Brands Cannot Be Silent and Ignore Injustice

While some brands may be reluctant to enter political discussions, the state of race, racial violence, and police brutality in America is more than politics. And your consumers and employees care deeply about combating violence and racism.

Following the horrific death of George Floyd, which sparked protests not only in the U.S. but around the world, countless influencers and celebrities spoke out across social media and online platforms to fight racism and support the Black Lives Matter movement.

While some brands may be reluctant to enter political discussions, the state of race, racial violence, and police brutality in America is more than politics. And your consumers and employees care deeply about combating violence and racism.

One brand that continues to demonstrate bravery when it comes to addressing race relations is Nike, who released a new ad across its digital channels. The ad featured plain white text over a black screen stating:

For once, don’t do it.

Don’t pretend there’s not a problem in America.

Don’t turn your back on racism.

Don’t accept innocent lives being taken from us.

Don’t make any more excuses.

Don’t think this doesn’t affect you.

Don’t sit back and be silent.

Don’t think you can’t be part of the change.

Let’s all be part of the change.

Nike doesn’t shy away from taking a stand on issues of race, evident from their Colin Kaepernick ad in Sept. 2018. There were many other brands that made statements on social media in response to the tragedy, including the NFL, Netflix, and Ben & Jerry’s, to name a few. Following its original May 30 post, Netflix shared the following on June 10, letting followers know of its intention to highlight Black storytelling:

There also have been brands that have pledged significant donations to related organizations and initiatives, including Warby Parker and Peloton.

Standing up and addressing societal issues isn’t a new concept in marketing. Marketing leaders have been talking about and advising brands to be brave and bold for years. But there are still some brands too hesitant to speak out and take action. Why?

You don’t need significant resources to communicate your support and condolences, but you must be genuine and authentic in however you share your message. Accept that you can’t please everyone and there will be critics, but sharing your support and values is important. When speaking out about social issues, consider the following:

  • Talk to your employees: Use internal channels to reach employees and initiate a two-way conversation.
  • Think about the appropriate channels: Social media can be an ideal place to join the dialogue, but you may have a good reason to email your subscribers.

And where it’s possible, find ways to align with a cause that complements your brand’s values and focuses on supporting racial and social justice.

Consumers and employees want to know that brands are paying attention and will not tolerate inequality, violence, and prejudice. Now is the time to make a statement and help facilitate change.

COVID-19’s Impact on Millennial and Gen Z Media Habits — And How Marketers Should Pivot

Within a very short period, the way Millennials and Gen Zs buy products and consume media also has changed dramatically. And while many of these shifts — such as the changes to their media habits — can be attributed to the global pandemic, some of them may be here to stay.

Depending on their age and stage of life, the nation’s two youngest generations are getting a first taste of what it’s like to be a remote worker, home-schooling parent, or web-only shopper. Within a very short period, the way Millennials and Gen Zs buy products and consume media also has changed dramatically. And while many of these shifts — such as the changes to their media habits — can be attributed to the global pandemic, some of them may be here to stay.

“When U.S. advertisers pulled back spending dramatically in March, one of the earliest noticeable effects on the display ad market was falling CPMs (the price of 1,000 advertisement impressions on a single webpage),” eMarketer reports. Concurrently, marketers were lowering their demand for ads and consumers were spending more time on social and traditional media properties, thus increasing the supply of impressions.

“Where we’re getting the demand right now is from people who are driving sort of more online conversions, direct response, so it’s not like we’re seeing a shift of reach and frequency dollars to us,” Facebook’s Dave Wehner said in an April earnings call. “I think what we’re seeing is people who are driving the kind of direct response actions taking advantage of low prices.”

Feeling the Impact

With COVID-19 affecting all facets of everyday life, it’s no surprise that marketing is also seeing the dramatic impacts of the pandemic. And while some of the changes simply solidify what was already happening in the market, COVID is definitely adding more fuel to the fire. For example, TikTok has become a household term in a world where just a few months ago the typical parent was unfamiliar with the short-form mobile video platform — a platform that  has become a viable channel for reaching younger consumers. The youngest Gen Zs are likely getting as much socialization as possible on platforms like TikTok and Snapchat, all while binging on Netflix as they wait out the COVID-19 threat and state shutdowns.

