How To Hit The Bull's Eye

This is a generation that grew up with the power of the Internet at its fingertips. PricewaterhouseCoopers' consumer research on the youth market has found that today's teens want -- and expect -- the ability to connect with others and access the most current content whenever and wherever they want. As such, the Internet and mobile devices and products hold enormous sway over their purchasing decisions, particularly for media, content and technology, influencing everything from the gadgets they buy to the content they download.

In the U.S. alone, teens wield more than $176 billion in spending power through their own purchases and their significant influence over the spending decisions of friends and family, according to the 2009 Global Teen Edition of the TRU Study.

By appealing to teens' desires to be mobile and remain connected, marketers can tap into a powerful demographic. Here's how:

Harness the power of peer influencers Teens place enormous value on the recommendations and tastes of their trusted friends or close-in-age family members, as well as the opinions of their classmates and their virtual peer groups on Facebook and Twitter. Teens also trust the opinions of other teens they consider peer influencers: often popular, confident, or funny teens who know about music, TV shows, movies or games, and are able to fluently and creatively express their opinions.

Marketers who understand the power and characteristics of peer influencers can tap into these groups to build brand loyalty and promote products, services or content among their peers.

Boost brand collaboration Teens are willing to invest their time in brand collaboration if it provides an immediate benefit to them, such as making content easier to access or less expensive, as in the cooperative effort for accessing movies between Xbox Live and Netflix. Teens also perceive brands favorably if they find them personally relevant or involve products or services they might use; or if the collaboration allows them to express their opinions or communicate with impact, such as the ability to talk to an MTV host live via Twitter.

Brand collaboration must have a clear benefit to be valued by teens. If savings and efficiencies are not clearly involved, brand collaboration risks being ignored.

Sell style, not just service For teens, the styling and features of electronics are virtually as important as their functionality. Design should be a priority in any technology targeted to kids, especially mobile technology that will be used or displayed in social situations, such as cell phones, smart phones and portable media players.

Offer free trials Free trials and other incentives are powerful ways to attract teen attention -- particularly in today's tight economy, when fewer discretionary dollars trickle down from parents to teens. Trials are frequently the way teens first experience new content before they commit to a purchase. Teens are also willing to accept advertising in scenarios where they can get content for free, such as on music and gaming sites or free video streaming sites such as Hulu, tv.com, or YouTube.

Talk to them in text Kids are talking this way on their cell phones and through social networks. Texting can be used and accepted to get an advertising message across --especially if there is a benefit, such as reduced phone bills.

Catch them with viral video Video communication and sharing are extremely popular, especially with humorous content. Getting teens to stream, share, and rate your company's videos constitutes both an endorsement and a way to build your brand via today's version of word of mouth.

Advertise across platforms Teens access content across multiple online media platforms, so advertisers should be there, too. Be present on social networks, content portals and search engines.

Reaching today's youth can be challenging -- but it's not impossible. Talk their talk. Know what they know. Understand what pushes their buttons. And embrace the fast-paced, electronic, mobile environment preferred by this new consumer generation to achieve notable results.

Tags: teens
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3 comments about "How To Hit The Bull's Eye ".
  1. paul myers , January 7, 2010 at 2:51 p.m.

    But, teens don't use Twitter. I agree that they are influenced by their peers on Facebook and even Myspace. But, they don't communicate via live Twitter feeds. They use SMS and IM via a mobile device, social network or e-mail program.

  2. Jeffrey Chester from CDD , January 8, 2010 at 10:53 a.m.

    Responsible marketers should recognize that targeting adolescents, especially through digital advertising and viral schemes, is on the radar of advocates and policymakers. It's unfortunate this column did not discuss the ethical issues, as well as the role certain marketing practices play with the youth obesity epidemic. During the next few years, there will be a growing call on the FTC and Congress to better protect adolescents from unfair and deceptive marketing efforts, including viral/social media, mobile marketing and behavioral targeting.

  3. Mitch Anthony from titanium , January 8, 2010 at 12:09 p.m.

    I think this article is absolutely brilliant in its simplicity. Target peer influencers first, offer opportunities for brand collaboration, focus on stylish design and utilize texts and viral video. It's so simple that it's easy to see how to translate the same advice to other demos, too. I've got a client who wants to reach smart 35+ women, for example. You can easily apply this matrix to that group. I suspect that it will work for any digital-using demo.

    I blogged about this article here: http://www.element22.com/site/blog.php