James Perrin

Are We Out Of Touch? #EdgeBrum

3rd Jul 2014 Social Media 9 minutes to read

are we out of touchThis afternoon I am speaking at On The Edge Birmingham. I will be looking at youth digital marketing, and how out of touch some brands really are. But for every bad example, there are plenty of good ones. So if you want to know how to be successful marketing to young people, check out my slides and blog post.

Marketing to a young audience is no mean feat. For any brand there are key fundamentals to remember, to ensure your communicating effectively. As new technologies emerge, it’s getting harder and harder for brands to stay in touch. So, here’s what your business needs to know.

Are We Out Of Touch? Edge Birmingham July 2014 from Koozai

A Young Market Is a Lucrative One, Potentially

Students account for half the UK youth population. They contribute an estimated £20 billion to the UK economy every year [Source: The Guardian]. This market spends money, but…

“Marketing to Britain’s youth is notoriously fraught. No-one wants to be the ‘dad dancing’ brand! Understanding the latest trends in terms of content and channels is crucial for a brand to carve-out a sustainable business model” Matt Burgess, Brand Building Director, Personal Care, Unilever [Source: Marketing Magazine].

It’s a big big concern for brands – who want to tap into this market, but just find themselves increasingly out of touch.

What We’ll Look At

  • Who Are Young People?
  • How Do We Reach The Market?
  • Youth Trends & Consumer Behaviours
  • What To Do Vs What Not To Do
  • New Trends & The Future
  • 10 Rules To Stay In Touch

Who Are They?

The term ‘Youth marketing’ doesn’t actually exist. The typical age range is 13 years to 35 years. Therefore, for any business it’s important to segment this into a number of key audiences. For example:

  • Teen marketing: 13 – 19
  • College marketing: 18 – 24
  • Young adult / young professional: 21 – 35

You could segment your audiences even further based of socio-economic and cultural factors. This will give you a number of buyer personas to target your brand, products and services.

How Do We Reach Them?

Whilst traditional youth marketing strategies include television advertising, magazine advertising, and product placement, today’s young people expect to be able to learn, interact and be entertained with brands or services targeting them online.

You can see this reflected in this timeline of marketing channels – Yes you have your TV, Print and Radio – but as soon as we turn to the end of 20th Century and the start of the 21st – a whole host of online channels appear:

Search Engines, Social Media /bookmarking, YouTube and video marketing, Content Marketing, Apps and Video Games.

Youth Trends And Consumer Behaviours

Did you know? 9/10 of young people are interested in tech

[Source: Chinwag].

This highlights the critical role that technology plays in the everyday lives of today’s youth generation.

But old school technology is redundant – mobile phones have been proven to be the accessory of note for the global youth market. Youth markets in Europe and the US fall between 83% and 87% of mobile ownership.

Technology has changed user behaviour. As such, the path to purchase is different now. In fact, when it comes to smartphones, there are some really disturbing stats out there: for example, 62% of youth sleep with their mobile phones [Source: Mobile Youth].

Did you know? 67 % of young people access Facebook from their smartphone

[Source: TNW]

Facebook has been the second biggest emergence for youth culture. This highlights the important role that Social Media plays in the everyday lives of young people.

Brands need to learn the importance of transparency, relevance and shared conversation versus traditional push approaches.

We know young people are big users of social media. A survey from the Guardian showed that 97% use Facebook and 45% are on Twitter. But importantly for brands, young fans aren’t 2 or 3 times more influential than your average customer, but up to 100 times.

Young People Break Trends First

Whether we’re talking about young people today, or 50 years ago, there is a similarity:

There is a desperate need to belong and fit into one’s peer group

This innate belonging filters unknowingly into the youth markets consumer behaviour as well as their behaviour online.

Unlike 50 years ago however, young people are surrounded by multimedia. As such they have become very savvy trendsetters, making them a very lucrative market to target.

If a brand no longer provides them with up-to-date digital entertainment, information or news, they will move onto a brand that will. This is the challenge faced by marketers.

What To Do Vs. What Not To Do

Be Authentic

Sony PSP

PSP Sony

Sony’s fake Blog (or flog) did not resonate well with its audience. It featured two ‘enthusiasts’ trying to convince family members to get one of them a PSP for Christmas. But it was a weak attempt at online marketing. They got caught out. Once this news broke, it only took a matter of hours for the word to spread and the rapid fire comments and responses began.



You could compare this to a number of genuine blogs created for youth, but I wanted to show you how you can create something that is fake (or fictional rather) and it still be well received amongst its intended audience.

The BBC programme Sherlock was praised for its digital integration and innovation – and Dr. John Watson’s blog is a great example. For each investigation featured within the programme, the BBC created pseudo-posts from John Watson. It even featured comments from all well-liked characters.

Hashtag Vs. Bashtag



Cue McDonalds and JP Morgan


A Twitter campaign by McDonald’s aimed at spreading good news about the firm has backfired spectacularly – with people using the #McDStories to highlight their worst experiences of the fast food chain.