The crisis is going to change consumers across all age groups, and no one knows for certain what the total impact will be. What we do know is that the shifts are already starting to happen, as evidenced by the TikTok videos featuring parents and their children dancing together, and the fact that Instagram Stories usage is up 15% since the outbreak. These and other platforms are keeping people connected, and they’re also presenting new opportunities for marketers that need ways to reach their youngest consumers.

TikTok added over 12 million U.S. unique visitors in March, reaching 52.2 million, according to eMarketer. “TikTok has been on a growth spurt for several months, even before the pandemic,” the firm points out, adding that as of October 2019, TikTok’s app and websites had 27 million unique visitors, with the app alone accounting for 18.6 million. “But the month-to-month growth between February and March was particularly notable in comparison with previous monthly gains.”

What Are Gen Z and Millennials Up To?

In surveying Gen Z about its routines, media habits, and lives during the viral outbreak, Brainly found that most are turning to social media to pass the time and stay connected, with Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, and Facebook getting the highest marks from this generation.

Here are other important, COVID-related trends that Hawthorne Advertising has been tracking internally:

  • In terms of social media, Millennials are gravitating toward Instagram and Reddit.
  • There’s also been a big uptick in Twitch usage over the last two months, with live performers among the most active participants on that platform.
  • More Millennials are using YouTube as an information source during the pandemic.
  • Zoom has emerged as the videoconferencing platform of choice for Millennials.
  • Services like Netflix and Amazon Prime are popular “binge” targets for both Gen Zs and Millennials.
  • Fans of Instagram, TikTok, Hulu, and the Amazon Firestick, Gen Zs are receptive to pre-roll ads and other targeted advertising approaches on these platforms.
  • Gen Zs are also using GoToMeeting, Zoom, Houseparty, Facebook Messenger, and FaceTime to stay in touch with friends and family during this period.

In assessing Gen Z and Millennials’ post-quarantine media habits and content consumption, YPulse says Netflix will be their must-watch TV platform of choice, but notes that social media content could begin cannibalizing the time these younger generations spend on streaming services.

“While streaming services are reporting massive numbers of new subscribers, our data indicates that the real winner of quarantine viewing is social media,” YPulse reports, noting that a recent survey found that 48% of 13 to 39-year-olds are watching more videos on social media during quarantine, and 40% are now watching videos weekly or more on Instagram (compared to 34% in November 2019).

Get Ready to Turn on the Dime

For marketers who are trying to wrap their arms around these shifts, the best strategy is to embrace the changes and take careful note of their pace of acceleration.

Understand that when we emerge from this crisis — whenever that occurs — you’re not going to be operating in the same world that was put on pause in early-2020. Marketers also need to consider more targeted and customized messaging, as well as dynamic creative optimization, to maximize the engagement with Millennials and Gen Z audiences.

Consider this: In a recent DoSomething survey, 75% of Gen Zs said the top action they wanted to see from brands was ensuring employee and consumer safety, with 73% wanting brands to protect their employees financially. Brands that share positive messages on social media while failing to support their staff are being noticed, Vogue Business reports. “If you’re not authentic, Gen Zs will be the first to raise a red flag. If you are trying to take advantage of the moment, you will lose them so fast.”

Educate yourself on these changes, test out some new strategies, and strap yourself in. It’s going to be a rollercoaster ride filled with both challenges and opportunities, the latter of which will be most available to the companies that stay flexible and fluid enough to turn on a dime right along with their target audiences.

WWTT? Netflix to Publish a Print Magazine

It was announced earlier this week that Netflix — the media streaming giant that now also produces original programing — is getting into the print business. Sort of. Ahead of the Emmys, Netflix is planning on producing a 100-page print magazine to promote its original programming and stars, according to Bloomberg News.

