One of my favorite topics to cover is anything that my loyal readers suggest. Last week, “doohan” sent me a link to uPumpItUp, a program from the Crystal Light brand. I would call uPumpItUp a “platform for social reinforcement of habit change” targeted at women. It is certainly meaningful marketing, and an interesting play for Crystal Light.
The site itself challenges women to “inspire each other to do more of the things that make us feel great, and help share that good feeling with others.” The program is “hosted” by Mandy Moore. It revolves around four categories and includes video hosts who are experts in each: Connect (share moments with the people you love), Express (upgrade your style), Inspire (“tune out distractions and tune into yourself”), and Explore (find new passions and be spontaneous).
Each category includes some short suggestions and ideas; but the focus is on member-generated challenges. And each challenge has multiple steps to ease members into the change. For example, on the Explore page, there are 152 members of the “Backyard Explorer: Become a Tourist in Your Hometown” challenge. Steps include: “Do Your Research” and “Explore a New Neighborhood.” Such challenges are another example of building meaningful connections in a social setting. People are often more motivated to change if others (even strangers) commit to joining them.
Overall, this feels like a meaningful marketing program. There are more than 50,000 consumers in the program, and I see a good amount of activity in the challenge membership and comment areas. These comments are very positive and I imagine that a good number of consumers who choose to engage with the program are making small steps to “pump up” their lives.
On the other hand, I see some room for improvement. First, the videos are a bit over-the-top and slow to load, and can be annoying for return visitors. There are other issues in how the information is presented and accessed. These issues really speak to the need of websites to prioritize User Experience over creative bells and whistles. In tools like this, people want easily accessible information. It’s why “ugly” sites such as Craigslist score so well with visitors. This is one of those areas of expertise that brand managers are just beginning to understand, and where many digital agencies are behind in building. (Yes, I’ve become a UX snob and we’ve got a great crew.)
The site is also missing critical aspects of Web 2.0 that make these tools more useful. I see no RSS feeds, downloadable content, or the ability to integrate with existing social networks such as Facebook. The hosts’ content is flat and unchanging. You can’t even search the site. I believe these are missed opportunities, and leave members wondering if this will go away in six months. The people who would participate in such groups have come to expect these features.
I think the jury is out on the business impact of uPumpItUp. The Crystal Light brand does not seem well integrated into the program. Branding is missing, aside from a logo at the bottom (below the fold) and a design element of colored liquid flowing across the page. I’m dying for Crystal Light to explain why it is hosting this program, and why it is a fit with the brand. On the positive side, it seems to have gotten a lot of press from leading magazines and online properties.
I think uPumpItUp is a good step into the world of meaningful marketing for Crystal Light. But I hope this is the first baby step toward real change, rather than a short-term promotion that will shut down when Mandy Moore’s contract expires.