by David Baker, , Op-Ed Contributor, May 4, 2016
Like the teen generations that came before them, today’s teens are concerned about appearances, image and their place in the social caste system of their particular worlds. At the same time, the world these digital natives live in changes rapidly, shaping them into a new generation.
This shifting mentality raises questions about how and where to reach the lucrative teenage consumer market in a highly fragmented mobile social universe. Tactics that worked with the MTV generation won’t resonate today.
The sooner companies get to know this generation, the better.
Marketing to Digital Teens
They are accustomed to high-tech and multiple information sources, with messages bombarding them from all sides. They have never lived without the Internet. The average teen today has three key characteristics: instant gratification, success as a given, and liberal social values.
Generation Z teens have $43 billion in spending power and influence an additional $600 billion of family spending.
Kids now influence more than 70% of family food choices in general, and 80% to 90% of items bought for them.
Engaging Digital Teens
Teens aren’t very interested in engaging with brands unless they’re providing value at the time of engagement. They are very entrepreneurial, more likely to launch their own business than take an entry-level job. This generation is known for “side gigs.” They are highly influenced by the dominant platforms of today.
You’ll find the most success by enabling this cohort and understanding they are continually looking for outlets to promote their content, be it on YouTube or Instagram.
Communicating with Digital Teens
Brands will have difficulty making 1:1 connections with teens. Teens can and will be influenced by celebrity and content, but this generation is far more diverse in its use of media. Social and content platforms and brands will be better served in enabling this generation, versus trying to talk to them like other generations.
Give them a voice, and they will be the best advocates and most far-reaching ambassadors of your brand to their own generation.
Persuading Digital Teens to Buy
The best way to describe buying patterns of teens is to think of them in terms of “shopping packs.” They shop in groups. Males and females have similar traits, but they differ in many ways in terms of shopping attitudes.
For instance, boys tend to buy brands, while girls buy styles. Boys tend to rely on displays to drive their style choices, while girls mix and match to create desired looks influenced by school, TV, magazines or celebrity websites.
Not surprisingly, boys are more task-oriented in their shopping, whereby girls are more impulse-driven and influenced by in-store/location-based advertising, traits that extend into adulthood.
To influence this generation, mass media diffused through social platforms is an influence, as are celebrity endorsements, but marketers must be careful. Without adequate knowledge of the types of tribes, you can miss badly with mass media.
Much like Millennials, Digital Teens can filter out inauthentic messages from brands. The value exchange must be at an all-time high and must evolve as they do.