Youth Marketing Insights » Youth Marketing Inspiring best in practice youth marketing through sharing of ideas, strategy, trends and conversations about cool stuff Thu, 04 Feb 2010 04:31:40 +0000 en hourly 1 We are living in a Transmedia World, and I am a Transmedia Girl (Part 1) Mon, 02 Nov 2009 23:51:53 +0000 Meghan Stuyvenberg A great video on transmedia storytelling by Henry Jenkins, author of Convergence Culture. Here Jenkins (my hero BTW) discusses the fundamental shift from spectator culture to participatory culture and inspires us to think of the opportunity presented now that individual voices carry so much weight. This is an intellectual look about how the world is changing – not just media or marketing.

From my perspective I find the concept of multi-platform storytelling especially intriguing as it is fueled by relevant youth marketing trends – the proliferation and popularity of new media forms like video games, social web and mobile platforms, as well as user demand for spreadable content and assets. Each platform makes a unique contribution to the brand narrative, and at the same time build on each other to create a larger story. These stories are non-linear, constantly shifting and ever engaging. What keeps marketers awake at night (figuratively speaking, otherwise take a vacation) is that a growing proportion of this is now formed outside of corporate HQ.

In every challenge is an opportunity and here we find it is in exploring and delivering on every possible media platform to effectively engage an audience. Transmedia storytelling is not a new concept, and sometimes it happens organically for fan-building brands. However this is more than marketing-speak – to me this is Opportunity #1 for thought-leadership in shifting from the old to the new.

Next post I will discuss my ideas on important considerations when developing transmedia brand stories – so stay tuned!

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Why you should market your company culture, not just products Mon, 24 Aug 2009 01:54:34 +0000 Meghan Stuyvenberg While a shift from traditional formulas for advertising ROI, I believe that the best youth brands have discovered how to not only market products, but market the companies.

This is important for two reasons – 1) your company is your products/offer, and your products are your company – seems obvious but unfortunately there is often a disconnect here as companies get bigger and execs get removed – CEO’s need to make an effort – cue Richard Branson. 2) there is a very fine line between your offer and your reputation, therefore you need to consider your company from a holistic point of view – no more left-brain and right-brain business structures.

Red Bull – the gold standard for which most youth brands aspire too (and I would argue most brands full stop) – is organised so that at heart of the company sits the brand and marketing. This is a fundamental difference to more traditional corporate structures where the marketing department is there to support the business. Red Bull understands that they are in the business of energy, not energy drinks, and this is why the brands resonates.

I love the idea of promoting the culture of a company as a branding exercise in order to deliver these messages to the consumer. Clever companies are realising their biggest brand fans and advocates are sitting right next to them and experimenting how to leverage this.

Zappos is a great case study of how to democratise social media within an organisation to help communicate the company culture outwards to consumers. We are not talking casual Fridays and a beers on Friday night, but what the company stands for and how this is communicated form the inside out. For example in this latest Zappos video several employees show off their tattoos and tell the stories behind them. Quite personally the tats seem a bit ‘hey look at us, we’re cool’ but I think that is more my personal feeling of tats then the initiative (btw I have tattoos and therefore am able to make such generalisations).

Check out insidezappos YouTube channel here for more company culture videos including baby showers, profiles of employees work spaces, and general antics.

Another company has recently announced a similar initiative. PUMA has a new integrated campaign which features a selection of 14 employees proclaiming their most random thoughts – their love for chicken nuggets and cupcakes, date-seekers and ex-girlfriend rants. Believe the photo shoot featured here will also form the new advertising campaign. I think this is great, PUMA is cleverly using employees to highlight how as a brand they are young and creative.

Check out PUMA’s YouTube channel here for more info.

I would only add an element to make this even more integrated by using this content at retail level. I think it’s a really good feeling if you were to walk into a store and get a sense of the corporate culture. I could see this content on loop in stores, each location creating and incorporating their random thoughts as well. Integrate the ad campaign with an internal comms initiative and watch it grow.

I think we all get at some level that being good is no longer good enough, companies need to be relevant. Youth want to buy into more than a product. Considering this audience participates in 145 CONVERSATIONS a week about brands – twice the amount as adults – I would suggest we all consider how we can resonate at every level, not just product.

