Young people today are more engaged with brands than ever before. With the widespread proliferation of the internet, most are constantly plugged in to online chat, social media, video games, and other electronic media. Additionally, information is always close-at-hand with the vast web of information available online. With these changes, new demands are emerging from younger generations who are desiring greater engagement, openness, and personalized interactions with the brands that cause them to buy. Below is a full overview of the state of Youth Marketing in 2014.
Although most people today consider youths to be young children below the age of 12, a wider demographic scope has been associated youths in the marketing field. Generally, youth marketing describes a broad range of marketing activities targeting young adults in the age range of 13 to 35.
In this range, financial independence is often achieved and these youths have greater influence over the purchasing decision. The youth market can also be further segmented into teenagers (13-18), young adults (18-24), and post-college (21-35).
Traditional Demographic Factors
Technological developments have had enormous consequences in recent years, but they still have not changed many of the fundamental factors that marketers cannot ignore. During this stage of life, differences in just a couple years of age can have much greater consequences than with older adults. Further, this segment of the population is more gender-conscious. This is especially true among the teenage and young adult segment, where many are still looking for a potential life partner.
This same driving factor also contributes to the youth market being self-conscious and especially interested in buying products that claim to improve perceptions by the other gender. For example, women often invest significantly in beauty products while men might buy workout equipment that build muscle.
Recent technological advancements have driven fundamental behavioral changes in the youth demographic in the past decade. Through social media, text messaging, video messaging, and more the youth population constantly keeps up with their friends and associates. Youths today consequently desire increased levels of privacy to prevent private communications from being shared elsewhere.
Most importantly, youths today are much more willing to engage with brands that provide services they regularly use. In fact, many youths today are expecting prospective brands to be active on social media to learn more about their offerings. Finally, youths today expect a wide range of information to be available online for them to learn more. When this is not supplied by the company itself, they will look to online reviews and referrals from friends through social media.
Importance of Social
Even to this day, it can be a challenge to adequately comprehend the importance of social media to this demographic. Recent studies have shown that 96 percent of youths are now using social media, with 94 percent actively using a Facebook account. In fact, a shocking 75 percent of homeless youths are even using Facebook as well.
These statistics show how social media not only has nearly a 100 percent adoption rate, but even transcends traditional socioeconomic barriers. Therefore, brands today need to be focused on this new social channel to develop strategies to effectively acquire new customers. Without doing this, brands can expect to have a difficult time reaching the youth segment where it matters most.
Recent studies have shown that about 92 percent of college students own a smartphone. Through these devices, youths today are able to communicate with friends, utilize apps, research information, and use GPS data from anywhere.
When youths today make a simple buying decision like where to purchase a pizza, most will open their smartphones to find the closest store. If they see that reviews are poor, they might be willing to drive an extra mile to the next location. Therefore, it is more important than ever that brands are optimizing their internet marketing strategies across all platforms including mobile. This is even true for brands that are not locally-oriented, who might benefit from a better onsite user experience when factoring these devices in.
Empowered by the internet, today's youths are increasingly seeing value in creating their own content. Whether a blog post, image file, or their own YouTube video, youths today are increasingly developing content themselves. For brands, this is important because the youth segment is now looking for increased customization and the availability of information related to how a product is made. Rather than merely looking for the finished product, youths are looking for products they can modify themselves.
Grasping a full understanding of the youth marketplace is a great challenge for marketers today. Traditional public relations and print advertising alone are not sufficient to compete in today's marketplace, especially in the youth segment. Therefore, marketers need to be increasingly open to reaching out to youths to learn their needs firsthand rather than assuming old paradigms are still the norm today.
Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of New York based 5WPR.