Marketing to youth? It's child's play

Posted on 31st Oct 2011 by Scott Goodson in Blog

There’s one group of consumers today who have their finger on the pulse more than any other. They have money to spend and know exactly what to spend it on. Capture their interest, and they’ll be your ideal customer, spreading your message like wildfire amongst their peers whilst being fiercely loyal to your brand.

Welcome to the world of youth marketing. But targeting the youngsters of today – who let’s not forget will be the buyers of tomorrow – isn’t as easy as you may think. When devising and building a marketing strategy there are things you can’t ignore.

Like the fact that the youth of today are a cynical bunch. They don’t fall easily for marketing gimmicks, and will spot a hard-sell a mile away. So before you do anything, you need to remember – getting this group interested means you have to talk with them and involve them, not to them. They hate being dictated to.

Also vital is what media they’re interested in. These guys and girls aren’t your traditional media consumer. The internet is their key territory and it’s where they rule, using it as a communication tool above all else, tapping away at their smartphones and laptops updating their social media accounts and messaging friends. The internet is how they talk to one another.

So we know they like the internet, and they like to be involved in the conversation. And now more than ever, they’re more socially aware. It’s not a case of rebellion anymore, it’s responsibility. In fact, get them involved in a cause and they can be most passionate advocates you’ll find.

Of course, all of this leans to Cultural Movements, which are a natural fit for youth marketing. Because with movements, it’s all about the conversation. It’s about sparking interest and igniting passion for change. It’s about anything but the product. A Cultural Movement is exactly the sort of thing the youth of today loves to be involved in.

So how can you make your brand relevant to them? You need to find out first what the current conversation is. What’s capturing their interest at the moment, and how can your brand be part of it?

Identify how and where they’re talking about it – usually social media – but anywhere else? Make sure the information you’re going to give them is so brilliant, they have to share it. And give it in the right format – an online playground of free reign, ideally with customised content where they can create to their hearts content and claim it as their own. Remember, this group likes to feel good about themselves, so don’t dismiss offline elements in favour of online only – they like to talk, but they also like to do.

A great example of this is Rockcorps – a movement which started here in the US in the mid 1990s but is now worldwide. Across the globe, young people have embraced the ethos ‘Got 2 Give 2 Get’. It’s a simple idea – four hours volunteering in your community earns you a free ticket to a concert. So far over 35,000 young people have generated over 140,000 hours of community service to earn their place in the crowd. Rockcorps is coming back to the US in a big way in 2012, traditionally a telecoms brand is the partner of choice – originally it was Boost Mobile.

But remember - don’t stall. Fads and trends in this market come and go. So you need to be one step ahead every time. If there’s an opportunity to engage, seize it. Or you could miss the boat completely.

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