SCVNGR’s Hunt – The Importance of Inter-Brand Association

It is a well-known, if unfortunate fact that a product’s quality and usefulness does not necessarily guarantee it success.  Far more important for brand growth and awareness is market saturation, and for that, one of the best methods is integration with established products.  For example, Blu-Ray won against HD-DVD due largely to being packaged with the Playstation 3.  Early on, Twitter used the SXSW (South by Southwest) festival to triple its user base.  Almost a century ago, Thomas Burberry’s iconic ‘trench coat’ was issued to officers during World War One and afterwards became immensely popular as a civilian fashion item.  The point I make here is that the most successful products are the ones we see being used day-to-day, reinforcing their value in our minds.  Every brand dreams of such a solid cultural foothold.

Enter SCVNGR, an app-based service which combines GPS, check-ins, and community-created scavenger hunts, which is working with hundreds of colleges to create interactive campus experiences for students.  Orientation sessions include an introduction to SCVNGR and new students are encouraged to take part in university-created ‘treks’ or even make their own. They also partner up with sports teams and local businesses to promote customer interactivity.

The college-aged demographic has always been a driving force behind media technology and the advent of social media is no exception.  SCVNGR hopes to join the ranks of Facebook, Twitter, and Craigslist by providing maximum exposure to their largest potential user base.  By starting students on SCVNGR early, they will entrench the service within the social paradigm.
Plenty of companies have tried to piggyback their brand and failed (when was the last time you tuned in to watch the XFL?) due to poor targeting, bad quality, and sometimes just dumb luck.  SCVNGR has the potential to become a standard tool for businesses and institutions around the world.  Do you think SCVNGR and other GPS-centric apps like Foursquare are the next level of social media to cement themselves in our daily lives, or are they a fad which will fade as the titans of the industry adopt their own similar services? What are your thoughts on the practice of tying in a product with an established brand?  Is it manipulative or good business practice?


Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!
-Sam Winkler, 451 Marketing Intern
Sam is a senior majoring in Marketing at Harvard University

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