Marketing in the Making

Marketing; Thoughts and Questions

What is “Cool”?

When trying to decide how to best market a certain product or service to a group of people, one question that I imagine would come up pretty often is “what is cool?”  The answer to this question can either make or brake the possible success of a campaign.

Every group has a different opinion on what is cool so answering this questions gets to be difficult to pinpoint.  What deems something cool?  When I was in a business class in high school, I remember watching a PBS Frontline documentary entitled The Merchants of Cool which discussed just that.  The focus was on the teen generation, which seems to be the hardest to understand.  Companies such as the one featured, Look-Look make this research their main service.  Although the focus of this documentary was primarily on teens, the search for what is cool comes up in every generation, race, gender and group that a company would like to market to.

How do companies discover what is “cool”?

Market research seems to be the most popular method.  This includes not only surveys and focus groups, but shop-a-longs, one-on-one interviews and observation, to say the least.  From this, countless companies are able to learn how to best get on the “inside” with their market.  But, I am pretty sure the best way is to be immersed in the group you are learning about and be one of the followers or even a leader of what is cool.

Social Media-“Cool”

What brought upon my idea for this post was a conversation I had with my uncle just recently.  We were talking about how Facebook is considered “cool” now yet Myspace, which used to be is no longer “cool”.  Why is that?  Yes, we have already talked about how Myspace turned into the place for pre-teens, pedophiles and musicians (thats all I hear when people discuss Myspace).  But, what does that mean for Facebook?  Isn’t Facebook headed down the same path?  Especially with pre-teens and now even adding the one thing that seems to put a damper on coolness…parents.  Why is Facebook still doing so well?  Are we all just waiting for the next thing to jump on?  How is Facebook still “cool” even with all this?  Or, am I wrong?  Is Facebook no longer “cool”?


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8 thoughts on “What is “Cool”?

  1. Jonathan on said:

    I think that facebook in many ways is heading down the road like myspace, ie what i said in the comment to your last post. But I think that its death will be slowed by its ubiquity. It is the only site that all of ones friends have an account with. There might be other services that manage the whole socializing/social media thing better, and are an evolutionary step from myspace to facebook and onward, but if nobody has an account with it than all of that doesn’t matter. How would one market a new competitor to facebook?

  2. That is a good point and an excellent question. I think a lot of that depends on the new competitor. Think about Chat Roulette. Omegle came out as a response in a hope to decrease the amount inappropriate pictures. And even after that, other sites like these have been forming to offer something that the others don’t. The new competitor to Facebook must have an excellent competitive advantage. The competitor will have to push what they do differently.

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  4. Uncle Asher on said:

    Great post. But don’t rule out Rupert Murdoch who owns Myspace. I still think he might turn it around – and Fox Business as well – just as Jobs turned around Apple. But maybe Apple was always cool, even when no one bought it!

  5. anncantrell on said:

    I do not think FB is cool anymore- it’s about 2 years past it’s prime in my humble opinion, but it is EVERYWHERE so it’s not going away anytime soon. Many of my friends might still have accounts, but never check them anymore. Meanwhile- I am VERY GRATEFUL for Facebook because it got me reconnected/ connected to Asher and through him, the rest of the Lopatin’s! Including you guys! Yeahhh!! I have a few blog topics for you though Annie- so call me to chat soon! Miss you!!! xoxo, Annie Lo

  6. jfrankiefrank on said:

    Annie! Just wanted to say I dig your blog. I am of the opinion that facebook isn’t cool. But neither is going to the bathroom. Are cellphones cool, especially the new ones with all the gadgets? And if they were, would it be cool to know how to use one? Is saying ‘no’ … ever cool? Is being smart, cool? To reach the cool status is to be a fad and to have a short life. Things that are an integral and lasting part of life aren’t cool, but are more importantly, important. I don’t think facebook was ever cool, and this is precisely what it has going for it.

  7. Newcastle Jobs, Thank you for the support!

    Thank you Asher! That’s a great point about Murdoch but I fear that the reputation Myspace has gotten may be too difficult to turn around. If they do find a way, I think it will be amazing to see what they do.

    Annie! Facebook certainly has lost their mojo and seems to desperately be trying to find it again. They need to find a way to reconnect with their key markets. Maybe targeted networks could work? Will definitely call you soon!!

    Josh, Thank you so much! I really like your comment about the label “cool” being a fad. It is so true! Oddly enough, a lot of fads are beginning to return, especially in fashion. You said Facebook was never cool, then what made it popular?

    Thank you all for your support!!

  8. jfrankiefrank on said:

    heyyy! Thanks for your response.

    Is cool (succumbing to a fad) a prerequisite for being popular? If I define popular as something that is bought into by many people, then I would say no. Fads come and go (and as you said, sometimes return again), but things that are important have a much stronger saying power. And things that are important are [in many cases] bought into regardless of whether they are cool or not. Some inventions are so revolutionary that they fundamentally change the way we live our lives– cell phones for example. To call them cool or not I think misses the point. It is literally becoming a challenge to function in a 1st world 21st century society without one. All the sacrifices that one might have to make in order to live a cell phone free life make the cell phone popular. (Let’s not get into the notion of addiction here.)

    Facebook might be reaching a similarly society-altering status. Facebook provides an effective and FREE way to communicate. It allows one to get to know someone without asking all of the difficult questions. Even universities are turning to facebook to communicate with students, to promote classes, etc. They aren’t doing this because it’s cool, but because it’s effective. Facebook is popular. It may or may not be cool. For me it’s not. But the coolness factor may actually be a mute point.

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