10 Youth marketing themes in 2010

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.

2. Influence

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.

4.   Experimental

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.

5. Intrigue

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.

8.   NOW-ism

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.

9. Collaboration

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.

10. Agitation

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.

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10 Trends of the Real Time Generation/iGeneration

A few hours ago, the One Young World forum kicked off in London, organised/founded by my old boss and good mate David Jones, CEO of Havas and Euro RSCG Worldwide.  It’s a fantastic initiative, a kind of Davos for young people – bringing together over 1,000 under 25yr olds to work on solutions to some of the worlds biggest problems. Whilst perusing the one young world site I came across a great post from trend guru Marian Salzman whom I used to work with when I was a junior planner running around Sydney.  There’s alot of stuff she covers which relate closely to Gen C which I often write about. It also ties into an article about the iGeneration’s need for ‘instantaneous’ information  I posted recently. Here are her thoughts on some of the trends impacting 20 somethings globally sourced from a Global Youth Study she conducted in the lead up to OYW.  She also has a great post on the Real Time Generation.  There’s some good stuff here:

Herewith, are Marians top 10 trends of 20-somethings:

1. Real-time expectations

Virtually no one in his or her 20s in a developed country has known life without instant communication. Twenty-somethings connect with friends in real time — no waiting for snail mail or even e-mail. They get the latest news (whether world events or their friends’ status) as it happens, with a live feed of texts, tweets and Facebook updates from where it’s happening. Whenever they need information, it’s online in abundance. Reference books? What are those?

2. More intensely local lives

A paradox of borderless real-time technology is the way it reinforces local connections. With mobile devices, young adults make plans on the fly. With location-based apps on their phones, they find friends who happen to be nearby and get alerts from companies in the vicinity offering deals. Local is the new global, as I explained in my most recent post here, and nowhere is that more true than among 20-somethings.

3. Radical transparency

Twenty-somethings grew up with reality TV and radical celebrity culture — media poking into every corner of people’s lives, from Hollywood A-listers to Nadya Suleman, Tareq and Michaele Salahi, and Richard “Balloon Boy’s Dad” Heene. They’ve lived their whole lives in a culture of information “leaks” at the highest level, a world where even the great confess mistakes and show emotion to millions. They constantly use technologies that let them bare all — sometimes literally — to their friends. They’re aware that nothing online is confidential, but so what? This generation is more transparent about its thoughts, feelings and actions than any generation before it.

4. Expecting cheap or free everything

Globalization has made many essentials very cheap. Twenty-somethings can fill their stomachs and clothe themselves at unbelievably low cost. Budget air travel is normal. The Internet brings music, software, TV shows and all sorts of content for free. One of the biggest, most powerful brands on the planet, Google, offers a huge range of powerful services at no cost to the user.

5. Demanding entertainment

In some parts of the world, particularly the West, entertainment has long been an essential part of education. Young adults grew up with Sesame Street and edutainment based on fun, interactive graphics in the classroom and museums, an approach that has been endorsed by researchers. Even in places where more traditional education models prevail, fun and games have become a staple activity of young people. In the recent Global Youth Study, 59 percent of respondents said they regularly play video or computer games in their spare time; gaming is the second-most popular activity after socializing.

6. Worrying about the planet

Twenty-somethings came of age amid increasingly troubling reports about what’s going wrong with the planet. Inconvenient truths about climate change, disappearing species, habitat destruction and water shortages have been daily fare for them. In the survey, 64 percent of respondents saw climate change affecting them seriously, and 82 percent saw it affecting future generations seriously; 64 percent said only immediate radical changes can prevent the most serious impacts of climate change.

7. Seeing luxuries as standard

The basic tools of 20-something life are actually luxuries by historical standards. Whether they pay for them themselves or have help from their parents, most young adults in developed countries have:

⢠A smartphone costing well above $100, plus monthly fees
⢠A computer costing at least $300, with monthly broadband fees on top
⢠A wide-screen TV costing at least $300, plus cable or satellite fees
⢠Higher education as far as they can go

8. Pro-business, anti-multinational stance

Today’s 20-somethings don’t share the countercultural ideologies that fired up young baby boomers. They were raised in an environment in which free markets were revered and delivered plenty of consumer goodies. People in their 20s aren’t anti-business; some of them even founded megabrands (Google again). But they aren’t so fond of multinational corporations. In the survey, two-thirds of respondents said global corporations have too much power. But instead of trying to take down corporate giants by force like earlier generations did, now 20-somethings aspire to out-business them.