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The real insight from 15-year Morgan Stanley intern – LISTEN Tue, 14 Jul 2009 07:40:59 +0000 Meghan Stuyvenberg

Yesterday it made international news that a 15-year old intern at Morgan Stanley has “shocked the industry” by reporting on the “real” media consumption habits of teens. By around the world – I mean Tokyo, New York, London and Sydney. Not sure how this is breaking news but the report by Matthew Robson titled How Teenagers Consume Media found “Twitter is for old people, teenagers do not listen to the radio and a mobile phone is used for talking to girls”. Mr Robson researched via his networks of friends and says he believes the data represents the collective wisdom of about 300 teenagers. His research method — “I texted a few friends to get ideas,” he told the Financial Times. Edward Hill-Wood, executive director of Morgan Stanley’s European media team said: “His report was one of the clearest and most thought-provoking insights we have seen – so we published it.”

As we know Mr Robson’s “network” are probably all kids like him, so in reality provides more of an insight into his specific demographic than the world as a whole – in fact read the barrage of comments on each and every news site and everyone apparently has an opinion about the validity of his findings. Groundbreaking stats to shock the world, I think not. But I do think that it is great that this report has generated interest in Listening to Gen Y. Listening with Capital L and Big Ears.

Often we make our market research overly strategic, and in reality it is often framed by people outside of the target which therefore influences the results. Mr Robson’s view – straight from the horse’s mouth. I think a really interesting insight that comes from this is not the media habits, because (hopefully) most people in Youth marketing would have a grasp of that. More it’s that you can spend $200 and give a kid a camera and it will give you more insight than $25,000 worth of data. Insight is funny like that – it needs to create that “aha” moment for you to make it relevant.

My point is if it’s you are in Youth Marketing and it’s been a while since you have spent a day at a music festival, chilled out on university campus or even chatted with a teen-something at a local Surfing event – maybe you would be better placed to spend a day in the life as a bit of a reality check then spend another day reviewing market research in your boardroom. This is why Youth brands such as Red Bull – which are on the ground with kids every day – get it. By get it I mean youth marketing but also marketshare. And really, is this only a “youth” thing or could all marketers take a page from this manual?

One final note – and to no discredit to Mr Robson who I could only imagine is a very confident, well spoken and interesting kid – but not sure why exactly he is labeled a whiz kid? Why do the established always fail to recognise the potential of the unestablished – aka their own workers? This is not a Gen Y versus “old people” argument – this is a theme throughout history. Why do companies not harness the value of the insight that younger generations bring to the table as opposed to groan about their attitudes and expectations?

Hope this an “aha” moment amongst all my 50-something CEO’s CMOs, Recruitment Officers, etc.

PHOTO CREDIT, Financial Times: Matthew Robson, 15, says teenagers don’t read newspapers, use phones to make calls or go to the cinema.

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Nestea takes Nes-step Online Tue, 07 Jul 2009 01:45:40 +0000 Meghan Stuyvenberg

Coca-Cola’s Nestea is the latest brand to launch online-only branded content. As noted in a recent Brandweek article, “[CTRL], which launches on sites such as,, this month, stars Tony Hale of Arrested Development as an office worker with the ability to change everyday reality by drinking Nestea”. The webisdoes will supplement the current Nestea “Liquid Awesomeness” campaign running online, and launches in mid-July. You can read the full interview with Annis Lyles, VP of Media and Interactive for Coca-Cola, North America in Brandweek here which gives some interesting insight.

The strategy seems right to me – empowerment. Adding value and content to youth’s lives. Ms Lyles also noted that it takes more than building the site or posting the videos to draw attention, there is a seeding strategy in place to drive awareness (I hope that seeding strategy doesn’t mean banner ads, by the way). Another tick for success. Furthermore, entertainment as a core youth pillar seems a natural fit for a brand trying new engagement models.

However I do feel there is a major hurdle for any brand moving into a youth space – it can seem hollow. I think this is because youth feel brands need to earn a certain level of credibility that offers this humorous, playful tone for example. Cracking the youth demographic is difficult, if you look at really successful brands like a Boost Mobile or Red Bull, they are ingrained at a really grass roots level. Boost Mobile people are present at local surf events, pick-up basketball games, and the other relevant places their target audiences are – in real life, and online. That level of commitment and authentic interest from a brand is a cultural thing, and if that is not your company’s brand I think it poses significant challenges. Red Bull is a unique company where the marketing runs the organisation, not vice versa.