Good morning marketers! It was announced earlier this week that Netflix — the media streaming giant that now also produces original programing — is getting into the print business. Sort of. Ahead of the Emmys, Netflix is planning on producing a 100-page print magazine to promote its original programming and stars, according to Bloomberg News.

While Netflix has neither confirmed nor denied this news, the Bloomberg News article shared the following from an email from the company:

“In preparation for a groundbreaking year in film and television, Netflix has gathered some of the most talented and sought after writers and photographers, thinkers and creatives, to make the inaugural issue of Wide, the Netflix print journal.”

While you won’t find Wide — that’s the publication’s working title — on any newsstand, it will be distributed to “industry players” in June, which is when members of the television academy vote on Emmy nominations (with the awards show taking place in September). Talk about being in the right place at the right time.

There is also a mention that the streaming service’s print magazine would be available at the variety of events it hosts. It’s clear that Netflix is hungry for recognition of its studio’s creative works, which in the last year produced approximately 700 programs, ranging from movies like Roma to series such as Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and more.

Now this isn’t the first time an online entity dipped its toes into print. Last year I received a couple of complimentary copies of Airbnb’s print magazine, which you can subscribe to for $18/6 issues. I was surprised when I found it in my mailbox, but I took the time to flip through the piece.

According to Airbnb’s website, aside from the subscription, it also began sending copies of the magazine to its hosts earlier in 2019 … the perfect item to leave out on the coffee table for your guests to remind them that, yes, they’re staying in an Airbnb I suppose. That said, I’m probably more likely to check out the online magazine instead, since I do a lot of my travel reading and planning online.

Luggage company Away created Here Magazine after it noticed that customers were calling customer service looking for travel tips. According to an AdWeek article, the publication is included in every piece of luggage Away sells, standalone issues can be purchased, and there’s an e-newsletter featuring some stories (which is what I’m subscribed to).

Netflix’s decision to put time and money into producing a print magazine to highlight its accomplishments ahead of the Emmy’s tells me this: To Netflix, there is prestige in print. Where some companies, such as Airbnb and Away may see their print publications as a value-add to their products and services, it seems like Netflix feels that Wide is a channel to showcase its creative powerhouse abilities. I mean, you don’t see other Hollywood studios doing that.

But my question is this: Will it be worth it in the end — will Wide help Netflix bring home Emmys in September?

Marketers, what do you think? Tell me in the comments below, and have a great weekend!

 

Why Net Neutrality Is a Marketing Issue

The Net may soon have gate keepers, a price tag or a throttle — and that’s something we should all be concerned about. Marketers, in particular, should be paying attention and throwing their support behind Net Neutrality as both a concept and as a set of regulations because without those safeguards the critical connection points to consumers may be threatened.

“Rusty Lock” Creative Commons license | Credit: Flickr by webhamster

The Net may soon have gate keepers, a price tag or a throttle — and that’s something we should all be concerned about. Marketers, in particular, should be paying attention and throwing their support behind Net Neutrality as both a concept and as a set of regulations because without those safeguards the critical connection points to consumers may be threatened.

New online business models and innovations have thrived with the freedom of equal access officially protected first by the FCC in 2010 with the passage of the Open Internet Order. Many challenges and debates later, this order was expanded in 2015 in an effort to assure a level playing field.

The current administration’s FCC Chair, Ajit Pai, hopes to dismantle the regulations that allow smaller players to compete with huge ISPs like Comcast or Verizon that wield lobbying power and have deep, deep pockets and a big stake in the production and delivery of online content. This could happen before the year end and opens the door to scenarios that include the big ISPs blocking select content, slowing or speeding up select content or instituting pay walls for certain content.

It is easy to see how that may discourage access and innovation for new or smaller players or new offerings as the big power players will be free to throw obstacles in the path of contenders.

