Young Track by Samyak Chakrabarty | 5 key things to consider when marketing to youth

17 Oct,2012

Samyak Chakrabarty

What’s a 23-year-old writing a column on a site where the average age of columnists is… ? Ok, ok, we won’t reveal that number, but like it or not the youth constitute a majority of India’s population. Since the last few years, young Samyak Chakrabarty has been in and around media events and offices with his vision of how the youth can be targeted.


In this period, he has organized a few conferences, participated in several of them in India and abroad, and works as Chief Youth Marketer with the DDB Mudra group. He’s organized a TedX youth conference in Mumbai, was invited to meet Hillary Clinton when she visited India and has co-authored a book ‘Generation Einstein 3.0 – India version’.


Samyak’s column will appear on Wednesdays and as the title suggests, it will track the young – specifically keeping in mind the advertising, media and marketing fraternity – Ed


This week, I would like to share five learnings I’ve had in my time so far as a youth marketer. While these are not scientifically proven facts, they are derived from my numerous interactions with college students at a very candid level (not survey sheets!).


1 Youngsters don’t wake up thinking about brands:

Large consumer brands often take it for granted that students already know about them and enjoy an automatic recall within that community. Often such arrogance is seen in the campaigns they conduct. But the truth is, brands are the least on the priority of the college-going crowd who have many more crucial things to worry about. The solution is not to therefore surround them with your brand and its aura at all touch-points all the time. In my opinion it would be prudent to ensure that the communication’s core message is so evocative and compelling that they are bound to not only remember it, but generate WOM even after the campaign expires.


2 Youth is not a singular set:

It is not sufficient to just aim at ‘targeting youth’ (this statement always irritates me in meetings!). Do bear in mind that youth behaviour is not uniform and hence a brand’s first goal should be to identify the ‘sub-set’ within the 15-35 age group which you want to target. As the next steps one has to develop a critical understanding of how those kind of youngsters think, breathe, talk, buy and dream. Often brands commit hara-kiri by assuming that being ‘cool’, ‘colourful’ and ‘celebrity-endorsed’ will appeal to all kinds of youngsters. It all depends on the product, price, persona and utility value.


3 Product first, then packaging:

Those born after 1990 have become more critical and conscious about what they buy. Therefore, the key factor which influences purchase is the product and not the brand’s communication. Hence, it is important that the brand manager as well as the product team work in sync and no silos to ensure that the two parallel functions deliver what each other promise to the young consumer, who will not think twice about shifting loyalty should he/she feel cheated. A classic example could be of a telecom brand – many students that I work with often complain that they are happy to move away from their existing provider just purely based on service issues, even though it means a more expensive plan or a less cool brand.


4 Price does not always hit the G-Spot:

One would often assume that for pocket money-dependent students, price would always work as a primary factor in deciding what to buy (applies for FMCG, Mobile Service Providers, daily utility gadgets and hangout places). In fact even I assumed so – but if one closely studies students from a metro city, price sometimes actually becomes a discouraging factor to buy if the aura around the product is more about its cheap price than about the qualities / aspiration value. I have noticed that many a time they tend to save up just to buy something more expensive because it is assumed to be better (nothing to do with reality!).


5 The way your brand manager thinks, makes a huge difference:

Often I see that some of the greatest brands often go through a period of disappointing communication only because their newly appointed manager (who may be extremely qualified and experienced) does not share the same thought process as the values embedded in the brand. This is more of a human resource function, but an extremely critical one – it amazes me how quickly a guy working for a sanitary pad brand can start to think for a cola! Many may hate me for saying this, but I believe that youth marketing too is not a uniform skill – one has to specialize and remain in that category to be able to successfully steer the brand in the right direction.


Lastly, I think one should also start looking at adolescents today to be able to plan in advance as to how when they transform into young adults – your brand can already enjoy an automatic connect. In many ways, we have already lost those born after 1990 since preferences for essential products are already formed at a very young age.


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