That said we all have to start somewhere whether trying to find a new audience, or making the jump to an online engagement strategy. It is all a learning process and evolution for us and I am surely not one to criticise brands for making the leap. I look forward to following [CTRL] – sounds like something I would like and yes, I am the target millennial. Anyway maybe some more of my millennial readers (which believe it or not there are quite a few) will check it out as a result as well…

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YouTube Summer School – Literally…. Fri, 03 Jul 2009 05:29:32 +0000 Meghan Stuyvenberg

I have often written about the role of technology in education – I think it’s an important topic that does not get enough attention. However there is a reverse side of this – and that’s educating youth about relevant (and safe) uses for technology. I think having not just basic but advanced skills with a variety of formats, channels and technology is a must.

Needless to say there is a huge opportunity for technology brands to embrace the young generation, providing the educational resources that are relevant, and in turn develop advocacy at an important stage. This is adding value 101.

That said today I have seen an interesting Apple initiative today –“From you to YouTube” – a training program on the evolution of creation of video content. The site says it’s “an intensive hands-on summer workshop for young adults in writing, shooting, directing, editing and even distributing work.” Awesome. I find it really interesting and an amazing sign of the times that “distribution” is an area of study. It got me thinking that before they just send these kids on their way, I hope as a Master Class they offer advice on Personal Branding and how to manage and maintain your reputation online. We all know the dangers of public vs private spaces, but what about how to maximise your online brand. Seems a natural next step here.

Not only do I applaud Apple for having a presence and taking a role in this space (note this is only one of many education initatives for them), I heart the grass roots foundation they have. Sounds like Summer School of my dreams!

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BK uses BJs to sell new Seven Incher Fri, 26 Jun 2009 00:09:17 +0000 Meghan Stuyvenberg

Quick service marketing is a different beast altogether isn’t it? Check out this highly suggestive new ad campaign from Burger King. Actually it’s not suggestive, it’s overtly sexual. It’s also funny. Guess I fit within the immature adult category — although a reminder that I am female.

In case you didn’t catch the text at the bottom of the poster, here it is (via Gawker):

“Fill your desire for something long, juicy and flame-grilled with the NEW BK SUPER SEVEN INCHER. Yearn for more after you taste the mind-blowing burger that comes with a single beef patty, topped with American cheese, crispy onions and the A1 Thick and Hearty Steak Sauce.”

As it goes sex sells. So sue them. I know I don’t blame them for beating the sex innuendos to death – think the only way a print ad is going to generate so much discussion or awareness is from shock value. Or humor. I’m not one for any publicity is good publicity (in fact that one line is one of the worst things to happen to PR), but to this seemingly specific target market leveraging both sex and humor seems a legitimate strategy to me.

Disclaimer: just in case you can see right through my not so subtle strategy, it is definitely true that because I used the word “sex” in this post that it will generate that much more traffic. What does that say about my audience?

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10 Things Millenials Could Teach CMOs About Marketing Tue, 23 Jun 2009 04:17:11 +0000 Meghan Stuyvenberg

I am a firm believer that understanding and listening to Gen Y, millenials, youth or whatever you call them is not about just reaching that demographic. Rather it provides valuable insight about the market as a whole. Youth are leading a rapid transformation in consumer marketing and brand engagement, and that is why we should all pay attention.

That said, I have put together a list of 10 Things Millennials Could Teach CMOs About Marketing.

  1. Provide a reason. We want to buy into more than “this latest product/service is best”. And the latest technology upgrade 6.18 or new Orange Raspberry flavor isn’t going to cut it. Think more deeply about the rationale, what is the bigger picture.
  2. Thrive does not equal Survive. You must evolve and grow with us, with the market. Otherwise you will lose relevancy, no matter how big you once were giants fall.
  3. Be authentic and have values. We spend our money in an effort to support brands. The companies that walk the walk will have our support – in dollars.
  4. Elusive isn’t the word, just stretched. Think broadly in terms of where you can reach me– and remember I only spend 1 of every 11 minutes online on a social network.
  5. Entertain me. Consumer experiences matter, that is what we remember and talk about. And think about the whole marketing cycle because my experience with your brand extends well beyond purchase point.
  6. Brands aren’t friends. But you should think more how to socialise with me then to sell to me.
  7. Inspire. Lead us by example.
  8. Empower me. We feel entitled because we grew up expressing ourselves online, how can you help me spread the word for you?
  9. Quickly bored. It’s not ADD, it’s just that we are all inundated with massive amounts of brands messages. Keep it simple or loose mind space – quickly.
  10. The age of Here and Now. I prefer to lease my car, pay as I go on my mobile, and expect real time help from my online bankng service. My sense of immediacy directly relates to who I interact with brands.
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Kids create vids on binge-drinking to raise social awareness Mon, 15 Jun 2009 06:58:45 +0000 Meghan Stuyvenberg

