ISSUE NO. 70 10/31/12

Forget email -- the best way to reach teens and twenty-somethings is through text messages. Not only are teens and young adults five times more likely to open a text then an email, their response times are nearly instantaneous, according to James Citron, the founder and chief executive of Mogreet Inc. It generally takes between 6 and 12 hours for someone to open an email, but people respond to texts within one to three minutes. Also, people are more likely to forward a marketing text to a friend than an email. However, there is one drawback. Since it's illegal for companies to buy mobile phone lists, consumers must opt-in to receive texts from brands.

The quick response rate of texts allows marketers to make very specific, timely offers that can only be redeemed within a narrow set of parameters. For example, youth clothing retailer Charlotte Russe recently sent out a late-afternoon "Happy Hour" alert that offered all corsets on sale for $15; for 3 hours only. Another initiative from Charlotte Russe featured a text message and video of a handsome young man who promises shoppers who've opted in, "I'll give you the moon. And a $5 shopping pass. Anything to win your heart." Paul Hollowell, Charlotte Russe's director of marketing, didn't share the offer's actual redemption rate but did share with the Wall Street Journal that, "The company's database grew by 33% in one weekend." Hollowell did note that, "Participation rates are dramatically higher for text messaging than email."
Other brands that are reaching out to the youth market include Bloomingdales, which promotes its wedding registry and certain brands using texts, and the fast food chain Jack in the Box, which sends texts from its mascot to the "Secret Society of Cool People."

The use of texting must be targeted to the right audience but, if done well, can be truly revolutionary. The idea that promotions can be launched and played out within a matter of hours is intriguing. Offers can be sent out and if they don't have the impact the brand was looking for, new offers could be fashioned and sent out. Beyond the ability to react quickly and tailor offers, the bottom line is this demographic is used to extremely responsive relationships characterized by rapid-fire communication. If a brand or retailer finds a way to present offers that mimic how teens and young adults communicate with each other, they are that much more likely to build lasting loyalty.

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"Teen Stores Try Texts as Gr8 Nu Way to Reach Out," The Wall Street Journal, 8/1/12

mobile advertising, teens, text messages, tweens

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