9. Regulate the heck out of media bias

Media in 2010 is vastly bigger than it was in 2000. Increasingly diverse news sources are available to anyone, anywhere, anytime. No wonder 70 percent of survey respondents get their news over the Internet. All this choice, plus growing educational levels and media savvy, makes 20-somethings acutely aware of media bias; 70 percent of respondents said all news media should be regulated so that they’re clearly independent of state and corporate bias.

10. Naturally Me but aspiring to We

Young adults are used to self-expression, self-esteem, personal computers, personal profiles, personalized settings and personal branding. Whether the culture is highly individualistic (e.g., the United States) or more collectivist (e.g., China), businesses have thrived by enabling people to express themselves, to be more Me. Culturally and commercially, 20-somethings have been encouraged to be more selfish than their predecessors. Yet they’re all too aware that everyone pursuing selfish interests creates planetary problems. Members of this generation are caught between the impulse to do their own thing and the desire to do the right thing together. Or as the pithy observation has it, “Everybody wants to save the earth; nobody wants to help Mom do the dishes.”

Sydney Youth: Interview #1 with Sally

SallyTHis is my first of a series of mini interviews with cool kids in Sydney. They could come from anywhere, any background, any job, they just have to have their finger on the pulse.
Meet Sally, a 21yr old fashionista living in Sydney’s East and working as a grad in the communications industry. She is the centre of her collective and is always one step ahead. Here’s a few thoughts on what makes her tick

What do you stand for?

Sally is someone who lives for adventure, is bored of the now and wants to be a part of the future. I am out there, loud and live for those poignant moments in time that make you stop and appreciate just how great life is.

Where are you heading?

Hopefully for success! This means taking step by step up the ladder, in relation to my job in advertising, love and travel, whereby improving every aspect of my life until I reach the top of the ladder and know that I am fully fulfilled. Know that I have pushed myself beyond my own expectations, taken risks and taken that one final step beyond the ladder!

Who are you influenced by?

Friends… They are my ROCK and ROCK my social calendar, thoughts, feelings and moods. They lift me up and carry me through the bad and good times.

Describe your tribe?

My tribe is my second family. They are constantly around me, influence me and always have something to say about anything going on in my life (whether I want to hear it or not).

What’s big in Sydney youth culture right now?

iPhone. It is the must have. It is the new accessory. A device that has transformed human behaviour, as humans have really become cyborgs. It not only makes life easier by navigating where I move, but chooses restaurants for me and translates languages. It is my touch point to anyone in the world, through Facebook and twitter. Youth have become reliant on the iPhone and instead of Descartes “ I think and therefore I am”, we now exist because we“ link and therefore I am”.

Your most loved brand and why?

Apple. It really gets me! I want the next… the newest. Their devices are always changing and apple teases me constantly with edgy, quirky and fresh advertising that puts them on a silver platter. So, so close that I can taste it and just have to indulge in the newest product to the market!

One thing brands should know about you?

I want brands that create my avatar…the image that represents me, which can be seen and judged by the people around me!

‘Subversive’ vs ‘Do Good’ Youth Marketing

There seems to be two schools of thought for how brands engage with youth in the social media space. On the one hand you’ve got the ‘Subversive’ movement, on the other the ‘Do Good’ marketing movement. Both can be effective for different youth brands. ‘Subversive’ communications are typically used for niche brands (like Zoo York, BAPE etc) and are aimed at specific youth subcultures (skaters), they are all about disrupting the status quo and rebelling against the systems around them. It’s classic ‘outlaw’ archetype behaviour. ZY ‘Spread the word’ was a good example as was Air Force One stunt. On the other hand you’ve got the ‘DO Good/Feel Good ‘ marketing which is far more mainstream and taps into more mainstream behaviour through entertainment. The Fiat Eco drive tool is a great example of this, it’s all about talking to Gen Y and giving them something of utility and making them feel good about their contribution to culture. At the end of the day, I reckon effective youth communications is about creating ‘cultural capital’ – stuff for them to talk about, so if you’re creating talk value within a interesting brand framework…you’re on track

Generation C- The Connected Collective

Hi everyone…my name is Dan Pankraz and I’m a Strategic Planner based in Sydney with a keen interest in the youth space. Here is a recent presentation I put together on Generation C- the connected collective. It’s all about how social media has given rise to a new type of consumer and the implications for marketers trying to connect with this crowd. Check it out