As part of an on-going National Binge Drinking Strategy (shouldn’t’ it be “anti-binge drinking”?) titled “Don’t Turn a Night Out into a Nightmare”, the Australian Government launched a Short Film competition and have chosen the 6 winners featured on a new site here. You can watch the videos and choose which you think is the most powerful, and have a chance to win $5,000 in the meantime. They are great, congrats to the winners, always imrpessed with youth talent.

I like the campaign and think it is a Youth issue that warrants high awareness and heavy dollars to support it (for example the approximately $53 million allocated to the larger strategy). I like the fact that some of this investment is going towards more engaging ways to educate kids about negative consequences of excessive alcohol consumption. Tactically I think the site is good, the videos are really powerful. I assume this content is being repurposed and used in a variety of channels other than this site as well.

The only layer I would add to this campaign is something that creates more opportunities for dialogue, as I think it would be hard to effect behavioral change – especially that which is so ingrained in our culture – without it. It takes time – think about awareness around climate change as en example. The dialogue created the awareness, which in turn developed into relevancy on a small (personal level) as well as really broad (global level). Then the relevance has started to create action….which in turn stems more dialogue. Of course then follows international music festivals with Black Eyed Peas, political documentaries and mocumentaries, 20/20 summits, school degrees…you get the idea…..

Thanks to ThreeBillion for putting me on to the launch of the new site as well – always a great source for Youth Marketing info!

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Xin Chào – What I learned about Youth Marketing on a Trip to Vietnam Wed, 20 May 2009 08:34:37 +0000 Meghan Stuyvenberg

I have returned from Vietnam. For those who follow regularly, thanks for being patient. After several weeks of not writing I have lots to catch up about.

I thought it fitting to have my first post back be about what I learned of [Youth] Marketing during my travels. As with all travel experiences (and hence the beauty of it), it is inevitable you will both discover new things and experiences, as well as rediscover some old ones. Both are amazing and delight me in their own right. Regarding Youth Marketing, it is no different. Some things reinforced what I know to be true in what I am familiar with, other things I stumbled upon were very interesting and new (at least to me).

In regards to the Vietnamese market (and I need to clarify that 3 weeks of sightseeing doesn’t make me an expert, I am merely piecing together what I observed with what I know), the biggest thing that stuck out to was immense amount of opportunity for Youth Marketing, at least in the urban centres. Three things that helped me come to this conclusion are the Young Population, Vibrant Economy and Emerging Technology.

  • Young Population. 54% of Vietnamese population of 87 million is aged under 25…While I have seen variances on this exact figure, really enough said.
  • Young Technology. With the above , that means the largest slice of the pie in Vietnam are young, [and typically] early adopters of technology. Interest and need drive innovation and further extend reach. Social Media is currently utilised by the Early Adopters, but not long after will that give way to brands looking to differentiate in market.
  • Young Economy. Relatively recent admission into the World Trade Organization solidifies Vietnam as a country that is poised for economic growth. My impressions were of a viable, vibrant country and in talking with new friends there, I found there is an overwhelming interest in economy and business.

As a result of the potential in market, I have summarised a few of the more specific opportunities I came across. As there is not a particular heading all of these fit under, I will title: Random Youth Marketing Experiences from My Travels in Vietnam (I wonder if this means I can expense some of my trip…..hmmmm…..)

Mobile, mobile, mobile. Everywhere.
Wow, big demand for mobile in Vietnam. I have since my travels read a forecast of a staggering 270% growth to reach 46 million users by 2010 (Wireless Asia 2007). A recent Neilson survey “found 74 percent of people in Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi own a mobile phone”, and in general boasts higher adoption rates than both China and India. It seems with the recent rise in household incomes, there has been a surge of consumer consumption, mobiles being one of the must-have items. Every street in every corner has a mobile phone store. Texting while driving motorbikes, texting with two phones at the same time (true story), texting in multiple languages – all of these are common in Vietnam. Young mobile users spend a larger share of their consumer power on both voice and messaging than any other age group. The result is the very large youth segment drives the largest mobile and data usage, securing it’s future and growth. With those figures all you have to do is the math, it’s a solid foundation for mobile marketing (hopefully savvy marketers learn from previous SMS marketing mistakes).

