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The Changing Brand Story – from Aspiration to Self-actualisation

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The Changing Brand Story – from Aspiration to Self-actualisation

The attractive and elusive youth TG accounts for more than 60 per cent of consumers. Given the easy access to media and information today, a generation of young consumers is created that is ready to buy, but tough to convince.

Speaking at the first Youth Marketing Summit, Jeroen Boschma, Chairman, Gadfly, explained that the Einstein generation is focussed less on the message of the brand, and more on its essence. He recalled, “When I was young, it was very easy to sell things to the youth. We lived on another planet, where we talked differently and were interested in doing our own things. For a marketer to show that they ‘understood’ youth, all they had to do was sell things.”

Elaborating further, he said, “It was as simple as ‘those guys like the same music I do, I'll buy their brand’ or ‘those guys talk the way I talk, I'll buy their brand’. But since then, things have been changing. The Einstein generation, as I call it, were born with a lot of familiarity with technology, which changed the way young people are. Today, they don't live on another planet. They live on this world, where we do and they understand it better than we do, because they are the digital natives and they have access to so much more information than we did, or do.”

According to Boschma, the trajectory of the youth and their wants has been undergoing a change. In the 70’s, the narrative was of belonging and tribal affiliation. A sense of belonging was the key to building a brand. Then, the notion became of ‘esteem’. From wanting to be part of a large group of similar people, the focus shifted to the individual. Everyone had to be a superstar, and brands existed to help fulfil that aspiration. But brands were still above the individual and spoke down to them.

The narrative has shifted again. Boschma argued that the paradigm of the day was self-actualisation. As people were more empowered and confident of their lives, the drive was not to be a superstar, but to be themselves. In this context, the question brands need to answer is, how do they fit into the life of the youth?

“The DNA of a brand is important now. There is a story that they have to tell, and people have to move from liking and buying the brand, to loving and embracing it completely. That's why some of the best brand stories are built around person. It's a simplified story, of the one man who controls every aspect of the brand. Of course that's not true, but it's a compelling thought, and it brings brands to an almost religious level of discourse,” Boschma concluded.

Boschma was speaking at the e4m Youth Marketing Summit on January 28, 2011 in New Delhi. The event was presented by UTV Bindaas and powered by Mudra Concrea in association with Tuborg.

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