Best Practices - Marketing to Teens
Six best practices for marketing to teens are: work alongside them and not against them, create content that teenagers want, engage and be active on the social platforms that are most relevant, optimize the mobile experience, promote entrepreneurial values, and be authentic and ethical about the product or service being promoted.
Teenagers are being defined in this research as Generation Z, which is 22 years of age and under. A detailed analysis for each best practice, along with a description of it, and additionally, 2 examples of companies that have successfully marketed to teenagers in the United States, are detailed below.
Looking to teenagers for advice on their brand is something most CMOs and CEOs have likely never thought they would ever be doing, but if they are looking to create a lasting relationship with this demographic, then it certainly makes sense to understand how a teenagers' brain works.
Work Alongside Them, Not Against Them
- When working on a marketing plan that is aimed at teenagers, taking a hard look at the company's workforce is in order. Are there teenagers on the team, even as an intern? Onboarding a full, or more likely on a part-time basis, teenager is a way to get the inside scoop on what it hot and trending in your category. They know what teenagers like and dislike. As well, a company can provide them the opportunity to grow their careers in the firm. In return for their slant on things, they would be able to get real, hands-on experience by working in the business alongside other professionals. This then becomes a win-win for both sides of the business.
Create Content that Teenagers Want
- Teenagers represent about $44 billion dollars of purchasing power in the United States and spend about 9 hours a day on social media.
- In order to connect with teens, it is essential to create personalized content and it is essential to a brand's success.
- Teens expect a more personalized and targeted experience based on the customer’s shopping habits and preferences. This is confirmed by a Google report that reveals twenty-six percent of teen shoppers expect retailers to offer them this. This means that it is necessary to personalize shopping experiences that can relate to Gen Z on a human level.
- Research conducted by JWT Intelligence and Snap Inc suggests that much of what makes social media so compelling to Gen Z is a combination of creativity and interactivity.
Engage and be Active on the Social Platforms that are Most Relevant
- In the world of social platforms, there is not equality across the board. For example, whether teens have largely left Facebook may not be completely accurate. According to one study, more teens use Facebook than any other social media app out there, but rank the app lower than Snapchat and Instagram when comparing how important each platform is to them.
- Keep text posts short in length, with spaces between separate blocks of paragraphs, or better yet, use a list format. A recent study indicates that globally, attention spans are narrowing, and even more for teens, so make sure brand content is bite-sized and interesting enough to get them to stop scrolling and engage with it.
- According to a study recently conducted by Response Media, Generation Z showcase their aspirational selves on Instagram, share real-life moments on Snapchat, get the news on Twitter, and glean information from Facebook.
- Instagram, according to Euclid Analytics, is the most popular app for brand discovery, with 45 percent of teenagers using it to find new products.
- When choosing a platform for shopping recommendations, YouTube, at 24 percent, is Generation Z’s platform of choice followed by Instagram at 17 percent and Facebook closely following at 16 percent.
- While Facebook can be a good way to reach Generation Z, if a brand is really looking to focus their marketing, companies need to focus on Snapchat and Instagram. Snapchat is overwhelmingly U.S. teens’ favorite platform at 45 percent, with Instagram coming in second place, according to the Taking Stock with Teens survey.
- When creating content or ads directed towards Generation Z, these social media trends should be kept in mind.
Optimize the Mobile Experience
- Seventy-five percent of Generation Z, according to a survey by IBM, selected a mobile phone or smartphone as the device they use most.
- According to Google, Gen Z mostly uses smartphones to make online purchases.
- According to another study by Google, the primary reason is convenience.
- Businesses need to optimize for mobile devices. This means using a mobile-optimized website theme, simplifying checkout processes, and creating content with mobile devices in mind, such as using vertical videos.
Promote Entrepreneurial Values
- 72 percent of teens in the United States say they want to start their own business one day, and 61 percent of this group wants to start a business directly out of college.
- Generation Z also doesn’t value formal education as much as other generations do. They look at the astronomical increases in college tuition fees and ask, “For what?”
- According to this source, sixty-four percent of Generation Z plans to pursue a college degree. Compare this to seventy-one percent of Millennials and that indicates a 7 percent downward trend. However, despite the increased wariness of formal education and job security, Generation Z are generally positive about their future. Being better off than their parents is something that more than fifty percent of Gen Z believe and look forward to.
- In order to get a brand to bond with Generation Z, a company should emphasize and market their entrepreneurial qualities such as positivity, self-empowerment, determination, and resilience.
Be Authentic and Ethical About the Product or Service Being Promoted
- Generation Z values authenticity. This cohort does not want to feel intentionally marketed to, instead, they want to feel like they’re part of something. This is why it is important for brands to make deliberate decisions to make their marketing campaigns seem as relatable and true to life as possible. For example, American Eagle, in 2014, eliminated all photo shopping from their advertising and their sales shot up.
- According to a study by The National Retail Federation and IBM, Generation Z is more serious about environmental, political, and socioeconomic problems than any other generation. For these reasons, fifty-five percent of this cohort choose brands that are eco-friendly and socially responsible.
- A Google study discovered that teenagers desire brands to be “a representation of their values, their expectations of themselves and their peers.”
- Generation Z is noted to rally around causes and tend to support brands who do the same.
- Ugmonk is a company that knows how to do this perfectly. They’ve partnered with Rice Bowls to provide a meal for a child in need for every product purchased.
Examples of Companies That Have Successfully Marketed to Teenagers
- When Target launched a new teen clothing line, they identified up-and-coming teen personalities, as well as some well-known teens, instead of just partnering exclusively with one famous teen. The marketing campaign involved teen personalities with follower bases ranging from very few, to many millions. Because Target took this approach, it created a brand association with the diverse interests, cultures and experiences the selected teens represented. The end result was a wider net of relevancy.
- If there's one thing guaranteed to annoy teens, it's brands that try too hard to appeal to them. Clearasil plays on this in its campaign from Droga5, which hinges on the idea that the brand only knows about acne, and knows absolutely nothing about how to be cool to teens.
- A set of 10 comedic ads portray the company's marketers floundering around trying to appeal to teens in various ways: for example, portraying a hot tub pizza party, releasing birds into the wild to appeal to teens' "optimistic" side, staging "dangerous" stunts and one where they stay up till 2AM because they know teens like late nights. There's also a display of "inappropriate images," a silent EDM show, street art, and the brand even tries to talk to teens through other teens.
- But mingled together with the humor of these lame attempts there's a clear product message, about Clearasil working quickly on your acne. What's more, some have an interactive element, asking viewers to troll or appreciate their attempts to be teen-friendly.
- The ads were runners-up in the teen video category for the Knotch Supernormal Awards.