Power points to target & track youth

12 Jun,2014

 

Youth is more homogeneous today than ever before: D Shivakumar Reach the younger & funkier generation 
 

D Shivakumar

CEO, Pepsico India

 

Youth and youthfulness are evergreen concepts. The eternal truths of college, friends, and hangouts, falling in love and falling out persist. There are some differences in this generation due to technology and wider exposure.

 

Earlier generations saw basic brands and services. This generation has challenges with everything from quality education seats to public utilities. Let’s look at life, technology, relationships with brands and what marketers need to do to connect better.

 

Youth is more homogeneous today than ever before; they dress the same, talk the same, tap into the same sources for information and quickly form digital tribes. However, small town youth is about conformity, values and tradition playing the role of glue as well as shackles.

 

They try balancing between being trendy and managing family expectations. Their urban peers are about group belonging, but wanting to stand out -a ‘first amongst equals’ syndrome. They are more ‘global’ savvy. So, brands can be traditional and leading edge with the youth.

 

Indian youth recognise the world’s fragilities and life’s insecurities. This makes them ambitious about material success. It is about fulfilling potential and owning the badges. The markers are visible ‘money can buy’ symbols.

 

Their role models are talented sporting geniuses like Messi, Ronaldo and Tendulkar, smart tech guys like the Flipkart founders (Sachin and Binny Bansal), Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs and Edward Snowden, the whistle blower.

 

They admire the journeys of Dr APJ Kalam and MS Dhoni and anyone who has achieved rare competence in his or her field. Celebrities are aspirational and advertising which offers a peek into the celebrity’s world wins.

 

They are idealistic, realistic and competitive, all at once. The choice of careers is getting more diverse. They keep things light and aren’t deeply attached. They realise relationships have side exits.

 

Girls are postponing marriage to experience independence and be financially secure. Priyanka Chopra’s ‘it’s more than a phone’ ad which tapped into this attitude was a big success.

 

A competitive society pushes youth to be extra smart or hardworking. Most find the latter a difficult and boring path. Hence they resort to ‘jugaad’, the ‘chota short cut’ or ‘patli galli’. White lies are okay truths for them to get to the goal.

 

This dark side of youth is sometimes admired and often not condoned by peers and society! Movies have captured this; brands haven’t done so as yet.

 

Let’s look at the impact of technology. Every young Indian has access to a cellphone. India’s youth population dominates the 200 million Internet user base, the 100 million Facebook users, 80 million YouTube users and 30 million Twitter users. Technology allows youth to have multiple identities, mostly anonymous. It has made them multitasking champions and reduced attention spans.

 

Mobile phones and social apps have given them a way to connect with the opposite sex in their own private space and express themselves through words and visuals. Youth from ‘love marriage’ families do talk about their girlfriends and boyfriends with their parents. Boys and girls are open to discussing their relationships candidly. Can brands use these insights in their communication?

 

Technology makes youth consume, converse and create and gives youth social currency, however transient. It needs to be acquired by doing new and different things. ‘Talk value’ brands play a big role in building social currency. Brands can co-create by tapping into this consume, converse, create cycle.

 

Indian youth are comfortable with consumerism. They happily switch between branded and unbranded choices and use a wide repertoire. Brands give them identity and are important to expressing their coolness but always at the right value.

 

They want and respect socially conscious brands, however, they do not necessarily reward them with more business. Recycling in technology is a good example. How do brands get youth commitment to ecology and societal issues while staying on business strategy?

 

The challenge is to market inclusiveness memorably, and be authentic. The good of the brand is in its product promise and delivery, the challenge is in behaviour and responsiveness in the social space. Brands need to engage with youth on their turf, on their terms.

 

Youth passion revolves around sport, music, movies, shopping and hanging out. The emergence of English Premier League, the Spanish La Liga, NBA and F1 threaten cricket’s position. Brands that connect these broad passions do well; brands that force connection do poorly and are mocked for trying too hard.

 

Youth and aspiration are two sides of the same coin in every generation, aspiration of a new way and today a new technology. Youth always seek ‘the next wave to surf’.

 

India has 55,000 brands in the FMCG sector. Most of these brands view youth as the prime target segment. Yet, few get it right. Brands fail because they try too hard to be cool and in reality are too cold to be hot!

