Digital marketing: Fisher-Price, the future and first hugs

Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Stride to Ride Puppy
The relationship between parents and their children cannot be countenanced. From that initial moment when you first hold them in your arms, to the time they arrive home having ‘missed’ the last bus, stinking of blue WKD, it’s safe to say that in the vast majority of cases biological guardians would do anything and, after a few stern words, forgive (almost) anything, such is the love that exists for their offspring.
As such it’s no surprise to hear that, according to a leading baby care and toy retailer, parents- and mothers in particular- are “hyper-active online prenatally”, and during the first year of their baby’s life, keen to discover, learn and understand what’s happening, what’s in store, and the best ways to ensure their newborn has the greatest chances of growing up rounded, healthy and happy.
The statement, from Lisa Mancuso, senior vice president of Fisher-Price global marketing for the firm’s baby business, was made as the company unveiled plans to use the Internet of Things as a means of better targeting its core customer base with digital marketing. Location-based advertising and beacons are, apparently, top priorities for the retailer, and the idea is to increase the level of information for parents, in turn boosting the potential for them to make impulse buys.
It all sounds impressive, and from a technical perspective the whole location-based concept, and the idea of a ‘connected everything’ are certainly signs we’re fast approaching some form of the future movies like Minority Report dreamt up (not least in terms of police states, although that’s a different article altogether, and we’re yet to see those crazy vertical-drive cars appear on the streets of Manchester). However, as with anything of this nature in marketing, there will always be a fine line between providing a better offering and irritating people.
Interestingly (or not, depending on what mood you’re in), this news broke at the same time Facebook confirmed new changes to its News Feed algorithm, designed to reduce the number of irrelevant or spam messages, and notify users when a story has been referenced as untrue by a significant number of other users. Hopefully a handy amendment that will see us less likely to start crying or launch into a seething rage at the sight of another annoying post, whilst this seems completely irrelevant in the context of Fisher-Price, hold your judgemental horses for a second.
Realistically, Facebook would not have made the News Feed alterations if it weren’t for the perceived ‘abuse’ of its News Feed systems by users, including companies. That ‘abuse’, as we dramatically term it for the sake of this blog, is really abuse in the eye of the beholder. There are strict(ish) rules and regulations dictating what can and can’t be done when marketing on Facebook, but even with those in place, and even when those are adhered to, firms fall foul of the public because they annoy them.
The point being that what Fisher-Price and every other firm considering a digital overhaul need to think about is where the line will be drawn for their customers. It’s all well and good having the ability to offer a potential customer a great deal when they pass by the entrance to your store, or are in a certain locale, but how frequently do they want to be targeted, and how often do they want to check their smartphone for notifications if, for example, they live next door to a store, and walk passed it every day. Not least whilst carrying a small child or pushing them around in a pram.
Food for thought for sure, this is by no means saying these idea are bad; negativity only emerges if such ideas are rolled out poorly. Needless to say, though, if Fisher-Price is going to continue with concepts as good as the stunning, tear-jerking video below- created to bolster the company’s social media engagement- then the future is looking fittingly bright for a firm that specialises in keeping wide-eyed infants enthused.