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Marketing to youth: roadblocks and opportunities

May 11, 2010

Certainly the 2010 census will reveal many shifts and trends in demographics in America and DeKalb County especially. With a population approaching 100,000, smart marketers are advised to be ready to adjust their marketing strategies to not only appeal to increased Latino populations, the resurgence of multi-generational households but an increasing youth population that has untold purchasing power.

According to a recent Newsweek article, between 2010 and 2050, the U.S. population aged 15 to 64 — considered the school-age and working demographic — will increase 42%, while decreasing during the same period in almost every other major developed nation. And while our global competitors will be faced with providing for the aging, U.S. businesses will enjoy the increased buying power of a more youthful consumer.

So, what can businesses, retailers and organizations expect when marketing to an increasingly younger customer?  Here are some do’s and don’ts:

Mobile messaging is a must. The average age that young Americans are getting phones is decreasing monthly and mobile phones are seen an important step to their independence. More youth prefer texting over e-mail, telephone conversations and actual face-to-face.

Appeal to the cutting-edge aspect of your product or service. While a restaurant might not seem to have the opportunity to be very progressive, perhaps making an reservation online via Open Table, tweeting daily specials or monitoring Yelp ratings and comments is key.

Realize that the youth market is extremely media-savvy. They will dismiss any retailer that employs the “standard tricks of the trade.” They are also highly influences by product placement within media and what “influencers” they admire are using or doing.

Cool is not, well, cool. Don’t promote your product or service using antiquated (and, yes, cool, is antiquated) terms or concepts. You’re best bet? Ask your children to be your sounding board if marketing to their demographic (and the one ahead of them) is truly your goal.

Realize youth are fickle. They have a short attention span and will abandon one product for another at a drop of the hat. The key to tapping into this market is understanding why young consumers choose one product or service over another in the first place.

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