Marketers Get Social with Young Consumers

Discussion
Dec 07, 2005
George Anderson

By Rupa Ranganathan, Ethnic Strategist, Strategic Research Institute

(www.srinstitute.com)


Teenagers will be the first to tell you that their parents and other adults just do not get them. If you’re a marketer and you’re looking to get some of the $175 billion spent annually by 12- to 17-year-olds or the $200 billion plunked down by college students, then the December 12 cover story of Business Week is a must read for you.


The issue looks at an entirely new space in marketing, brand-building and word-of-mouth buzz with a peek into youth-oriented blogspheres and online social networks, such as Buzz-Oven.com, Facebook.com, Myspace.com and Xanga.com.


Myspace.com alone has 40 million members and now ranks as the 15th most visited site on the internet.


The teens and twenty-somethings who visit Myspace.com and other sites are “the first cohort to grow up fully wired and technologically fluent.” They go to sites to communicate with peers, get information on the current music scene, help with schoolwork or emote over a recent breakup. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, teens spend one hour and 22 minutes a day engaged in social networking online.


Coke, along with others such as Target, Sony Pictures, Procter & Gamble, Apple Computers and Victoria’s Secret, are among the marketers making a space for themselves in this new sphere.


Apple Computer began sponsoring an official group on the Facebook site after its founder Mark Zuckerburg noticed college students setting up groups such as Apple Students. Facebook boasts 9.5 million members, mostly college students. Through its official group sponsorship, Apple gives away iPod Shuffles in weekly contests as well as being able to directly reach interested consumers with product announcements and links to student discounts.


One area not adequately addressed in the excellent Business Week piece is the multicultural market. According to New American Dimensions, 40 percent of the population under 25 is multicultural and belongs to some ethnicity or race other than non-Hispanic-white.


Moderator’s Comment: Does the strong multicultural background of large numbers of younger consumers pose an added challenge to brand marketers who are
attempting to market via social networks? How can multicultural marketers seize a new space in the broader sphere of blogs and social networks to accelerate brand buzz?


George Anderson – Moderator

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7 Comments on "Marketers Get Social with Young Consumers"


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Greg Coghill
Guest
Greg Coghill
15 years 2 months ago

Yes, multicultural users of social networks sites are an added challenge to marketers, but it should ALSO be viewed as a great opportunity. While I am not willing to share all my thoughts about the second question, I would suggest taking a look at http://www.vivamigente.com, a culturally focused social networking site. This might open up more thoughts.

Gwen Kelly
Guest
Gwen Kelly
15 years 2 months ago

Throughout the years there have been brands that have profited successfully in various populations because the brand chose different approach than that in the general market. For example, wasn’t it recently reported that McDonald’s was seeking opportunities with hip-hop songwriters to integrate references to the company in songs? Certainly an interesting approach by McDonald’s, in my opinion, to gain additional “street cred” with teens and tweens in this instance. Like Bernie Slome commented earlier, I would agree, marketers should look at change as an opportunity versus a challenge. And, I would add, meeting this social and techno-savvy consumer where they are at is what will greatly aid in ensuring a brand’s relevancy and longevity.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
15 years 2 months ago

Mass market media are not reaching this age group in general, regardless of whether they are members of minority groups or not. The mass market among adults is breaking up; the mass market among teenagers is dead. Finding ways to communicate to members of this market with new technology is essential. Any company not experimenting with new media to reach this market will find themselves lagging behind their competitors. Yes, there is a large minority population in this market. However, purchasing behavior does not break down neatly according to ethnic identity. Learning how purchasing behavior does break down among this group and how they use media is critical for reaching this market.

Michael Richmond, Ph.D.
Guest
Michael Richmond, Ph.D.
15 years 2 months ago
A Brand is a very complex and simple thing. In many cases marketers think they know what their brand stands for but it may mean something else to the ultimate consumer. I think the new younger tech literate consumers are on the right track and word of mouth marketing and internet marketing is the right way to go. But the real key is to keep it simple and to be true to the brand and the consumer. We like to say Product = product + package + equity + services. In a sense, you have the brand captured here. The forgotten component in the mix is the package! The package , including shelf impact, performance, materials and content all mean something to the younger consumers. So be sure and keep package in mind. This is probably even more true for the multicultural tech gen, since they still bring important archetype information from their heritage. It is not easy, but marketers and the collaborative teams need to be more engaged, and must be sure to consider… Read more »
Mark Lilien
Guest
15 years 2 months ago

A brand can market itself to a group without other groups knowing. American Airlines, Budweiser, Subaru, and other brands advertise in gay media but they aren’t identified among the non-gay population as brands just for gay people. And an “old brand” can reposition itself to be hip. The most famous instant repositioning/revitalization story is Reese’s Pieces E.T. movie placement. (See “Taking it E.T.” for that story.)

As far as the multicultural marketplace goes, there are many ethnic web sites that are excellent for pinpoint marketing, from various Hispanic sites to Jewish sites to Turkish sites.

Bernie Slome
Guest
Bernie Slome
15 years 2 months ago
Teenagers, since time immemorial, have felt that they were misunderstood by the “older generation.” In my time, the slogan was never trust anyone over 30. My parents didn’t understand the Beatles, probably much the same way I don’t understand Eminem. The biggest difference, in my opinion, is that in the past marketers had fewer vehicles to use to reach out to teens. Today, with the different social networks, while it is still a challenge to marketers, it offers them a greater opportunity to build brand identity with teens. The challenge is to come up with the appropriate marketing idea for the corresponding social network and staying within budget. Social networks, in some way, represent an opportunity similar in nature to when the television first became as omnipresent as it is today. TV was a way to reach the masses. It was a way to reach teens and pre-teens. It did not eliminate other channels, rather it added to the marketer’s ability to create brand and product recognition. Today, social networks, while not yet having the… Read more »
Stephan Kouzomis
Guest
Stephan Kouzomis
15 years 2 months ago

No, it isn’t a threat to Brand Marketers. But there need to be different approaches to communicate the Brand’s message.

Nothing new – start with segmentation of the target audience; understand their mindset and needs.

Then, find the media vehicle or multi-venues to contact AND communicate the Brand message, that could be executed very differently than the previous ad messages.

For sure, media for connecting with Mom and Dad of this group of teens is different. So be it. This is why marketing and advertising people are paid so well. They create businesses and the implicit need to buy! Hmmmmmmmm

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