The Anchor: 5 Reasons why Brands get it wrong with the Youth

14 May,2012

By Samyak Chakrabarty


1. Boxing youth into strict definitions

In a country as diverse asIndia, one cannot define our youth or predict consumption behaviour by merely categorizing them under conventional economic segmentation or geographies. Our youth is continuously evolving, especially those born after 1988 are still caught in a transitional phase from and into very different eras. It can never be obvious what a SEC A+ 20 year old male inNew Delhiwill purchase just by looking at the size of his wallet or the kind of college he studies in !


2. Youth don’t wake up thinking about brands

Just because your brand ambassador maybe Ranbir Kapoor or your communication is ‘cool’ (I hate it when brand managers say this!), one can’t take it for granted that youngsters will always have your brand on their top of mind or will purchase your product. Today, we are more conscious and calculative about what we consume, hence substance is equally as important as packaging. Second, to build loyalty with this generation, the brand has to be equally loyal to them!


3. Digital is the holy grail

There was a time when brand managers would pull out their hair trying to figure how to engage youth sustainably. Soon enough,Silicon Valleyanswered their prayers and there landed from ‘the cloud’ Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. But unfortunately, brands take it for granted that just because they are on social media or rather have a million likes/views, theirs is a ‘cool youth brand’. This is not true, these days we ‘view’, ‘like’ or ‘tweet’ about anything and everything that comes into our online space – it has become a function of habit. These numbers cannot be used to measure brand engagement/conversions in pure statistical terms. Just because your brand is now digital, it is not young.


4. Trying to measure word of mouth

Indiais perhaps the only country in the world where brand managers ask for a ‘measurement matrix’ for world of mouth campaigns conducted in colleges. I guess they like to show off to their bosses how much they know and meticulous they are. How can one ever measure, record or contain conversations that happen offline? And just because therefore there is no direct ‘ROI’, youth brands in India refuse to run simple WOM campaigns, even though in fact, if rightly administered and structured, the investment can be more profitable then all digital spends put together since most purchases/brand decisions happen through peer references that take place in conversations over chai in the canteen or a beer in the pub – NOT on Facebook.


5. Today’s Youth is an alien species

To my final point, brands look at ‘youth’ as a totally alien species, which they are trying to figure and due to that very attitude, all the numbers, insights and ideas start not making sense. I, myself, have written above that those born after 1988 are indeed a totally different than their predecessors but that doesn’t mean that we overcomplicate and give too much importance to the way they think, eat, drink and surf! I guess the simplest thing to do is work on an intelligent, creative and smart campaign without reading too much into youth behaviour because reality is that one will never ever be able to understand how these mindsets function since there is no one point where this transition will end.


Samyak Chakrabarty is Chief Youth Marketer, DDB Mudra Max


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