Especially now as video becomes ubiquitous as a critical marketing tactic and consumers use increasing bandwidth to stream content, this question needs to be asked: Will video advertising (in particular pre-roll) suffer from a tiered distribution model that forces some, but not all, to pay a premium to deliver that content? Will those consumers consigned to the slow lane stick around to see ads? Marketers may be forced to factor in delivery speed, access and other cost and optimization factors such that the ROI equations will differ based on who you are. This removes meritocracy and weights success not by the quality of your message or product/service but on whether you have the power to shift the odds in your favor.

To be fair, the world is not fair now. Large players already have advantages in cash, scale and access, but the removal of Net Neutrality would fundamentally weaken the very strengths that gave us so many innovations from Internet startups in the past two decades. It’s not a political issue, according to a variety of recent polls as citizens in both major parties overwhelmingly support Net Neutrality. It’s a potential abuse of power issue. Simple and scary.

Opponents of an Internet with fair and equal access cite a distaste for regulations and government interference; some even call it a solution in search of a problem. But the potential for abuse is huge and the impact will reverberate in our economy for decades if we allow power to corrupt the models that drive our fastest growing and most globally influential industries here in the US.

The likely result of the dismantling of the protections currently in place will be higher marketing costs, reduced access to consumers, diminished targeting and data capabilities and declining novelty in online ad offerings and services. That’s not the marketing advances we hope and work for. We can expect the void to be filled by other countries not operating under these adverse conditions for another blow to our global and economic position.

What to do, what to do? “The Internet-Wide Day of Action” online protest took place on July 12 this year and was broadly supported by nearly every company in the Internet game including Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, Yelp, Dropbox, Netflix, reddit and many others. But you don’t have to be a company to fight for equal access. Make your voice heard in online venues, on your website and with your representatives, sign the petition here at battleforthenet.com, or visit savetheinternet.com for more ideas.

How are you going to fight for equal access?

Machine Learning: More Common Than You Think

There’s a lot of buzz lately about machine learning. In many ways, it’s transforming the consumer experience and improving the products and operations of many companies. Plus, it’s not just for data analysts — machine learning has real benefits in the lives of the average consumer.

[Today, Sue is hosting Sanjay Sidhwani, SVP of Advanced Analytics for Synchrony Financial, as a guest blogger for The Consumer Connection.]

There’s a lot of buzz lately about machine learning. In many ways, it’s transforming the consumer experience and improving the products and operations of many companies. Plus, it’s not just for data analysts — machine learning has real benefits in the lives of the average consumer.

Ever wonder how Netflix serves up recommendations for the next movie or how your smartphone knows that you will be driving to work on Monday morning? Those are both examples of machine learning.

How is machine learning different from ordinary analytics? With traditional methods, an analyst defines the objective and looks for correlations between the objective and a defined set of data inputs. If new data comes in, the analyst needs to rerun the analysis and create new correlations and a new algorithm. This can take a while.

Machine learning is more efficient because it automatically takes new data inputs and adjusts, or “learns,” without manual intervention. So, the impact is immediate. How is it learning? The behavior drives the operation, not the programmers. Netflix recommendations are a good example. Once you watch a program or a movie, the next set of recommendations are created automatically without adjustments from an analyst.

Let’s take another example. Say you are considering buying a used car. What’s a fair price? Many factors determine this, such as age of car, miles driven, model and make. With enough data, we can infer the relationship between these factors and the price. This relationship can be linear, where the attributes have an additive effect (e.g., miles driven). But often the relationship is not linear. A car’s age, for instance, has a geometric effect on price (15 percent lower each year). In machine learning, the nature of these relationships doesn’t have to be a total guess. The programs automatically adjust these inputs and give us a fair price.

Machine learning can also help companies market offers more efficiently. One way is pattern recognition. There are patterns in customer buying behavior, for instance. Machine learning algorithms can predict the next likely item to be bought, helping a brand decide which customer should be targeted with what offer, better addressing their needs and wants and eliminating wasteful and costly marketing.

The challenge for companies is how to implement their learnings. What to do with the prediction — offer a discount? Display on the website? Send an email? The key to making the data impactful is “closing the loop” and refreshing the learnings so the data leads to actual behavior.

