JCK Las Vegas: Tap Technology to Reach Twentysomethings

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In a packed conference room full of seasoned jewelry professionals, the man with the answers stood at the front of the room wearing blue jeans. That’s because it was Michael Hagan, COO of Scvngr, an interactive scavenger hunt service, who was lecturing folks old enough to be his parents on the virtues of social networking technology. Hagan spoke to jewelers Friday morning in a seminar titled “Using New Technology and Innovation to Reach Today’s Customer.”

Michael Hagan, founder of Scvngr, spoke to jewelers about technology during JCK Las Vegas.

The entrepreneur detailed how he and his twentysomething pals didn’t read newspapers, watch television, or buy CDs. He and others like him are “digital natives”—those raised on technology—and, instead of listening to the radio, Hagan and friends log onto Pandora.com for instantly customized playlists of favorite songs. They also carry iPods nearly every waking moment, and—caution on roadways—text while driving. “Technology has so ingrained itself into how I’m living life,” said Hagan.

To establish relationships with the people who are using this technology, jewelers need to tap into it. Thanks to Facebook and My Space, the word friend anymore indicates a loose affiliation with people, but these online acquaintances are important because they’re growing in number due in part to the fact that kids today are raised in a high-tech world.

Meanwhile, social networking sites like Twitter cost little or nothing to use. In fact, Hagan detailed a Facebook promotion conducted in Tucson, Ariz., that cost less than $500 to produce and caught the attention of more than 1 million people.

But perhaps the most “game-changing technology” available today, according to Hagan, is the iPhone, which serves as a telephone and iPod, connects to the Internet, and features e-mail. To illustrate the importance of this technology, Hagan told the audience about his quest to find a house of worship near his home; he searched for one on his iPhone, which showed that the closest one was across town. Or so he thought: Hagan discovered that he had been passing one of the biggest churches in the country on his daily walk from home to work, and didn’t know because its address wasn’t registered in Google maps.

Hagan advised jewelers to create engaging applications with the potential to “go viral” that would “create junkies.” While gaming enthusiasts delight in the collectible clues—online and in real life—proffered by Halo creators, jewelers can create a similar momentum by staging bridal-themed scavenger hunts with outcomes hinging on clues sent by text messages. In exchange for play, jewelers collect love stories and other details from participants—all in the market for bridal jewelry—who have the chance to win a diamond ring, courtesy of a vendor sponsor.

Says Hagan: “Technology is changing so quickly that you’ve got to be thinking about it to keep up.”