Brands as Buddies

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

By Lauren McGehee

Although loneliness is traditionally attributed to the elderly, younger generations who are increasingly choosing singledom or relocating for today’s more fluid jobs may feel it too.

And while we're more connected than ever before, social media may actually be exacerbating the problem of feeling alone.

Brands around the globe are stepping into the role of matchmaker to help strangers strike up a conversation, turn venues and events into places of connection, or bring people together based on shared needs.

Coca-Cola wanted to help freshman arriving at college strike up a conversation. Applying their brand promise of happiness and sharing to their actual packaging, they invented a bottle cap that can only be opened with the help of another person. Friendly Twist offered a unique ice breaker for students to bond on the first day of classes.

Rather than sit alone in a hotel room, Marriott wanted to help business travelers enjoy their experience more. They teamed up with MIT to develop Six Degrees , an app that connects guests based on their background and interests. An added bonus for the hotel is that they learn more about their guests and can invest in services that guests are more likely to use. For example, if the data shows that a current group of guests are avid runners, the hotel can schedule a running group for the next morning.

1000 cooker

Beyond just connecting for a chat, practical brands can develop platforms to connect people based on mutually fulfilling needs. For example, French brand 1000Cooker – which has the tagline "Meet the food next door" – is a platform that connects people who don't have time to cook a homemade meal with those who can cook for them.

Although not even out for a full week, the Pokémon Go craze is reportedly helping people's mental health . (In case you have been under a rock, this mobile game app uses a person's smartphone camera and GPS to place Pokémon characters in the real world in proximity to the player. Players explore neighborhoods to hunt for and capture Pokémon.) Pokémon Go is motivating people to get outside, exercise, and talk to others, all of which helps greatly with depression and other mental health problems.

Meaningful and fun real-life connections can start with screens. Consider targeting consumers with approaches that bring them together both electronically and in person. Use screens to innovatively match people based on shared interests or needs, and then bring them together to meet face to face.

Whether your brand is a product, service, location, or a nostalgic augmented reality game sweeping the globe, all can offer innovative ways to bring people together. If you'd like to discuss designing a customer experience to connect people, you can contact us here and arrange a time to talk.

About the author

As one of the bigger brains at Traction, Lauren makes sure that everything we do has a damn good reason to exist. As the champion for the consumer, she steers our discovery and research to insure that we have relevant insights into our audiences’ behavior and desires. When she’s not making our team better, she is learning about the world through travel, food, books, art, and chasing her very fast dog, Greg.

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