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Global Youth Marketing Forum: Brands must talk with the youth not at them

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Global Youth Marketing Forum: Brands must talk with the youth not at them

Youth is all about wanting to explore, dream and discover, and that is the theme of the two-day Global Youth Marketing Forum, being held in Mumbai on February 3-4. The youth of 21st century India is not the youth of the 1960’s, they are far more aggressive and believe in instant gratification, hence marketers need to find newer ways of reaching out to them. It is all about the goodwill of the brand so that the consumer may feel that the brand is talking with the youth and not at them.

The event commenced with a keynote address by Suhel Seth, CEO, Counselage India, and Pradeep Shrivastava, CMO, Idea Cellular.

Youthfulness is not about age alone

Seth highlighted that in order to understand the youth one needed to understand the surroundings, the issues that concerned them, and their frustrations. He stressed that is was also important for marketers to understand the political linguistics of the country and how it was affecting the youth.

Seth noted, “Marketing is about relationships, and what better way to build the relationship than by marketing it to the youth. Today’s youth are growing older much quicker than the youth of our times. Marketers should understand that there can be no one India, just as there is no one United States of America. Diversity is actually about the social issues surrounding the youth. If you want to understand the youth, you have to understand their frustrations and fears, you have to feel youthful. You have to hang around where the youth hang around, that is, where they play sports, cinema halls, cafeterias, and even college campuses.”

He further said, “My biggest concern is that we do not understand the political situation, the media explosion, the frustrations of the youth and their fears. Marketing is about reality, and these are real issues surrounding our youth. I believe India has not yet touched the surface of youth marketing. We’ve got to understand that youth changes every second, and it is the surrounding events that change them, hence we need to stalk that passion, magnify their attention. We have to invade their mindset and hearts.

You will need to reinvent yourself and not your consumers as every national and international event affects them.”

Idea’s Pradeep Shrivastava in his address played the advertisements of Vodafone, Idea Gang and Yahoo! as interesting ways of attracting the youth, engaging them with the brand and even reaching out to a different segment altogether.

Shrivastava observed, “Study shows that the youth prefer the Internet over television, and mobile is going to become the only way the Internet is going to be accessed. We need to understand what the youth are seeking today, what are they consuming and what they wish to do. You need a complete eco-system to reach out to the youth today, though there is still so much to be done to reach out to them.”

The H Factor

The most critical aspect of any given situation is the implementation of that plan – the H Factor. How do we market our brand to the youth, how do we get all the above mentioned talks into action?

Session one of the Global Youth Marketing Forum was chaired by Harrish M Bhatia, COO, My FM; Anurag Batra, Editor-in-Chief and Chairman, exchange4media; Prasad Narasimhan, CMO, Virgin Mobile India; and Murugavel Janakiraman, Founder and CEO,

My FM’s Bhatia noted, “We use only 10 per cent of our brains, but ironically, most people don’t think at all, they just play the same old tape again and again and there is nothing new coming out of it. If you want better solutions to your current problems, you’ve got to challenge yourself. Whatever it is you want to achieve, you must make an image out of it, and by doing this you are changing your thinking. There has to be a burning desire to achieve what you want, therefore, you change your beliefs, when you change your expectations you change your attitude, therefore, you change your behaviour. When you change your behaviour, you change your performance, which ultimately changes your life. 95 per cent of the time your mind gets negative images that prevent you from achieving this. Therefore, you can explore, dream and discover by using your subconscious mind.”

Batra spoke about how the youth was connecting to the media and the need to revisit their marketing strategy to get the youth hooked. He said, “Today, we are living in interesting times, in a new era altogether. I would call this generation, the lean forward generation. Young people are interested in engagement and not space. Today, the youth are interested in five things that marketers can play on. These are – fame, entrepreneurship, becoming rich, being independent, and being someone who can make a difference. What marketers need to do is create hybrid platforms. Today, the youth itself are the media, it is all about content again. Segmentation is irrelevant and re-aggregation is important today.”

Narasimhan stated, “The youth are changing, therefore, we also need to change. Television is still an effective medium and will continue to be so, at least for another 10 years. We need to have enthusiastic marketing of the brand, rather than put more money on advertising. We have to continue to find a balance, where the engagement comes first and push later. A good advertisement works on the basis of a good idea. It is only a refreshingly original idea that gets attention from the youth today.”

Janakiraman was of the opinion that, “The youth wants interaction and entertainment from the brand and Internet is the only medium that allows two-way communication. Young people today want to be able to share their views and they refuse to be just passive bystanders. If you are looking at targeting the Internet users, then make the youth your co-creator. They always have an opinion, therefore, give them a forum to speak. The youth today are not only unforgiving but also lack loyalty to the brand, therefore, marketers should watch what the youth are really interested in and their whereabouts.”


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