Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Rules of Marketing in an Unruly Society

It's late (approaching midnight), it's Tuesday (a school night), and mom is standing outside the Game Stop store with her 12-year-old son to drop $60 on Halo Reach, a new video game that is rated "M" for mature audiences.

If that doesn't say I love you, what does?

Man, when I was a kid... never mind, I really don't want to go there. Nor do I wish to disparage the video gaming industry, nor do I wish to give parents a bad rap for spoiling their kids.

But it did make me wonder about the changing role of marketing in the new dynamic of the "family" of the 21st century. Let's face it, the shame and disgrace of divorce and out-of-wedlock childbirth came and went about two decades ago.

Kids are growing up today in a multitude of family configurations that defy description or understanding, let alone the type of stereotyping that marketing relies on to sell ideas and products.

Try telling a kid today that "this ain't your grandma's car." First of all, which grandma are you talking about, my mom's mom or my step-mom's mom or my dad's mom or my step-dad's mom or my new step-dad's dad's second wife? Secondly, one grandma is still in her 40s and has a kid that is younger than me, while my other five grandmas are in their 50s, 60s and 70s. Thirdly, two of my grandmas live in Ohio, one lives in Las Vegas, one lives in Florida and the other one is constantly on the move.

I don't think there are enough psychologists or researchers to keep up with this situation. But as my dad used to say (I only had one dad), "If there's money to be made, someone will figure out a way."

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