I'm all lost in the supermarket
I can no longer shop happily
I came in here for that special offer
A guaranteed personality
In 1979, the English punk rock band sang of rampant consumerism and disillusionment with the world – a timeless feeling that afflicts many a teen, whether coming of age in the post-disco era or today. The teen years are a time of rebirth, an awakening into a new world and a new consciousness of that world. Many teens look around and, perhaps for the first time in their lives, realize there are some serious problems. And they want to fix it.
Why teens make the best volunteers
The young have always been the drumbeat of change, and for good reason. They have copious amounts of energy and enthusiasm. They have disposable time. And in today’s education system, many have community service requirements in order to graduate or be accepted into clubs or honor societies.
Companies and brands that engage with the teen market do so in hopes that this key demographic will spend money. And lots of it. But marketers would do well to create campaigns that would inspire teens to spend something else: time, energy and passion.
Why inspiring your consumers to volunteer may be the best thing your brand ever does
It may just be in a company’s best interest to promote altruism and volunteering, rather than spending, amongst this age group. Why?
· Trust — Teens are wary of marketing messages. They are savvy consumers of a whole lot of information coming at them from all directions, and can sniff out disingenuousness. This makes it challenging for brands that want to engage this market. Those who can reach teens in a “non-marketing” way will have the most success – whether through education marketing or social responsibility engagement.
· CSR matters — A recent Nielsen study shows that 55% of respondents would pay extra for products and services from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact – an increase from even two years ago. Interestingly, people don’t only say they want to support products and companies that care, but analysis shows direct impact on sales in the form of a 5% increase for products that promoted sustainability actions through marketing programs, as compared to only a 1% increase in sales for those that didn’t.
· Widen fan base — Brands have the ability to establish or support teen volunteer opportunities that could allow them to attract new consumers. One example is the American Special Hockey Association (ASHA). It was created to give people of all ages and abilities a chance to learn and grow by playing hockey. The more than 50 ASHA programs across the U.S. rely on teens who volunteer their time coaching players with a range of mental and physical disabilities and passing along the love of hockey. The NHL supports this important initiative, and in doing so, widens its fan base, which increases ticket and merchandise sales.
· Social media — Teens can be powerful and creative ambassadors of your brand via social media. Imagine this: a food or clothing company creates a campaign encouraging teens to showcase their positive or creative interaction with its product on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. For every picture or statement uploaded, the brand promises a donation to a soup kitchen (based on the originator of the message’s location.) A brand couldn’t pay for better advertising.
According to a survey done in 2005 by the Corporation for National and Community Service in collaboration with the U.S. Census Bureau, 55% of kids ages 12-18 volunteer, and of those youth, 64% do so primarily through religious organizations, school-based groups, or youth leadership organizations. Today, unaffiliated non-profit organizations have cropped up that boast millions of members aged 25 and under who put their creativity and passion into tackling a whole host of issues. That’s a huge audience ripe for corporate involvement and inspiration.
Get up, stand up!
Bob Marley sang of taking action. John Lennon implored generations to “imagine no possessions … no need for greed or hunger.” These anthems are timeless. What other ways can brands harness the wonderful power of teens and keep them from getting lost in a world that too often seems focused only on acquiring the newest, biggest, shiniest thing? Share your ideas and thoughts in the comments section.