 

Source:The Economic Times

Copyright © 2014, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All Rights Reserved

Licensed to republish

 

 

Harish Bijoor

Brand expert & CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc

 

Youth and trends – that’s really an oxymoron, moron! And that opening sentence, in-the-eye, in-the-face, and in the gut, is the way the youth talk. “Hey Dawg” is a loving appellation. Aside hug follows, that could get your shoulder dislocated, but it’s away of bonding and telling you we come from the same generation, and are headed to the same hell.

 

Youth and trends are words that don’t necessarily go together.The moment something sets in, the category moves its cheese, chips and Coke. Trend is for the old.The young believe in change that is forever, and discontinuous.Anda discontinuous trend is really not a trend; difficult to track with method, science and meaning.Those who believe they are trend spotters live in a fool’s paradise.

 

The trend you write about is as old as the day it was written. This piece is therefore not as much about telling you trends as teaching you how to trend-track. Teach a man to fish, rather than give him the now-truly dead Pomfret you caught this morning.

 

Since trends are difficult to track, and have this yen to change, there is a great way of keeping in touch with the youth;what they do, wear, speak, eat and drink. Just watch them at it. Track them without them knowing. Catch them in their natural surroundings.

 

By the way this is not home, school, college or even a spanking new entry-level office. Instead, it is the third-place where they are letting their hair down. Gyms, beauty-parlours, cafes, pubs, discs and more. It is here that they are themselves.

 

Catch them on Twitter, Facebook or Tagged. Catch them with their pants down, with their second and third digital handles, on sites you never thought guys and girls like them would ever visit.The footprints you track today must be both physical and digital.

 

Just as there are “physical third-places”, there are “digital third-places”. And thenwhen you havewatched them 1:1 inmyriad “third-place” locations, build that sketch of theirs.This will change in three months flat.Therefore, keep building, calibrating their mind, mood, language, tone and tenor. You just might be on the right track, then. I call this generation “The I-Gen” where I stands for Impatient.

 

It’s the hallmark of youth. Patience cycles have progressively become smaller. Impatience is the newvirtue.The more impatient you are, the more of a ‘go-getter-youth’ you are.Whenyou can be Impatient, why be patient? Impatience hits you in the face all around.The youth are impatient with love.There are relationships on the front-burner, just as there is a parallel one on the back-burner.

 

Multi-hob is the way to go. There is impatience in sex and no binding yourself tight within the confines of a marriage. Impatience is everywhere, and the salivating marketer is ready to cater to it.Whenyou fracture your patella and rush to the hospital, there are two cures possible.

 

The patient one is to be in a cast for six weeks, and the impatient one is dowhat the doctor in the big hospital is recommending. Put in those nuts and bolts and be up and about in a week flat.The marketer here (in benign disguise) is the doctor recommending the high-priced quick-fix versus the low-priced plaster of paris in blue. This is everywhere in the youth space.

 

Pay the price and get the lost time back.Welive with two currencies today: time and money. And often, time is at a premium. There is impatience in the foods we eat, fast food versus regular. Restaurants versus QSR’s. Quick-serve restaurants versus slow-serve restaurants, if you will. There is impatience in the yen to create wealth, just as there is impatience to spend it all.

 

The bio-clock of the youth at large is ticking at a pace that seemsmuch more frenetic than at any time in our marketing history.There seems to be very little time to live, might as well live it fast and furious. Fashion, lifestyle, entertainment and digital use is witnessing this impatience all around. What then is the real problem at hand? It’s not what, it’s who.

 

The marketers in the country who are an older lot,much older than the people they sell to.Whoare good at the old marketing format: Patience Marketing. Impatience is a mindset they just do not understand well enough. Even if they do, there is lip-service done to it.

 

There is also this dominant attitude and notion in the minds of older marketers (and by old I mean age 30 and above, ouch!), that this impatience is a fad, and it will pass. Marketers instead need to learn and practice impatience. Embrace it within your brand DNA.

 

Pack it within your brand offering, and showcase it to the youth. Resonate with this impatience and be a part of it rather than criticise and passes value-judgments, as an older person is bound to. Re-check your ‘young quotient’ dear marketer, before you attempt to market to the youth effectively.When was the last time you hit a discotheque and grooved to the tune of Timber and Dubstep? Do you even know what we are talking about? Ouch!

 

Source:The Economic Times

Copyright © 2014, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All Rights Reserved

Licensed to republish

 

 


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