There is a budding community of data scientists and analysts who are exploring machine learning techniques. I recently attended a hackathon on Artificial Intelligence in our Innovation Station, a technology hub in our Chicago office. Most of the teams’ ideas used machine learning techniques combined with new types of data, such as facial recognition of an applicant’s LinkedIn picture to authenticate digital credit card applications or building a neural network chatbot that provides personalized service and account analytics.

The possibilities for marketers are exciting and endless. As we learn more about the technology, the real-world applications are likely to grow and provide even more value to brands and consumers alike.

Note: The views expressed in this blog are those of the blogger and not necessarily of Synchrony Financial.

Like a Bolton From the Blue: A Rebrand Success Story

Sometimes you see a rebrand revealed that just makes you go “!!!!!!!!!!” in a good way. Like, “Ahhh yes I see what they were going for here and it’s working for me.” Early 2017 has kicked off with one of the best rebrand jobs I could imagine. The one … the only … Michael Bolton.

Sometimes you see a rebrand revealed that just makes you go “!!!!!!!!!!” in a good way. Like, “Ahhh yes I see what they were going for here and it’s working for me.” All the time, resources, programming, designing, blood sweat and tears that go into a full rebrand are, of course, worth it in the end when your brand has the image, message, and audience it needs for lasting success.

I’m bringing this up because early 2017 has kicked off with one of the best rebrand jobs I could imagine, and since a rebrand is a marketing topic, I could use it as an excuse to talk about the one … the only …

Michael Bolton.

bolton1

Is it the flowing locks, the piercing eyes, the sultry vocals, the full combo? Something about this guy cast a spell over millions of the so-inclined population in the 80s and early 90s, resulting in 75 million-plus record sales and multiple Grammy awards. But as for his staying power with his fans’ children  … well, my earliest memory of the Bolt is “that weird looking guy in the love songs commercial that comes on during Doug.” A few years later, he was upgraded to “the guy who sings the Hercules song.”

I think it’s safe to say the same traits that made him a heartthrob in his heyday were a recipe for the kids of his fans to brand him tragically uncool. So how’d he end up front and center of Netflix release, Michael Bolton’s Big, Sexy Valentine’s Day Special, landing rave reviews and waves of young adult viewers?

From my humble perspective, Bolton (or whoever manages Bolton’s publicity and marketing, at least) succeeded where so many fail: They tapped into the specific sense of humor of the younger demographic, and they used it to get in on the joke rather than be the butt of it.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not so into blanket “market to millennials” statements, but if there’s one generalization I feel pretty comfortable making, it’s this. The millennial sense of humor has three important components: irony, self-awareness and meme-ability. (This third one is a bit abstract, I know, it’s the sort of thing you just know when you encounter it.) Michael Bolton’s return to the mainstream is steeped in all three, in all the best of ways.

14watching-master768Bolton’s arrival in the millennial conscience, at least as “cool” or “funny,” can probably be traced back to a running joke in the 1999 cult classic Office Space. A character in the movie shares his name with the 80s superstar, and has to deal with constant “Are you related to…?” and “Are you a fan of…?” questions throughout the course of the movie and, presumably, his life. From there, the seed was planted.

It wasn’t until 12 years later, in 2011, that comedy trio Lonely Island really made that seed bloom by booking Bolton for a single and accompanying music video. In Jack Sparrow, the trio records what sounds like a fairly typical mainstream rap track, until Michael Bolton, now rocking a short ‘do, continues to “interrupt” with a dramatic, power ballad hook telling the story of the popular Pirates of the Caribbean character. And it’s a heckin jam. As of the time I’m writing this post, the video has 163 million views.

From there, Michael Bolton has successfully become cool to the kids. Fast forward to 2017, and they’ve taken that idea and run the whole nine yards with it. I won’t get into the absurd but hilarious (and raunchy) plot of the Netflix special, but suffice it to say, Michael must harness the power of his … ahem … mood-making music to save Christmas.

