Tyler Tanaka, YEN Member Insights, September 2010

Tyler Tanaka, SEMA YEN Member of the Month, September 2010

Today’s Technologies and Tomorrow
With Tyler Tanaka, PostRelease

Tyler Tanaka has been an active participant in the automotive aftermarket for more than 20 years, as an enthusiast and a marketing specialist.  He has helped to pioneer the way that brands utilize social media to form direct connections with their customers online. Tyler, aside from his day job as Account Director for PostRelease, serves as the Chair-Elect for the SEMA Street Performance Council (SPC) and is also a YEN member. Considered an industry expert when it comes to emerging trends and current technologies, YEN was pleased to have the opportunity to interview Tyler for this month’s YEN Insight.  Interview performed by Gregory Parker.

QUESTION 1: I assume you would agree with the statement that, “technology is driven by the younger generation.”  As our industry moves further into the 21st Century, and as the current younger generation becomes the company principles within our industry, how do you foresee things being different?

“There is undoubtedly a changing of the guard happening right now but the incredible thing that is taking place is the baby boomer and later generations are quickly embracing the latest trends and tactics in digital marketing and advertising, both personally and professionally. Call it survival of the fittest if you will but the automotive aftermarket consumer has always proven to be a fickle and the industry has been forced to rapidly adjust. From the gas crisis of the ‘70s to the sport compact craze of the ‘90s, the past has shown that companies with leaders, who are capable of adapting quickly, come out on the profitable side of business and keep leading the way in their respective specialties. This digital marketing shift and current consumer craze with social media is sifting out progressive and forward thinking business people at an accelerated pace. I would never claim to be able to predict what is coming next but I can tell you that anyone taking a “wait and see” approach to marketing is going to have serious problems compared to those who quickly identify where consumers are flocking and reaching out to them in those spaces.”

QUESTION 2: Technology over the last 5 to 10 years has changed so drastically that it has literally flipped the scale on marketing expertise.  The “experts” of yesteryear now have to rethink strategies in order to keep up with current trends.  How do you foresee this affecting our industry age groups specifically as we move forward?

“I actually see this as being a benefit to existing experts already embedded in their respective companies. They are usually already in positions of leadership and are the decision makers. The key point for the “old guard” in marketing and advertising positions to remember is to change the delivery locations of marketing and the speed at which it gets rolled out. The principles of good advertising are no different than before. Branding, message, target demographics, etc. all remain constants. The difference between then and now is the speed at which the target audience is moving between mediums. TV, print and radio cannot be counted on to successfully reach your consumers. Social gaming, geo-location, and video delivery to both standard on-line locations as well as mobile devices are the new ways to reach those same masses. Reacting quickly to emerging trends and intelligently identifying proper amounts of budget to invest are how successful companies continue to separate themselves from the pack.”

QUESTION 3: With new technologies comes the challenge of continually convincing company principles that they need to stay up-to-date in order to survive.  Does the old argument of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” still apply in the 21st century?

“That statement has wreaked havoc throughout the automotive aftermarket for 40 years. This philosophy pretty much just played itself out with the Detroit Big 3 over the past 3 years. But look at how dramatically things changed when it all came crashing down. It can be argued that it was broken this entire time and that technology and the advancements in consumer communication is what is working towards helping them improve. Take Ford for example, they quickly embraced not only new technology (Microsoft Sync) but also new marketing techniques such as Twitter, Facebook and online video. They then deployed them very successfully on product releases such as the Edge and Fiesta campaigns. Other companies, both large and small, that have been unable to change the way they market their products or more importantly modify their product offerings to meet consumer and market demands have quickly succumb to economic pressures. In today’s constantly changing business climate, companies who stand still in any aspect of their operation, will have tremendous difficulty marketing properly to an increasingly fickle consumer group. Not changing your product offering does not even apply in markets with high patents and exclusivities; updates, improvements and new versions are mandatory to stay alive. The same is true for all of your brands marketing and advertising. Creative campaigns get noticed by consumers and then by the press and media, which in turn help generate even more opportunity to reach general consumers. Just make sure that when you do, in fact, come up with something creative to do everything in your power to tell everyone you possibly can.”

QUESTION 4: If you had to name one area of the industry that will be affected the most by the continual emergence of mobile online dependence, what would it be?  Is this an area where company principles and young executives should be working more closely together to plan for?

To me, this is undoubtedly going to affect current online retailers most. Retailers and distributors that just yesterday changed how brick and mortar sales used to do business will once again see dramatic changes in the sales landscape. Mobile on-line sales are projected to quadruple in the next four years totaling more than $630 billion. If you are not making it easy for consumers to buy your products, or at least minimally research your brand offerings on their mobile devices, you are going to lose out on some massive revenue opportunities. The adoption rate of smart phones continues to increase exponentially and the amount that consumers are interacting with their devices continues to increase. Desktop computer sales continue to go down as laptops become more popular and mobile smart phones will consume 40% of Internet by 2013. eBay alone has projected $1.5 to $2.0 Billion in mobile sales in 2010.

QUESTION 5: As you know, this is the 20th anniversary of the SEMA Young Executive’s Network.  20 years ago some of the technologies that are available today were just dreams.  In your opinion, what outlandish technologies will become the norm over the next 20 years?

“I don’t think that I could possibly predict what is going to come to fruition in 20 years, but I do think that over the next 5 years we will see a continued push towards mobile technology advancements. What may seem normal to the younger Generation-Y and faster adopting coastal cities are not necessarily the usual in many parts of the country or the globe, for that matter. The United States is far behind other countries such as Japan in broadband coverage and mobile Internet usage. Mobile smart phone advancements are going to continue to revolutionize our lives, especially with the advent of broadband Wi-Fi expansion. I think that fairly soon we will have Internet access just about everywhere we go and This will change the delivery of information on a massive scale. Along with this will come large geo-location advertising and marketing initiatives and we are already seeing the very beginning of this come to form with social properties such as Foursquare and Facebook’s newly introduced “Places” functionality. The other area that I see becoming normal is in delivering messages dynamically through digital ink or “E-Ink”. The majority of billboards will become digital, in-store signs will be video content and interactive and perhaps even intuitive to consumers buying needs.”