Market Focus: Best Behavior

Markets Focus: Best Behavior

New behavioral segmentation finds some teenage surprises

Today's teens are not the couch potatoes we expect. It's no joke that teens are hard to reach, online or off. Well it is a joke, but they are actually hard to reach. We have statistics. But the money they have to spend is just ridiculous. In 2008, teens spent an average of $97 a week, according to Youth Pulse, a youth marketing and research firm. The recession hasn't put much of a dent in their purchasing power. According to an October Ypulse
Insights poll, teens still have an average of $243 per month, while those in college go through $483 a month.

Marketers hoping to figure out how to get teenagers to throw some of that purchasing power in their direction have a new tool. ASL Teen Segments is a new, proprietary offering from Euro RSCG Discovery that claims to be the first behavioral teen marketing segmentation. Discovery is the North American data analytics, CRM and behavioral marketing agency network of Euro RSCG Worldwide.

"In the past, when clients wanted to reach teens, they were limited to segmenting by the basics of age, geography and possibly some household information. Now, we've added social and behavioral demographics," says Don Damore, CEO of American Student List (ASL), a Discovery affiliate company.

Discovery merged ASL's database containing demographic and geographic information on teens with data from MRI Teenmark Surveys, which focus on media use and brands. Its analysis identified five female segments and six male. Girls segmented into In-Style Socialites, Jockettes, Most Likely to Succeed, Style Meets Thrift and Traditionalists. The male segments are: Big Man on Campus, Red-Blooded Boys, Technosapiens, Tuned Inward, Under Construction and Young Metrosexuals.

"You want to look at something that is strategically useful and actionable. And you want to look at segments in which there aren't overlaps," says Paula Ausick, director of strategy for Euro RSCG Discovery.

Focus: Best Behavior

Girls, Uninterrupted
Therefore, this segmentation lets marketers look beyond the stereotypes of boys as jocks or nerds and girls as music- and make-up-obsessed.

Twenty-one percent of teen girls are classified as Style Meets Thrift, meaning they like to imitate fashion trends with value-priced purchases. Despite their thrift, they're some of the highest female earners and spenders - but few make purchases online. The In-Style Socialites, or 16 percent of girls, have personal credit cards that they use for heavy spending on anything to do with appearance. Also constituting 16 percent, the Most Likely to Succeed plan corporate careers and invest in looking just right. They are the heaviest users of the internet, social media and email; they also make the most online purchases.

As the name implies, Traditionalists, at 19 percent, look for fashion trends in newspapers and buy from traditional media. Jockettes, the largest segment, representing more than one-fourth of females, are healthy, active and sports-oriented. Maybe because they spend so much time on the playing field, they tend to be average to light internet users. They spend mostly on sports equipment.

Boys, Better
Belying the idea that all teenage boys are wired, the Technosapiens segment comprise only 14 percent of the kids. (And in case you misread that, the word was wired, they are, in fact, still weird.) And, while they do indeed use the Internet heavily to relax, socialize, be entertained and stay informed, they are also heavy TV users. The other five male segments, or a full 85 percent of guys in the study, are moderate to light internet users.

Okay, but those Technosapiens are the juiciest segment, right? Not so fast. Yes, they are wealthier, and they tend to have their own credit cards. But in fact, Young Metrosexuals, at 26 percent, earn and spend nearly as much as Big Men on Campus (19 percent) and Technosapiens. Young Metrosexuals love their cars and their cell phones, but they also love magazines and television.

The Turned Inward, 10 percent of boys, are self-contained and stick mostly to radio and magazines. Under Construction (19 percent) are traditional shoppers and light media users, while Red-Blooded Boys (11 percent) prefer the outdoors to media, and tend to be practical and frugal shoppers.

Understanding the different segments isn't the only actionable info, according to Damore. An advertiser can use it to tailor different messaging about the same product. "For example, you may have a group of teens that are primarily driven by price and value, while another group is focused on style or staying ahead of the curve. There are two different groups, but it doesn't mean that only one group is ideal for your product."

Another finding that counteracts conventional wisdom is the continued importance of TV, that is, television content consumed on the big screen. Boys are still watching good old TV, with Technosapiens, Big Men on Campus and Young Metrosexuals being heavy viewers.

"I don't think TV will go away," says Ausick. "Do you want to watch something on your13-inch screen or on the 36-inch screen?" She points out that television has a strong social aspect when kids get together to watch programs that become part of their group's culture. It's harder to socialize around a computer.

She suggests that content producers could use the Teen Segments to create new programming that addresses interests that aren't being addressed, as well as for ideas to incorporate into their existing offerings.

The Jockettes segment illustrates how marketers can use the database strategically, according to Ausick, who said she was surprised about how big and strong the Jockettes group is. "It's not just about watching sports but active participation. That says a lot in terms of potential trends. What values and activities will they carry forth in their adulthood?" she wonders.

But marketers can also find opportunity in the less affluent and less media-soaked segments, she pointed out. "Are there things out there that are interesting to them that would cause them to use the internet more? Maybe I can increase their usage if I had relevant content," she says.

For example, In-style Socialites, who spend around 3.5 hours a day online, may do so because there's so much fashion and beauty content available online.

For every segment, she adds, the database can help marketers identify, "What is out there that really speaks to their passion?"

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