By Rachel Johnston
Talking to a brick wall.
A few years ago a study showed that media companies were spending over $100 billion on ads targeted at younger generations. After all, profits from our young and impressionable minds (as well as our parent’s wallets) is what companies are all about. A report published in 2012 also highlighted that the average spend per week among teenagers was about $100.
As a young consumer I not only spend my own money but have an influence on my parents spending, as do many children who accompany their parent grocery shopping, when buying the new family car etc.
There’s no denying ads are everywhere. I see them as I wait for the bus, even a short bathroom break has a poster on the back of the door, and marketing is something from which there is no escape. From a young age marketing shapes our lives, from Winnie the Pooh themed diapers to iPhones.
Social media is a popular channel when targeting young audiences. Facebook ads, Twitter posts, Vines, YouTube ads all interrupt my daily internet trawl, and let me tell you if your YouTube ad doesn’t have a skip button and takes away 15 seconds of my time we’re through! I do tend to become very passive aggressive towards interruptions, such as the same Facebook advertisement five times in a row. I thought my message was received, your excessive use of exclamation marks will not make me more inclined to buy detox tea!
However, social media is very successful in grabbing my attention. A pair of cute shoes, a new video game trailer, Beyoncé wearing a cute hat, will all influence me to think about purchasing those products. I know I have bought too many summer hats already but seeing someone looking cute in a shade I don’t have makes me feel that my hat collection is now incomplete.
Peer influence is what compels me the most, seeing a cutie walk by in an even cuter outfit will definitely make me re-evaluate how badly I need to buy a new top. My friends are the biggest factors, the screening process for my formal dress, my hair, and my many other consumer goods there is no one else’s opinion I would trust more.
Facebook is essentially used to keep up with my friends and family, so seeing my friends like Le Tan’s Facebook page makes me laugh at their paler complexions, and also wonder if I too should spend my summer smelling of coconut sunscreen. 13 to 17 year olds make up only 7.1% of Facebook users, with middle aged mothers and fathers swapping recipes, and new parents posting an excessive amount of photos of their new born take up the lead.
Using sites such as Instagram to market products doesn’t necessarily just come from the brands’ accounts, seeing giveaway posts on my daily feed highlights new brands that my oh so cool friends desperately want free stuff from. Admitting that I and most of my generation have the attention span of a goldfish when it comes to most things Vine is the new media platform. 6 seconds of video, popular Viners are reaching millions worldwide. Sponsored posts are made by those with a popular outreach, advertising dating sites, music, and apps read their fans and 6 seconds is all it takes to get their message out there.
Older forms of advertising such as newspapers, and letterbox drops are failing in their ability to attract younger audience. Newspapers are a tradition I suppose and so is buying them every Sunday. Also, I must admit I still read the comics, read the front page and leave it to my parents once breakfast is finished. Radio ads still reach families like mine who don’t like the impending silence and having to actually engage in conversation on car trips. Listening to your favourite tunes on your favourite radio station, listening to your favourite hosts brings joy, ads on the radio don’t make you switch and neither do TV advertisements.
To reach the younger generation ‘thinking out of the square’, or innovation isn’t required. All marketers have to do is follow the crowd like the generations they are trying to capture. Different flows for different social groups, different target markets. Use the facts in front of you and do not dismiss the power of their peers.
(Rachel Johnston is a work experience student and aspiring writer who spent the week with Infodec Communications)