adults, Forrester’s famous Social Technographics Ladder will be turned on its head. Gen C thrives on creative expression and the feedback it generates. No topic or concept is too personal for Gen C to explore. Figure out how to harness this creative energy in a way that values and respects this young talent. Create the right parameters, then put them in the driver’s seat. The opportunity will drive greater interest and participation than traditional “lean back” marketing.