I’ve been kicking around some ideas on what I believe will be the dominant youth marketing themes in 2010. Some of these themes have been evident in youth marketing efforts in 2009, but I believe they’ll become even more pronounced in 2010.
Of course there are many more key themes, but these are just a few that came to me last night when writing this post.
Here are my 10 key themes for youth marketing in 2010:
1. Social Creative
Unless your idea is social by nature, you’re pretty much dead in 2010. Brands need to stop thinking about ‘big ideas’ and think more about being socially creative in how they engage young people. As always, youth are attracted to ideas where they see a new reality or a truth, but now it’s about connecting members of the tribe in new and interesting ways.
Influence will be a key buzzword for youth marketing in 2010. Marketers now understand that everyone online has a platform/amplifier to create his or her own wave on influence. Brands which make members of their communities more influential by way of exclusive content, special rewards etc, will gain traction with young people. It’s all about giving youth status within their tribe.
3. Culture Mashing
The best ideas always mash together two unexpected cultural elements to create a new reality for people. I’m a big believer that ‘culture mashing’ taps into Gen C’s need for surprising spontaneous experiences that occur when they least expect it. Earlier this year we created ‘Cabbieoke’ for Telstra, where we turned the most painful part of a young persons night (the expensive cab ride home) into the best part, by mashing a free cab ride with a random karaoke performance.
Being experimental and taking a few calculated risks every year has to be part of your brand behaviour. Red Bull are the kings of being experimental in how they push the limits of human performance. Their latest idea, Red Bull Stratos is a collaboration with Felix Baumgartner to break the sound barrier while free falling from 120,000 feet. Both Red Bull and Nike both know that not every initiative they put into the market will be successful, but they have a Fail Forward approach and continue to innovate. Try bouncing two different cultural elements together and build off your brand truth.
Young people a huge appetite for intriguing new ideas. Being interesting is important, but being intriguing is critical. Your litmus test for youth is them saying ‘Gees, I’d never thought of that’. Doritos in the US, are continually intriguing American youth through their Hotel 626 and Asylum 626 ideas as part of ‘Snack Strong productions’.
6. Blurred realities
Whether we like it or not, Alternate reality experiences like Nike True City which use mixed reality to provide customer utility are here to stay. Whether it’s actual utility or purely entertainment value like Adidas’ Originals game, we’ll see brands creating mixed reality ideas exponentially in 2010.
7. Empowerment to Generosity
The ‘you can make a difference’ brand bandwagon has been around for over 18 months and it will continue in 2010 as brands look to empower young people through social media platforms. Already this year, we’ve seen One Young World in London and Pepsi’s Hit Refresh campaign, which is off brand, but interesting nonetheless. I believe we’ll see youth brands shift gears to a brand behaviour which is more about ‘generosity’ within the community at a more micro level eg: how you can help out your close friends with the help of a brand.
Young people are the Real Time Generation, living at 100 miles an hour and demanding real time access to information and creativity everywhere they go. Immediacy is a must, they are über connected to everything so demand ideas they can play with and put their own spin on. If it’s not live, it’s pretty much forgotten the next time the Facebook status feed rolls over.
The brands who engage young people in ideas which create mutual value will win in 2010. As I said in one of my conversations with Graham Brown from Mobile Youth, marketers need to stop treating people as the bullseye or target destination for their messages, instead it’s all about treating them as partners in production and modulation of ideas. Youth WANT to be the media, make it easy for them to share your message/brand experience. Collaboration isn’t new, but it will become more mainstream as brands understand the need for youth involvement in all facets of the brand.
Agitation is my personal wish for youth brand behaviour in 2010. Too often in 2009, brands just went with the status quo and didn’t create culture. Apart from BK’s Whopper Sacrifice and Diesel’s Be Stupid, there weren’t too many brands that really agitated culture. Agitation is about starting something, lighting a fire in culture that gets a fresh conversation going. It’s about taking a look at cultures set of rules, and seeing how you can agitate the status quo. The boys at Crispin are masters of agitation.