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Last week, we attended Voxburner’s fifth annual Youth Marketing Strategy event. The two-day conference lifted the lid on how best to communicate and interact with this notoriously tricky mindset.
The event featured a spectacular range of presentations and panel discussions from youth brands, industry experts and of course, young people themselves. The speakers touched on youth ranging from young children all the way to young adulthood. From youth trends, to their media usage, there was a plethora of useful insights and observations. Below are our key learnings from YMS 2015:
Goodie Two Shoes
The youth of today differ dramatically from their rebellious and hedonistic Gen X predecessors. Forget sex, drugs and rock n roll, it’s all about family, friends and community. They prioritise happiness above all else, but derive much of it through altruism. Bettering themselves is also high up the agenda. Learning new skills, travelling, expanding horizons; these are the sorts of things that feature on a typical Millennial bucket list.
I Did It My Way
Young people are also characterised by a burning independence. They don’t believe in traditional power structures; they’d rather explore their own ideas and solutions than follow the same well-trodden path just because it’s there. This is a generation of entrepreneurs. Motivation comes from within; these individuals are self-confident and define success by their own criteria.
Nonetheless, they are realists. The teens of the recession have learned to be cautious, and are hyper-aware of the challenges they face as they enter adulthood. As a result they seek guidance, support and understanding.
Living, Breathing Digital
It’s a cliché because it’s true: digital permeates everything young people do. They are constantly connected, indeed it was suggested that FOBO (fear of being offline) is the new FOMO (fear of missing out). Today’s kids do not distinguish between the online world and offline; they inhabit a blend of the two, seamlessly moving from one to the other. Increasingly however, the primary portal into the digital realm is the smartphone, so when thinking youth, think mobile first.
Out Of Time
Don’t assume that just because they’re young, these people aren’t busy. They have no spare time for brands that don’t get it right. We must work hard to earn their engagement.
Another outcome of their fast-paced, hectic lives is that they expect immediacy, so don’t make the mistake of making them wait.
Cry Me A River
Cat gifs are yesterday’s news. It’s all about emotional content now, indeed emotional or moving videos are twice as likely to be shared. Brands should show a human side in their marketing and any other interaction with young audiences.
Sharing Isn’t Always Caring
Social media may be their natural habitat, but young digital natives aren’t sharing everything with free abandon. They make well-reasoned decisions about what make public and what to hold back. Similarly, they are not against data usage on principle, but require a good reason and a clear benefit before opening up completely to brands.
Much like with real life relationships, young consumers are looking for certain characteristics in brands. Most important it seems, is authenticity. Brands that try too hard to be ‘cool’ will seriously miss the mark, and no brand wants to be the Dad at the disco. Likewise, forcing your way into a trending topic will fall flat if there is no obvious reason to associate with it. Brands must be true to themselves and stay relevant rather than jumping on every popular meme.
And whilst real-life peers can get away with the ups and downs that make us human, inconsistency will not be tolerated in a brand relationship. Once the right tone has been set, commit to that persona across all channels and points of contact.
It was Mumsnet’s Carrie Longton who dispensed this illuminating insight: young people are extremely brand loyal, until they’re not. Young people can change their minds at the drop of a hat so it’s crucial to remain relevant to them.
With this in mind, the learning we end with is by far the most important, and commonly cited tip: really and truly listen to young people. It’s the only way to keep up!