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Marketing is ineffably tied to the social parameters surrounding the consumer. In order to effectively appeal to the teens as consumers of the National Geographic Society’s (NGS) magazine and TV shows, one needs to understand the teens. Understanding this set of group entails realizing their preferred leisure activities, their way of reasoning in selecting choices, their peer loyalties, the influencers in their lives and the environment they grow up in.
Key Teen Influencers
Studies have shown that human beings naturally conform to groups and group ideologies. This general trend trickles down to the products we buy, people we associate with, groups we identify with and certainly places we live in whether by choice or otherwise. An experimental study conducted by Venkatesan shows that individuals are highly influenced by peer pressure. The study showed that individuals were easily conformed to buy certain products because other members of the same group had the said product.
Teens have a tendency to listen to their own peers in matters that concern their own lives. This is where influence comes in from the most outspoken of group members. Influencers by definition are those members of a team who tend to have originality of ideas and are looked upon by group members to provide insight and direction in any matter of choice. Influencers are argumentative and their points of view are often radical and convincing.
Many times influencers are mostly people who are admired in terms of how they dress, how they speak and what they say, where they go and what they do. There are different categories of influencers that teens would normally listen to. Such influencers include: parents, relatives, fellow peers, celebrities, etc.
Parents or guardians as influencers
At the age of 13, most teens look up to parents for guidance and modeling. The onset of self discovery for teens at this period means that they are looking for people to emulate and their most immediate model is their parents or guardians. At this age, when asked what they would like to be when they grow up, a large number would quote their parents or guards profession and say they would like to be as such. Ages 13 to 15 tend to trust their parent’s judgment on many matters and even with differing points of view a little conviction from the parent or guardian often sways their point of view to that of the parent’s.
The trend here is that the likelihood of purchasing anything will be guided by mostly what the parent or guardian will recommend. Family trips are often and unanimously agreed to when suggested by the parent among early teens. Early teens tend to believe that their mother or father knows best and therefore anything he or she suggests is better.
Therefore while developing a marketing strategy one needs to target parents as key influencers among early teens. Their input in most of the decisions by thirteen and fourteen year olds is key. Parents may not directly offer decisions but they may come up with a range of choices and ask their teen sons and or daughters to choose from. A parent may say to her child “Son, do you want to go to the movies with me or do you want to stay at home with nana while I have all the fun to myself?” Chances are that the child will likely go with the parent to the movies because of how the parent presents the preferred choice of going to the movies.
Relatives as Influencers
As teens grow older in ages 15 years and above, the dependence on their parents to decide for them diminishes as they slowly drift away into personal space and self discovery. At this point they only relate with their parents at a point of consultation. They begin to outsource for advice and their most immediate circle is their relatives. Whether their parents’/guardians’ siblings, their cousins, in-laws or grandparents teens at this age tend to rely on their different point of view especially when it differs with their parent’s or guardian’s. Once again they relate with their relatives at a consultation level. They will likely listen to what the relatives have to say and then blend their decisions with the advice from their relatives. Statements such as “when I was your age I used to…” are commonplace and teens rely on this guidance of thought to deduce decisions based on their present needs. The psychological need for the teen at this point is the idea that if it has been done before then it must be okay.
Celebrities as influencers
This is the most influential of all groups among teens. Whether these are celebrities from the music or movie industry, sports personalities, educational genius or self-accomplished persons, television presenters, or political gurus they have the same overwhelming influence over the teens who admire them. Music concerts are flocked by teens who are most likely to purchase the kind of lingerie worn by their celebrity. This means that at any point a teen would go to their parent or guardian and ask to be bought a certain fashion or a certain instrument not because it’s what they want but because they saw it with someone they admire. Even some train in certain professions just because they have always wanted to be like their celebrities.
This is an avenue of great marketing ideas. In understanding the potential in celebrities and incorporating them in marketing goes a long way in developing and sustaining a brand. Many advertisements that sell are those that are contracted by celebrities. A teen will most likely buy a deodorant because the bottle has a picture of Lady Gaga (a music celebrity) or has been advertised on TV by the celebrity.
