challenge marketers in new ways
April 23, 2001
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
is a time of radical change for interactive marketers, a time
as challenging and filled with complexities as, say, adolescence.
might be at the “adolescent” stage of the Internet
revolution, I decided to call Elissa Moses, an expert on both
teen marketing and technology; I wanted to see if there might
be some parallels between the evolution of the Internet and those
troubled teenage years. Teens, like today’s interactive
marketers, face changes every day, and perhaps understanding them
would provide insight and lessons for today’s hard-pressed
technology marketers—or, at least, some comfort.
Moses is senior
vice president and director of global consumer and market intelligence
for Royal Philips Electronics NV, and author of The $100 Billion
Allowance: Assessing the Global Teen Market, a book based on the
New World Teen Study underwritten by New York ad agency D’Arcy
Masius Benton & Bowles. Moses previously worked with the agency
and drove the study, which included 34,000 quantitative interviews
with teens in 44 countries.
across the countries Moses and her colleagues surveyed totals
more than $100 billion annually. The top markets for teen spending
are the United States ($27 billion), India ($16 billion) and Brazil
($15 billion), followed by Japan ($7 billion), Germany ($6 billion),
Argentina ($5 billion) and the United Kingdom ($ 4 billion). There’s
lots of gold out there in the teen market, and technology-based
marketing techniques are just one of the ways to tap into it.
Plus, teens are major influencers of household technology purchases.
Teens often know more about technology than their parents and
can become primary reasons for buying leading-edge consumer technology,
something European and Japanese cell phone makers and service
symbiotic the relationship is between technology and global youth
culture. Indeed, the Internet and the spread of global consumer
electronics enables a common global youth culture. Computer screens,
cell phone screens, television screens and electronic game screens
have all contributed to this phenomenon.
is really the driving force in terms of defining youth culture
today,” Moses says. “Teens themselves are nearly as
fixated on technology today as they were on the causes of bygone
years. With every generation there tends to be a focus—a
challenge, an issue. Today’s global youth is centered around
previous generations, where kids had tension with their parents
or they had political tension, the real tension for today’s
generation is the speed of change and the thrill of opportunity
that comes with that change as well as the challenge and the anxiety
about keeping ahead of the curve,” Moses says.
to the teen audience starts with a basic marketing principle:
“Get to know your audience.”
them,” Moses says. “If you’re Ford Motor Co.,
go on a road trip with them. Understand how they feel, what they
care about (and) what motivates them so that you can create offerings
which really benefit them.”
me that those teenage times, just like recessionary times, are
filled with uncertainty. There are immutable aspects of that life
stage that have more to do with biology than they do with culture
and, like an economic downturn, there are things you can control
and things you can’t. You have to learn to live with and
manage through the ambiguity without getting distracted.
are true of teenagers and business cycles today, as they were
100 years ago and will be true 100 years in the future. One of
the nice aspects of adolescence is that it ends with time. We
gain greater experience as we age and our maturity leads tobetter
decisionmaking and better choices. The same is happening today
with interactive marketing: Growing more mature doesn’t
preclude the Internet from being one of the most powerful channels
for reaching and connecting with our customers.
marketers to understand teen values and to remember that teens
understand marketing and will see through thin veneers.
got to really design products and services that meet their needs
and speak to them in their language,” she says. At the same
time, she points out, “This target is making brand choices
that could last for the next 50 or 60 years.”
teens, the Internet is the way they communicate—fast, furious
and multitasking. These teens will grow into adults, and they
will reshape the way we gain information and transact business.
and youth are the two most fascinating topics for a marketer,”
Moses says. “That’s why I’m centered right between
them. Technology and young people are both about the future.
you’re forward thinking and full of dreams, if you want
to see what’s possible in the world and you want to help
create what’s possible, then dealing with young people and
dealing with technology is a magic formula.”
no question it’s tougher to be a marketer today that it
was 12 months ago. Yet something about the enthusiasm and excitement
surrounding teen marketing reminds me that business cycles, like
teenage years, pass with time.
Michael Krauss is a partner with DiamondCluster International
He can be reached at email@example.com.