JP Morgan decided to host a Twitter chat where students were encouraged to tweet questions for Vice Chairman Jimmy Lee on career advice and leadership. Many any made fun of the attempt to use social media, insulting executives and reminding readers of the bank’s recent legal problems.



However Coke show us how it’s done.

What I love about this campaign is that they didn’t try and push the hashtag – it evolved naturally. Coca-Cola has seen its Facebook community grow by 3.5% in the UK and globally by 6.8%. The hashtag has also been used 29,000 times on Twitter. Whilst its target was 18 – 25 years old, it took advantage from mass market penetration.

Educate, Entertain or Inform – Don’t Alienate

O2 and Tesco

O2 Rap Battle

O2’s Be more Dog Campaign has been hugely successful, thanks – in part – to the personality of the campaign, which is consistent across all platforms. Tesco Mobile have penetrated the market – appealing well to young people. This Rap battle didn’t do either of them harm – it strengthened their position in their markets as young, fresh, entertaining brands.

Abercrombie & Fitch


Mark Jeffries, CEO of A&F did the following in interviews and across social media. Being the CEO he should have known better – whether it was a PR stunt or not – it backfired.

Now this Is what I love about Social Media. Greg Karber, an LA writer was annoyed about the comments. He went on Facebook to complain and set up a campaign. Donate you a&F clothes to your local homeless shelter, and then tweet about it using the hashtag #FitchTheHomeless.

The stunt has come under criticism itself – which is fair enough as it could be exploitive of homeless people – but either way amongst young people there is a wave of discontent for A&F thanks to campaigns like this. So don’t alientate.

Don’t Ignore The Negatives



Lack of communication led to Bad PR for Blackberry, when phone owners experienced a sudden outage in service, early on a Monday Morning. Many turned to Twitter to vent their frustrations or to seek help from the device’s manufacturer, Research in Motion (RIM).

But the customer support Twitter account had no idea that there was an issue unfolding – posting tweets as normal. And the UK account, here, didn’t make this statement until later that evening.



But here’s how to do it – Argos style.

Think Real Time



In the wake of the horrifying Boston Marathon bombing, Epicurious had the nerve to tweet out a recipe suggestions for those in Boston and New England.

Adding insult to injury, Epicurious’ first response was to tweet “apologies,” saying that it was sorry if the Boston tweets “seemed” insensitive. Epicurious then deleted those tweets and finally tweeted an actual apology, admitting that the tweets were, “frankly, insensitive.”



One of the most buzz-worthy ads of the Super Bowl on Sunday wasn’t even a commercial — it was a mere tweet from Oreo. During the match, the power went out, and during the blackout Oreo seized on the opportunity, and tweeted this during the thirty-four minute hiatus.

New Trends & The Future

Whether it’s new technology uptake, channel adoption, behavioural changes, disposition to brands – the young people are the first and most comfortable in adopting new trends. It’s argued that Facebook, Twitter etc are becoming less reliable as a way to reach young people. As soon as something becomes too big, young people move away and find the next thing – the future is therefore to think more niche and targeted.

So what is the future? Here are examples from new Apps that have been well adopted by young people.



Brands including Ben & Jerry’s, Carphone Warehouse, Nando’s have already begun to experiment with using Jelly. Nando’s has also been using Jelly mostly to push out content – such as questions about its restaurants, topical questions and asking people to choose their favourite celebrities from a famous pairing.


Absolut Vodka and Woonky (South American advertising agency), built a campaign to celebrate the launch of their Limited Edition Absolut Unique collection.  The idea behind the Unique was to produce 4 million Absolut Vodka bottles that were each uniquely designed.

For the Argentinean launch they decided to host an exclusive party, with only 2 invites available to the general public. Absolut are a brand the historically doesn’t “speak”. But they had a goal of building awareness and establish a closer line of communication with the brand.

So they created a fake bouncer named Sven on Facebook. All entrants had to do was convince Sven using Whatsapp. Here’s what happened…



Some of the more agile brands are already using Snapchat for promotional campaigns.

The Co-operative Travel – Students using Snapchat are sent a discount code with a £30 reduction off their laptops, which ‘self destructs’ in 5-10 seconds. They have to opt-in by friending the Co-operative Electrical.

MTV – Used Snapchat to promote its show Geordie Shore. Fans who had friended the show’s Snapchat account started receiving exclusive videos and photographs leading up to the UK reality show’s sixth season premiere.

10 Rules To Stay In Touch

  • Know Your Audience
  • Be Authentic
  • Entertain, Educate Or Inform
  • Don’t Alienate
  • Don’t Stay Quiet
  • Engage
  • Think Real Time
  • Embrace New Tech
  • Focus on Earned Media
  • Be Relevant

For more information on Koozai, and any of our services, please get in touch today.

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