Being one of the largest population cohorts, the youth (15-24 years) are the new rage when it comes to marketing intelligence. With an aversion to blatant advertising and easy access to technology, this is a generation that comprises intelligent consumers with increasing disposable income. Today’s educated, tech savvy and hyper connected youth make up an extremely demanding consumer base. When devising a marketing strategy, there are certain things marketers cannot ignore. This generation of youngsters is cynical, choosy and can spot a hard-sell from a mile away. Getting them interested means a brand needs to speak with them, rather than to them.
They live in an overcrowded and over stimulated world that is proliferated by numerous brand choices. With word of mouth being the most effective purchase decision influencer amongst these young consumers, it is no surprise that they document their consumption decisions explicitly on social media. This is a generation that conducts extensive research, consult each other frequently, critique constantly and voice their opinions in an instant.
Brands need to be engaging, authentic and relevant
At a fundamental level, to be successful in the youth segment, brands must do one of two things; make young people’s lives easier or more exciting. But how does a brand stand out in the overrun competitive battlefield, cut through the white noise and earn their customer’s loyalty? The key here is for brands to not be passive, but take an active stand to connect to this audience.
In addition to creativity and intelligence, today’s youth prize transparency and authenticity as the most prized brand attributes. They appreciate brands that are not only useful to them but can emotionally connect with them in an authentic way.
For a brand to make itself relevant, it needs to be speak about stuff that their young audience is currently speaking about, and speak about it unabashed. Today’s youth are more interested in brands which have a strong opinion on everything that pertains to them versus brands that just offer them superficial benefits.
Content is the king; Engagement is the mantra
Brands need to add value and gain consumer trust in order to ensure engagement, irrespective of the channel. Given that we are in the digital age means that content needs to be in the right place at the right time to the right audience. In order for it to grab the youth’s short attention span, it needs to come from an authentic place and really add something.A brand with something good and meaningful to say in language that the youth can understand, will be heard.With a generation that believes in user generated content over company websites and customer opinions over expert opinions, content put forth by a brand needs to be so engaging that it feeds the youth’s incessant need to share it with their peers.
To cut through the clutter, the packaging of the content is as important as the narrative itself; right from creative videos and interesting podcasts to visually attractive representations of data such as infographics. Repurposing content to suit the channel and conversation thread is the key here. Content should be created in a way that it is easily deployable, customizable and shareable.
For instance, Fastrack entered the long form video space, with an interactive video microsite, called Keep Trippin’ (http://fastrack.in/keeptrippin/). The micro site entertains its audience with a music video and original soundtrack, engages them by making the video interactive, informs them by showcasing the brand’s latest products and delivers value to them by allowing users to click and buy any product in the video instantly. The video was launched on all the brand’s social media platforms and created in a way that it can be viewed across devices.
YouTube being one of the most successful youth brands today only reaffirms the importance of storytelling through content in a social and digital context. Something that has become increasingly important in the past year. There is an opportunity for brands to become publishers of premium social and digital content designed not only to tell their brand story, but also to entertain and engage the audience too.
Brands that are mobile-enabled are already leading the way in connecting with a youth audience throughout their daily touch points, and will continue to do so with further mobile innovation and integration.Real-time response via social media has changed brands' relationships with storytelling: nowadays, marketers need to keep in mind, that the stories that are passed around on social media about a brand can be even more powerful in shaping mainstream perceptions than the brand's own communications.
Fads and trends in the youth market may come and go, so it is essential for brands to be one step ahead every time and have their finger on the pulse no matter what. Capture this segment’s interest and they’ll be your ideal customer, spreading your message like wildfire amongst their peers whilst being fiercely loyal to your brand.
The author is Hemal Panchamia, Marketing Head, Fastrack, Titan Company Limited