When I went to uni I learnt about the 7P’s of marketing; Product, price, place, promotion, people, process & physical evidence. The last few years, marketing to youth has changed. Today, it’s less about marketing ‘to’ youth, and more about marketing ‘with’ youth. Our role as marketers is to initiate and manage the conversations happening in and around brands. It’s about creating behaviour through engagement and influence.
I’ve put together my 7P’s which I believe are important things for youth marketers to consider when developing their brand and communications strategies:
Youth today expect brands to have a strong provocative point of view on culture. Marketing in the middle is to be avoided at all costs, as youth detest brands that are vanilla. The old adage of ‘stand for nothing, fall for everything’ is definitely relevant. Brands like Axe, Burger King, the new Levi’s campaign, Diesel are all brands which have a strong cultural position. You’re either with them or against them and that’s why the create heat and energy.
Clearly, we are well into the age of participation. Every youth marketer needs to think about how they design social experiences which involve youth, treating them as partners in production, rather than a destination point for messages. Whether it’s a ‘Digital Fling’ (a quick fleeting experience or a entertaining content) with the Passive Massive or deeper engagement with Ambassadors, you need to work out how you can involve youth in the brand narrative and add value to their interaction. Designing ideas for participation is all about tapping into the power of social connection.
I believe the broader construct of ‘play’ is already heavily influencing brand behaviour. Look at the exponential growth of gaming platforms and now social games. Brands need to think of the interactions they have with youth in terms of a GAME. They need to encourage and create game play at all levels. It’s far more about your brands game, than your brands story. Nike Grid is a great example of this play fuelling discovery.
The mobile and tablet are the focus screens for youth. If mobile marketing isn’t part of your comms strategy, you’re missing the beat. Every communication experience you create has to be portable. Whether it be creating content that builds and spreads via mobile or useful utilities which help your daily, life, the portability of an idea is as important as the scale of it.
Your brands purpose is far more important than your positioning. Youth swarm towards brands or product that help them connect with each other as well as help give their lifestyles greater purpose. Think about your brands fight or crusade, not just how it’s different functionally. Converse’s purpose is all about engaging people who live creatively and rebelliously and everything they do in terms of music culture, urban engagement supports this purpose.
If it’s not worth sharing, it’s not worth doing. Brands have to develop propagation strategies and think about designing ideas which have inherent social interfaces. They need to think about which tribes and fan cultures can be identified to help propagate the idea as well as which platforms are best suited to carry the idea. Remember young people’s social status is defined by what and how often they ‘share’.
Youth brands have to be media positive, not media neutral. Instead of thinking about filling media channels, think about how you can create media yourself, turning products themselves into the marketing. Apple is the king of doing this. Linking back to propagation, think about how you can turn youth into your main media channel to share your message.
It sounds obvious, but being personal and intimate within the social context is critical. Brands that help you better tell your own brand story win. The Intel ‘Museum of Me’ exhibition is a perfect example of a Facebook engagement idea which taps into people’s need to see their personal story brought to life in pictures, and then share that with the world.