Yes Sir, you heard it right! Selling to youth is easy. No pun intended. The only thing youth expect from you is some amount of creativity, feel-good experience and value for money. Is it too much, marketers?
It’s high time the brands stop talking and begin listening to their consumers. Listen, Engage and Develop. Agreed, the brand building is long and tedious process. Especially, it becomes much more challenging when marketers are targeting a segment as diverse and picky as youth minds are. To their relief, this entire process of youth engagement can be turned into a very creative and interesting journey for both sides. Before you jump on the youth marketing bandwagon, take a look at certain pieces of advice on youth engagement theme:
Understand Youth Perspective
Bundle out all the old, traditional marketing thoughts and throw them out of the window as its high time you start all over again. Think like a young mind would think in his/her age. Put yourself in their shoes. Think how they live, think, connect or share today. Explore their likes and dislikes, their passion points. Look around for young people in the society. Interact with youth in your family or neighborhood. Try to grasp their attitude and reaction points towards the consumption patterns. Understand the factors that affect youth’s choice of brands and altering their buying decisions.
Follow 90/10 Rule
There is a golden rule of 90/10 in youth marketing. Take the example of Nokia vs. Apple. Nokia has worked on the path of serving ‘everything to everybody’ while Apple has focused on serving ‘something to somebody.’ And we all know who has broken the ice with youth! Focus on the 10% niche youth segment that influence the 90% of the mass market. This 10% youth are the real change agents – affecting and altering the style, fashion and outlook of marketing and consumption trends. This segment is highly concentrated so here the key is to focus, focus and focus until you become irresistible to your buyers.
That time is gone when the marketers used to say and do – ‘Content is the King.’ Today, only content won’t serve their purpose. Content can be a vehicle of information but what really matter is the ‘context,’ or in other words, the ‘relevance.’ Context can actually change the taste of your product. A brand needs to be relevant to youth in their daily life. Here, content and the context serve as the building blocks of this relationship. Here, your product works as content and social interaction as the context. Use the content and context in such manner that you don’t just tell ‘what’ but also explain the ‘how’ aspect of certain problem. They all know the ‘what’ side of a matter but they are more interested in ‘How’ side of the solution for that problem. You just need to add more value to this context of social interaction.
Find the Common Link
First understand your target audience and then try to discover the familiar ground between your brand and the audience. Once you have got the common links between both the brand and the youth, you can easily develop an experience to share for them based on the context and the relevance. Allow youth to express themselves and connect with the brand in different ways. The beauty of it is you get some incredibly creative output, and because of the connectivity of teens, it creates a huge buzz in the market. This brings you to the storytelling aspect of branding.
Don’t overdo Oomph Factor – There are many products which are not youth specific but they have got functional value for youth. In such cases, few brands try harder to be something that they are not – hip hop, cool and stylish. Just because youth is your targeted audience, it doesn’t mean being cool or stylish will attract you eyeballs. The idea should be to create a social context and be relevant to youth. Try to be a part of their life experiences and blend your brand in their story-telling.
Let Them Deliver the Message
Even 3 years back or so, storytelling was only aimed at products or brands. But today, storytelling is about customers and not brands anymore. Create a home or a platform for your fans/customers/consumers in the form of a community, cause or movement. Stimulate the dialogue and let all of them find their own personalized context. Let them connect and do the talking. This entire approach of empowering the consumer is fundamental to the idea of treating the consumer as a partner rather than the profit center. Empower them with the power to see themselves as they way they want to be seen.
Understand Their Purchase Decisions
For any brand marketing to them, there has to be a finger on the pulse at all times. Many of the young adults are just beginning to make independent choices. For small items, they go according to their personal tastes. For big ticket items, they depend on family/friends’ recommendations, online reviews, past experiences of that brand etc. And if they find a better deal, they won’t mind switching to another brand.
Don’t Sell, Just Engage
Stop being a control freak with your brand. Stop controlling and start engaging. Pay attention, listen more, and build trust. Many marketers mistake engagement with sending out product information or sharing features and benefits of the brand. They forget that engagement is more than just telling or selling but it’s about creating a conversation with your audience. Get to know your audience, interact and build relationships. Leverage social media so your fans feel as though they’re actually a part of your brand. See how lady Gaga has branded her followers as ‘Little Monsters’ making them feel connected to her and each other. Use sensitive yet powerful words which enthuse and inspire. Try to weave – youth, brand, and social relevance – seamlessly together in the message and success will follow.
One should realize by this time that there is no single best way to connect with youth. There can be multiple ways of reaching out to youth. But all of those methods are certain to share factors like listening to youth, engaging them with social conversations and creating experiences. The best part of youth segment is their readiness to co-create and build the brands with their 360-degree modern approach. And marketers shouldn’t miss on this.
Come out of your office walls and step into a university or college campus where youth is co-creating the brands in their own style. Make them your brand ambassadors and see how your brand becomes the talk of the town within a short span of time.
At Pulp Strategy, we believe that marketers should move from traditional marketing and branding toward innovation-led youth marketing domain and see the actual impact difference themselves. Being a ‘leader in the making’ in experiential marketing and communications industry in India, esteemed customers depend on Pulp for customized youth engagement programs, interactive, experiential marketing and social media services delivered through consumer connect modules. For more information, please visit, www.pulpstrategy.com.