It’s the perfect way to combine his cheesy, saccharine romance image of the past with the ridiculous, campy-yet-clever style of today’s comedic landscape. At some point, he faces off with saxophonist Kenny G (played by Andy Samberg) while the real Kenny G plays a janitor.

The concept itself might have been enough to get people intrigued, but Netflix had some seriously killer marketing to go with it, like these amazing promotional videos they tweeted last week. (Warning, they’re PG-13.)

In one more win for the Make Bolton Cool Again publicity team, last week Vanity Fair released an incredible video in which Michael Bolton goes undercover as a barista at a local coffee shop, singing the customers’ names and orders. It’s pretty much the best four minutes of my life. “The Bolts served us,” one 20-something hipster tells the camera in excitement. If that’s not proof of winning over a new generation, I don’t know what is.

He knows he’s kinda lame, he knows his whole shtick back in the day was first-dance-wedding-playlist-music, and he knows no one can deny he’s got pipes. All it takes his his willingness to play up all these facts to the fullest, and BAM, he’s got himself a whole new audience. I have so much respect for every creative mind involved in this endeavor.

The Bolts even inspired our millennial-run marketing and events department here at Target Marketing to add a new feature to our corner of the office. Starring Michael Bolton, and featuring some random other Boltons, I present to you….

img_9775

… The Bolton Board. 

Happy (week after) Valentine’s Day!

Netflix Knows Toys Are Marketing, Too

Earlier this month, Netflix — the streaming media behemoth — began looking for someone to make toys. Yes, we’re talking action figures here. Perhaps some fan-service clothing like backpacks and T-shirts. Maybe even a novelty flamethrower or two …

Earlier this month, Netflix — the streaming media behemoth — began looking for someone to make toys.

Yes, we’re talking action figures here. Perhaps some fan-service clothing like backpacks and T-shirts. Maybe even a novelty flamethrower or two …

View post on imgur.com

“Merchandising! Merchandising! Where the real money from the movie is made …”
— The Great and Wise Yogurt, “Spaceballs”

But what stood out to me more than the merchandising angle — because clearly the world has waited too long for a talking Frank Underwood bust — was what Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos gave as the real goal for this hire: Marketing.

“We don’t want to make any shows to sell toys,” says Sarandos (although they have rebooted Voltron, which was originally made to sell toys). “What’s really important is there’s a marketing component that comes with [the toys] … Kids carrying the backpack sells the show.”

This isn’t a hard concept to extrapolate into current marketing metaphors. The Kids wearing the backpacks are customer advocates, their friends are new prospects (and they trust that kid’s word WAY more than yours) and the backpack … Well the backpack is a way for that advocate to play with your brand.

What ways, what toys, do you offer your advocates to play with your brand?

I think of this as bringing people into your orbit. These customers and fans may be very positively inclined to you, but unless they have some way to express that, something to play with, it’s wasted. They fly by and drift off into space. But if you catch those folks with something that makes them stick around, your galaxy of influencers grows.

There are a lot of ways to engage these folks by giving them a voice on social media, putting on events, etc. But those are things you do for them to be a part of.

What can you offer that these advocates can take away and play with themselves?

Now, if you have an action-figure-worthy character, by all means, give it a polyethylene kung fu grip and tell your fans how to get one.

Beyond that, here are a few other ideas:

Content

Your content marketing can be a type of toy. If the content is really interesting to your target audience, they share it, talk about it, make their own content expanding it, etc.

If that’s the way you’re going, consider offering assets these advocates can use in their content. If you provide brand images, themes, logos, presentation decks and the like for your advocates to use to build their own websites and content, that’s a whole chest of toys.

Wearables, Accessories and Swag

Clothing and gadget accessories are another way to let fans play. You may even already have some of these as booth swag for you events marketing. Is there a way for your fans to get them without jumping through hoops? Offer a way to get them through your website or social media properties. If an advocate wants something you were giving away anyway, why not enable that?

Yes, enable the fandom.

