David Knox, Brand Manager Walmart team at P&G is a specialist in marketing to teens. Speaking at the IEG annual sponsorship conference, David presented a picture of Youth in the US and what smart marketers are doing to connect with this increasingly elusive demographic. The slides of his presentation are up on Slideshare.
Like our philosophy that urges brands to grow young, Dave and P&G have come to realize that Youth is not a demographic anymore, but a mindset. He believes that Generation Y is not an isolated demographic, but a group that can give marketers and advertisers a glimpse of how others will behave in the future.
Youth in America believe that stress is a way of life today. But they are optimistic about the future. Most believe that they can personally achieve the American Dream, of being simply happy, no matter what they do.
There is a we-volution taking place at the moment. With places like services like Kiva and Prosper leading the social lending change. Other examples of this phenomenon are Wikipedia, Yahoo Answers and UK based MyFootballclub, where 50,000 fans have come together to create a football club. Another example of this revolution is the community centred online apparel store Threadless, where anyone can submit a design or an idea, which is voted for by visitors of the site. Creators of the selected design then get a share of the sales.
For most young people lives have become completely digital. Their computer is the No 1 item they cannot live without. And they live a connected life, either through their computer or their mobile phone.
Being socially conscious is on the rise among the young. And brands like Product(Red) and
Innocent are examples of brands that operate in this space.Media for the young mindset is everything around them. With community, self expression and personalisation being the key.
Marketing to youth according to Dave is all about entertainment, authenticity, giving up control, recalibrating marketers tolerance to risk and using the power of networks.
Jones Soda is a good example of a brand that has given up control, by letting users create their own bottle labels.
One of the biggest shifts that’s part of Dave’s presentation is the role of companies that own and manage these brands. He says companies need to think like Venture Capitalists, who bet on many ideas and are willing to have a blockbuster or two and many failures.
Of the other examples he quotes are P&Gs own, BeingGirl portal that’s now operational in 27 countries. Youth travel site STA Travel . Tween Fiction series MacKenzie Blue, that was created by a buzz marketing group for Harper Collins. Nike’s work with graffiti artists and their ID store.