As usual, January will represent the declaration of many New Year’s resolutions. And while millions of people will be signing up for gym memberships or taking up a new hobby, there are certain stones that brands, particularly those trying to appeal to teens, should be turning over as well. As has been highlighted before, teenagers are one of the most unpredictable demographics when it comes to consumer behavior. However, based on trends observed over the latter half of 2013, there are certain changes teenage-centric brands should be making, if they haven’t already.
Concentrate more on Twitter – Yes, Facebook’s younger, and sometimes more perplexing, sibling has grown up – and in many cases has outpaced the largest social network in the world when it comes to appealing to advertisers. Brands should obviously be taking advantage of Twitter already, as it lends itself well to tactics such as native advertising and has proven that it’s willing to experiment with new concepts such as ad retargeting. Now, it appears that the network, which had previously been viewed as more of a news aggregator than a social network, is starting to see the love from teen audiences. A recent study by Pew Internet & American found that 26% of American teenagers consider Twitter their “most important” social site, about two times the amount from 2012. This fact reiterates not only that Twitter should be considered in brands’ multichannel marketing strategies, but that when it comes to teens, interests rarely stay the same for long.
Make health a priority – No, I’m not trying to play doctor here, but the days of junk food’s virtually guaranteed appeal to teenagers may be gone. A 2013 study by Piper Jaffray & Co. found that teens are increasingly choosing organic food options, jumping from 33% in 2012 to 39% in 2013. Teen smoking also saw a significant drop in 2013. Based on annual surveys of over 40,000 middle school and high school students by Monitoring the Future, the amount of teens who said they smoked dropped from 10.6% to 9.6%. This may not seem like a huge difference, but it definitely is according to Lloyd Johnston, principle investigator of the study. Brands of numerous sectors, such as quick service-restaurants, retail and technology can use this newfound desire to be healthy to their advantage by tastefully working it into their marketing strategies.
Highlight sales and low prices – Retail brands that were at the top of almost every teen’s wish list at one time, such as Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle and Aeropostale, are now starting to feel the heat from brands such as H&M and Forever 21. While these brands may offer lower quality clothing, price has now become a factor for teens, and the economy is still one of the main reasons for that. Outside of teen unemployment still being at a relatively high level, families in general are working together to reduce expenses, according to Brain Sozzi, CEO of Belus Capital Advisors. Due to this, teens have a greater awareness of what certain fashion and accessories are costing their parents. Many have changed their spending habits because of this.
Figure out how to better utilize ephemeral sites – As I’ve highlighted before, today’s teenagers very much value privacy. So it should come as no surprise that sites such as Snapchat are skyrocketing in popularity. Snapchat gives teens the ability to send a message, but not have to worry about it being “out there” forever (technically it still is, but for all intents and purposes, it’s gone). Some brands, such as Taco Bell and Grub Hub, have already utilized Snapchat as well as possible, but there is still room to be creative – it will just take a little more thought than simply posting something on a brand page wall.