Tools

Speaking of enabling, many products and services have some kind of tools that can help in their use. Whether those tools are actual hammers and screwdrivers, or more conceptual tools like planners, worksheets or design templates, that’s a great kind of toy to offer your advocates. These can be as simple as pdfs, or as complicated as augmented reality apps that put your products in their world.

Two notes on offering tools:

  1. The ideal tool creates something the advocate can share. Your goal isn’t just to give them a hammer, it’s to get them to use the hammer and show it to other potential advocates.
  2. Don’t let your toymaker compete with a real toolmaker. Car enthusiasts love showing off their favorite brands, but no serious gear head is buying a Porsche ratchet. Real tools come from Snap-on, Craftsman and other high-quality toolmakers. In this case, your tools could make your advocates look dumb. That’s why car makers focus on clothing, accessories and actual toys.

So take a lesson from Netflix, and think about what a toymaker cold do for your brand. You may not need to hire someone just for the role, but spending some time thinking about it could unlock great advocate marketing opportunities.

Netflix Causes Customer Freakout

Let’s cut to the chase: Why hasn’t Netflix recently informed me, and its 75 million other subscribers, that there’s a price increase on the horizon?

Netflix Binge Watch memeI “cut” the cable cord back in 2010 and have relied heavily on streaming video to get my TV fix, with Netflix being my main squeeze since 2007. And who can beat $7.99/month, especially when compared to most people’s cable bill?

But I’m not here to profess my deep love for all things Netflix … instead, I want to ask this question:

Why hasn’t Netflix recently informed me, and its 75 million other subscribers, that there’s a price increase on the horizon?

There’s plenty of coverage on the subject of the price increase on Twitter:

Netflix tweetsBut what finally did it for me was the Marie Claire e-newsletter I received yesterday.

Marie Claire e-newsletter with Netflix articleNothing against Marie Claire, because I love those #LadyBoss slideshows, but this should not be my news source. Why haven’t I received ANY emails from Netflix about the increase? I searched through my inbox to see if there had been any, and I can’t find a single one.

Google the phrase “Netflix prices going up,” and you’ll receive 39 million results, with top hits coming from USA Today, ABC News, Huffington Post, Business Insider, but nothing from Netflix. I checked out the top story, from USA Today, which shed a bit more light:

This isn’t a new price hike for Netflix. Two years ago, the company announced it would raise the price of its standard plan to $9.99. At the time of the announcement in May 2014, Netflix said existing customers could maintain the older $7.99 price for two years, which is expected to expire this May.

Okay, so Netflix announced the increase in 2014 … but it’s 2016. Why not send an update?

Netflix could have cast the increase — which is $1 to $2, depending on if you were a new or existing member when the hike was unveiled — as something completely positive.

Netflix: Do you like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt?

Me: Uh … I love it.

Netflix: Great! Well there’s a second season coming out April 15, not to mention Season 4 of OITNB in June, Gilmore Girls in the Fall and a lot more awesome stuff! And because we’re focused on creating fantastic original shows, we’ve found we need to increase the monthly subscription fee.

Honestly … Netflix would have had me at “second season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” Take my money, and give me more music videos starring Titus. But that hasn’t happened.

Instead, Netflix seems to be sitting back and letting everyone else cover the price increase. After doing some googling I found this Engadget article from Jan. 2016. Within the article, I came across the 4Q letter to shareholders announcing the increase.

Protip: Your customers, subscribers, readers should not have to google to find out about necessary information, like a price increase.

The reality: Most won’t. Instead, they’ll take to social media to express just how annoyed they are.

Netflix dropped the ball, and there’s a good chance some subscribers will cancel. Or, they’ll opt to downgrade the service to SD — instead of HD — and only have the capability of streaming to once device at a time for the lower price of $7.99.

Troll the Respawn JeremyFor me, this isn’t about the increase. It’s about Netflix’s poor handling of its customers and lack of messaging.

If Netflix can email me about a new show it just added, it can email me about a potential price increase. Letting the media run with this story — and have a fun time with the headlines — is just bad marketing.