Online gaming, 24/7.
4 AM, just got off train in Hanoi, hotel doesn’t open until 6, so I stagger into a 24-hour internet café (which they mostly are in the city centres). What do I find, 10 of the 25 computers taken by very intense online gamers. Let me note that it was not just “kids”, it was common to walk by a internet hub and see business men after work hitting it up as well. There were posters for competitions, and from chatting with a friend Anh, apparently there are professionals as well. Online gaming not only provides sources of revenue, but also co-branded opportunities as well as communities for brands to participate in.

Entertain Me. 24/7.
There seemed to be an overwhelming demand for entertainment in all forms, especially that which is streamed online (TV, movies, music, as mentioned above gaming). Don’t get me started on the English Premiere soccer fascination – think I could have stolen a plane during the Manchester United game and no one would have noticed. Everywhere there are heaps of offers for downloading music (highly doubt legal but will leave that as is), and kids that might not have computers at home streaming very loud pop music at all hours from the internet hubs. While music and entertainment have always been important factors in Youth culture, the co-emergence of access to entertainment through technology ensures it will reign supreme in those enviornments (versus other markets where social networks are used for things specific to networking or information sharing). I also think that this will create demand for local entertainment and innovative companies can trial branded content.

Not sure the relevancy here BUT if you can come up with a product or service for the incredible amount of motorbikes in that country, please tell me so I can invest!

So yes, most of my discovery comes from internet cafes (which in terms of community interaction I would liken to the my experiences at the piazza I lived by in Siena, Italy). And obviously not everything screamed out innovation and opportunity, it was until recently third world. However I was intrigued and excited by what I did see, and of course welcome any insight or feedback from anyone who has experience in Youth Marketing in Vietnam, or other markets, to compare thoughts. That’s what this blog is about – sharing thoughts and experiences that lead to best practice youth marketing.

PS next on my trip agenda (as recommended from Silka on her year long, world tour – Argentina, Chile and Peru…..

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Daryl Butler of Nike wins me over, again Wed, 22 Apr 2009 06:23:50 +0000 Meghan Stuyvenberg

Recently YPulse did a brief Q&A with the very smart Daryl Butler, retail brand marketing director for Nike (and before that he was at Boost Mobile, which was also one of the first youth brands I had the pleasure to work with years ago). Nike does youth marketing really well, best in practice really, and as could be expected there was some interesting insight from DB.

I won’t include a copy of the whole interview, as I want to direct you to YPulse here for that, however I wanted to make a note of how much I think this guy gets it….and BTW in a 5 questions email interview, I generally wouldn’t be expecting a whole lot.

Take the below for example:

[YPulse] YP: Can you describe a recent successful youth-targeted initiative from Nike? What made this work?

[Daryl Butler] DB: I would be selling the brand short if I focused on an initiative. That assumes that our work is done….and that’s far from the case.

It’s not that what he says is groundbreaking, it’s that it feels genuine. There is a humbleness with which Daryl speaks about the brand and the relationship with it’s consumer that I find amazing, especially in this industry. It is a sense of learning from and listening to the customers. It is all about adding value to their lives. It is a real understanding. It is the conversation. Sounds like he is even at the basketball courts with kids on Sat morning, chatting, trying new products, just being a part of their lives – that is commitment anyone can respect.

So now that I have exhausted pretty much every buzz word in marketing (I see about 36 in the above para alone), I want to make clear why call out DB and Nike specifically. I guess it’s that while brands speak of this level of engagement, few actually do (or maybe should say can), and that’s why his and Nike’s approach stands out. This is not to be negative towards other brands, it merely highlights how advanced Nike as an organisation is, not just the marketing department.

“Going back to basics” as I believe he puts it, and listening to consumers is exciting, maybe because I grew up jaded by the you-need-me approach. Really there are very few brands – if any – that we as paying consumers need. I can think of 1 example – tow-truck companies – by the time a car is towed we have to pay them to be allowed to recover it, and most who have experienced that would agree customer satisfaction is low on the priority list there and we all hope to never run across them again. So with that in mind, does your customer need you or do you need your customer ?

As always my tangent gets a bit off track, but the point is I look forward to continuing to watch and learn closely from the mistakes and successes of a brand like Nike, where the customer is central to the company. I sincerely hope to run into more marketing execs at places I hang out listening to what I want, if that ever happens you can be sure they would have converted at least one advocate – me!

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