Fellow Peers as influencers
This is the group that ties it all together. Their experiences, their choices, their desires, their faults, their ambitions and aspirations are in varied ways quite similar. They all want to play games, go to the movies, own this kind of instrument or buy that kind of clothing or shoe. Wherever they draw their inspiration from, teens tend to converge together before making a final decision and ‘check’ with their peers whether they have it or it is ‘cool’ to have it. This unction is based on the necessity to self-projection and the need to be significant and to be seen to fit within a group. Peer pressure is know to have significant push on the members of a group to the point where categorization of individuals in the society is dependent on the group or class one associates with. Research done by David McDowell and Ross show that teens are resistant to parents who wish to impose their social rules on them and that these teens perform very poorly.
Understanding 13- 17 year olds: Perspective of Influence
Independence of Thought Process
The adolescent prefer to have a say in what they want and how they want it. It is impossible to force them on things if you wish to win them. They prefer to have a say in anything as opposed to have things prescribed to them. In order to influence the teens one needs to imagine themselves in the shoes of the teen and viewing things from their perspectives.
The young adult is capable of creativity. Any marketing research on teens is centered on teens as respondents. It follows therefore that an effective marketing strategy in these age groups should have the teens as part of the product creation. Any company that tailor-makes products for different age groups or gender will definitely consult experts in those clients. Therefore to create an products targeting the teens, it is important to involve them in the process of consultation in order to usurp and anticipate the original client needs as they develop in the society.
Identity in product selection
This is a set of individuals whose greatest need is that of association, identity and discovery. They are at an age of crossing from childhood to adulthood. Their needs are thus varied and many times unrefined. To take advantage of this means creating brands that are expressive and definitive in their association with the teens. Teens will often buy the products that come with energy and pizzazz.
There is no possible sustainability without branding and/or re-branding a product. Branding involves creating an identity for the brand:
- As a product
- As an organization
- As a symbol and lastly
- As a person
Rothschild says the following about branding
“Brand Identity is the unique set of brand associations that establishes a relationship with target. These associations generate value via functional, emotional or self-expressive benefits. The brand is more than the tangible product itself; it also is a collection of these other important relational variables.”
Consumers need to relate to the brand as a matter of lifestyle. They need to feel included in the process of planning, production and the final product. Ownership of brand is not merely at the production end but also at the consumption end of the product where the consumer is the other stakeholder. The whole process of planning and production should therefore be essentially guided by the consumer needs.
Chintan says that to market brands to teens means that one has to be current, relevant and altogether interactive. He says “From Billabong to Adidas to Abercrombie & Fitch, this generation is very label conscious. This brand awareness is not just for clothes, shoes, and other products, but it is important for your brand as well. One critical and often overlooked fact is that your brand matters”. If your brand doesn’t embrace the teen perspective then neither will the teens give it a thought. The brand has to blend with the group and become as one with the teens.
The nature of teenage product needs
Creating a customer loyalty in the Age group
In order to stay relevant to the teens, one needs to captivate a culture of being current and finding a way of keeping in touch with changing trends. Teens lose interest very quickly and advance to new standards almost as often. To ensure that these teens stay loyal to your products, one needs to keep tabs with the current customers and keep them informed about what is new or what has changed about the product that makes it even better. Research has shown that these loyal teen customers will likely tell their friends about it and thereby pulling more customers. The encyclopedia for business brings out the following trends from research:
“Keeping existing customers is cheaper than finding new ones, and having a base of loyal customers for one product or service improves sales for the company's other offerings. By some estimates, the amount a company must spend to attract a new customer is five or six times that needed to keep bringing back loyal customers. Repeat customers are also more likely to recommend the company to others and to try out the company's latest products. The financial results are that a small percentage increase in customer loyalty can translate into a significant rise in profits”.
Research done by Financial Services Authority (FSA) about consumer needs indicate that satiating customers means that one has to meet certain minimum requirements in service delivery. The customer is as much a stakeholder as any other person involved in the process of production and is therefore supposed to be consulted on the development of product. Understanding a customer’s need means meeting those needs at a much more satisfying levels.
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