Lost Your Smartphone in a Bar Again? Maybe You Need a 'Drunk Phone'

Basics Q&A: Consumer Research Yields Unexpected Results

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If young people have to choose between big weekend nights out and successfully holding onto their smartphones, some will come up with a third option, according to Laura Krajecki, chief consumer officer at Starcom MediaVest Group.

"When you understand human behavior, you can connect that to products and services in their lives," she said in our latest conversation with a media agency executive.

Our conversation has been lightly edited.

Laura Krajecki
Laura Krajecki

Advertising Age: Tell me a discovery about human behavior that surprised you and why.

Laura Krajecki: We were just doing global research with field strategists in understanding the role of beer in Saturday night around the world vs. other drinks. In studying beer, we started to discover that young adults cherish their smartphones and iPhones so much that they don't want to lose them if they have an epic night out. Now they take what they call their "drunk phone," a cheap low-end phone, so now they are carrying two phones because they don't want to lose their smartphone.

What I love about this is we were studying beer and we stumbled upon an illuminating mobile insight that we wouldn't have seen before. They might not have told us that if we just sat down to talk to them about phones.

Ad Age : How do you use that research then, about going from smartphones to dumb phones?

Ms. Krajecki: There are some major mobile manufacturers already interested in that insight and that 's one of the great things about being in a large agency. I can work on spirits and from what we learn we can connect the dots for mobile and technology clients. Our job is to take that immediately to clients. You could see a new product development strategy there. You could be manufacturing two different types and calibers of phones. Or one phone that detaches into a lower-res version, and that 's a product engineering insight. Or maybe you're a client developing cloud services and this could help you with backup services targeted to young adults so they can back up their data on their phone and not lose it if they lose their phones while out. When you understand human behavior, you can connect that to products and services in their lives.

Ad Age : What have you observed just in daily life that 's useful for marketing?

Ms. Krajecki: There is nothing better than standing in a shopping aisle and listening to a conversation. If you stand in a hair-care aisle long enough you will notice people are constantly sniffing the shampoos because they are purchasing on scent. Those might be scent loyalists. But you turn that into a marketing insight with creative on the emotional side of scent, the uplift from the role of scent. You will also see teen girls doing that in groups and you realize they are shopping and playing. That's the success of the Macs and Sephoras. They have tapped into that and recognized that for teen girls makeup shopping is play and recreation, and they replicate the experience in their stores of girls in a dorm room, putting on makeup and getting ready to go out and be social.

Ad Age : You started the Moms and Youth Human Experience Centers. What is that and what have you learned from it?

Ms. Krajecki: The majority of our SMG brands are trying to connect with either youth or moms, so we built "human experience centers" to be in regular real-time contact with them around the world. From a desk in Chicago, I can issue a brief and in a week engage with 1,200 moms and 500 youths around the world. In February and March a bunch of moms in this community were having conversations about tax returns and what they would use their returns for. A lot of them were using it on a new TV or clothes for kids or bedding or home appliances. We took that insight and gave it to a big-box retailer to target specific promotions around coming into the store and using that money.

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