But, Mo-o-o-o-m! -- Converting Engaged Teens To Sales

We often focus on engaging teens. After all, this newsletter is titled "Engage:Teens." Let's be real though: teens aren't always your customer. More often than not, their parents -- who are footing the bill -- are your customer. This doesn't just apply to big-sticker items like laptops; a teen might have the cash for a can of soda, but wouldn't you rather sell them a case for $8.99?

To make the sale, you need to take a multi-pronged approach that sparks teens' interest and educates those purchasing the product or supplying the funds on why they should listen to their teen's request.

Step 1: Understand the continuum.

In the '50s you could run one ad that contained everything: branding, product benefits, and promotions. "Buy Coca Cola at your favorite store because it's refreshing and your friends are doing it." But this is 2010, and when marketing to teens, you really have two consumers, the teens themselves and their parents, and they typically are interested in brands for different reasons. Product awareness, education, and other purchasing drivers need to be separated and marketed differently and smartly.



Use your awareness play on teens, as they need to be interested in your brand. Is it cool? Do their friends think it's cool? Does it fit their lifestyle? Parents, on the other hand, are going to care more about product attributes. What does it cost? What's the sugar content? Is this product good for my child? Focus on education and key promotional points with parents or those responsible for purchases large and small.

Step 2: Location, Location, Location.

Consider where each segment -- teens and parents -- views marketing messages and reach them with tactical executions and media buys. Don't neglect the importance of positioning your message in the right channels. For teens, stick to the "cool" stuff. They tend to be tech savvy and get their information through emerging channels.

While you can reach teens by building an app, engaging them on Facebook, or sponsoring a tour, their parents are just coming around to these new channels, and are still more accustomed to receiving marketing messages through traditional channels. To reach those making the purchase, stick to tried-and-true methods like TV spots or print ads. It's okay to experiment with different channels, but if you're looking to be hyper-targeted, pay attention to the channels that work best for each segment.

Step 3: Make the sale.

When either consumer takes action, be ready. Obvious, right? Not so fast. Advertisers have only recently started paying attention to mobile advertising and most websites are not mobile friendly. When a teen on the run remembers your brand, they're most likely to search for it online and on a phone. Make sure that when they search, you're there and ready to embrace them with open arms. The teen may not be in a position to make a purchase, so when they ask their parents for money, be sure that your message and product benefits are already seeded with them (see Steps 1 and 2). Often advertisers segment so much that they miss the opportunity to make the sale.

So remember the continuum, your positioning, and what goes into making a sale when you're engaging teens. Your secondary market, parents, will most likely be the ones to complete the sale and they will do so at an increase price point and rate if you engage them, too.

1 comment about "But, Mo-o-o-o-m! -- Converting Engaged Teens To Sales ".
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  1. David Carnevale from MarketVision Consulting, September 30, 2010 at 11:16 a.m.

    Glad to see that things really don't change ... Perhaps younger marketing people don't have good mentors.

    30 years ago while working at Levi Strauss between MBA years, we conducted consumer research that clearly pointed out that teens did the asking/whining but moms (sometimes dads) did the purchasing.

    Levi's changed their communications strategy from one focused entirely on teens in many cases to address the needs of moms (buyer) as well as teenagers (users).

    As we all know the details are more complex and new channels of communication have developed over time, but the lesson is the same.

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