What will drive innovation in youth marketing in 2005?
When finding ways to be creative in 2005, what strategies should marketers avoid? According to Adrian Lai of Renegade Marketing, we should start by banning the term 'Youth Culture' from the entire creative process because it is too large a segment to generalise the DJs, skateboarders, videogamers, mall-rats, and wannabe musicians that make up youth culture.
According to Renegade, to effectively market to the so-called "youth culture" (of which we are no longer to speak as a whole) the culture itself needs to be broken up into smaller components so that companies can truly understand what need their products fulfil for each particular niche in the culture.
Innovation driver So what is most likely to drive youth marketing innovation in 2005? "Technology - especially gadgets - marketed specifically for youth will drive innovation in 2005," said Lai. Some recent examples of this include the new Gap Kids Hoodio jacket, which includes speakers sewn into the hood, and a new collaboration between Apple, Incase, and DC Shoes to create a laptop & skateboard holder backpack.
Marketers can also expect to notice a continuing shift from print and commercials to non-traditional campaigns using mobile phones, the internet, and other forms of online communication to a greater degree than before. Examples include the Conqwest treasure hunt game, which was created for high-schoolers to find "Semacodes" (a type of bar code), photograph them with their camera phones, and send them in to HQ for points. The winning school gets a US$5000 cheque from Qwest.
"We've already noticed that advertising dollars are increasingly flowing into interactive channels. In 2005 interactive will be given a more important role in the integrated experience," explained Lai.
Studios to win Moreover, according to Renegade, the industries that are likely to produce the most effective advertising in this category are the ones who bypass the traditional ad agency and go directly to the creative boutiques. The agencies that will produce the most effective advertising in this category are the ones constantly working with fresh designers, artists, producers, and directors.
Particularly in youth marketing, we are told we can expect the ongoing rise of small production shops and design studios. Currently, agencies are already outsourcing creative execution to these boutiques and freelancers. Renegade expects to see these niche boutiques having a larger role in branding and strategy, as opposed to an execution-only role, because the best way to create a campaign that understands the consumer is to give the job to an agency whose own people fit the target profile. Employees at these agencies can be seen living "youth culture" instead of trying to understand it in order to market to it. They stand a good chance of making an emotional connection.
Best strategies Looking at which marketing strategies will be most effective for youth marketing this year, targeting the influencers and word of mouth may prove best, mainly because - compared to other demographic markets - the youth audience places more importance on mass popularity. Is someone cool, or not? Are you in, or are you out? And, usually, by the time things that are "in" have reached the marketers, they're already "out".
Which technologies are likely to be most effective in reaching this demographic? First, marketers might look to reinforcing the brand experience instead of relying on superficial messaging. New technologies should not be thought of as another media where a message can be placed, but rather as additional stewards for an impacting overall brand experience. For example, pop-up ads on the internet can generate massive impression numbers but they are often not so effective in generating a positive impression of the brand.
Internet remains king Despite this view, Renegade points out that the internet can still be a very powerful medium as an interactive retail space, and as a piece of the puzzle of a larger brand story. Lai concluded: "With the new youth culture being more connected than ever, the internet is where the new advertising revolution is going to take place in 2005."