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Defining the teenage market
Jane Pritchard: Defining the teenage market is quite an interesting question. I think sometimes brands slip into the mistake of actually thinking that all teens are exactly the same, but what you’ve got to remember is a teenager can be anything from 12 years of age up to 18. So you can imagine the needs and motivations are very different from a 12 year old to an 18 year old. So you need to alter the messaging accordingly.
I think the importance in teen marketing is to remember that you need to profile the audience and pinpoint exactly who you need to target. Broadly speaking you can target the teen audience in one of two ways. First of all from an age point of view, and sensibly it seems right to group 12 to 13 year olds together, 14 to 15 year olds together, and then 16 plus up to 18. You can also look at it from an attitudinal base as well and factor that into the profiling.
Teenage attitudes to direct mail
Jane Pritchard: It’s not so much how receptive they are because teenagers actually love communication, they love brands to communicate to them regularly; it’s more about which channel has the most impact in influence. So how does DM actually compare to other channels out there? There are some really favourable results actually out there around DM and targeting teens.
For example a piece of research that was done by ExactTarget, an email software company, suggested that DM was probably the best way to target teens. This compared to email and also social networks. So DM is actually a great channel although sometimes brands don’t exploit it enough. I think the important thing to remember though is that DM is part of the marketing mix to teens so it’s not just about solely doing DM to teens, you need to actually combine it with other channels.
This is an audience that grew up online. They’re very used to MySpace, IMing, going online, surfing, emailing and direct mail is quite an old-fashioned potential route to actually communicate with this audience. However, saying that you have to compare what communication they’re getting through an online channel at the moment and there’s a stat that says that a teenager is likely to get two pieces of DM a year compared to potentially 200 spams a week. So it’s important to remember that DM potentially can actually achieve the cut-through that you need.
The behaviour factors that make DM so appealing from a teenage point of view is that they actually receive something tangible that they’ve got in their hands and they can show that to their friends and actually gain social currency from it. Also with direct mail we can really personalise it, so it really appeals to the fact that they want to be individual and known as an individual. Finally, actually sending a piece of DM signifies that they’re making that transition into becoming an adult. Their parents receive all the time and they probably don’t receive that much, so any brand that actually sends a piece of DM out to them potentially could be seen as a favourable brand in the future.
Social networks and direct mail
Jane Pritchard: There are very obvious differences between social networks and direct mail. Social networks are about encouraging dialogue with a group of people and direct mail is about targeting one person with a set message. So they are very different and you can’t really compare them. It’s about how they complement each other in marketing activity is the key question you need to answer. DM plays a very important part in actually introducing a topic area to a teen, so a way of explaining exactly what a brand wants to do. And a social network is a fantastic way of facilitating the conversation back from the teenager once you’ve planted that idea through direct mail.
So to give you an example, Surrey Council have recently launched a campaign around antisocial behaviour. Now they use direct marketing first and foremost to tell teenagers about a website where they could exchange views and opinions about antisocial behaviour and then they directed teenagers to that site to upload photos, to rate things and exchange views and opinions. So that’s a great example of how DM and social networks can work really closely together to really deliver a fantastic marketing result.
Jane Pritchard: Virtually any media channel can actually work with a teenager. They are quite open to receiving messages through lots of different channels out there. And in fact they use lots of different channels at one time, so they might be viewing the TV at the same time as looking at a magazine and texting their friends. I think the important question to answer is what’s the right communication mix for your individual campaign and continually refine that to get the best response.
A great example of this is Boots No7, which can be targeted towards that teenage market, and they traditionally did TV and also magazine, but added direct marketing into the mix. Now this increased brand awareness by 27%, so you can see just by tweaking the campaign slightly and the communication mix, it can have a really positive impact on the end result.
Testing the teenage market
Jane Pritchard: What’s important to remember when you’re testing anything with teenagers is that they’re not adults, so they won’t respond to the usual kind of research techniques. So focus groups for example, where you sit in a room for a couple of hours and debate things, isn’t really a correct environment to get the very best results from a teenage audience.
What you need to consider is looking at ways to communicate through their channels. So online is a great way of being able to test concepts. Another opportunity is to actually go to an environment where they are all the time and we’ve tested concepts for example for the RAF with 14 to 15 year olds on a Saturday in a shopping centre and this has proved quite successful.