Marketers Get Social with Young Consumers
By Rupa Ranganathan, Ethnic Strategist, Strategic Research Institute
Teenagers will be the first to tell you that their parents and other adults just do not get them. If you’re a marketer and you’re looking to get some of the $175 billion spent annually by 12- to 17-year-olds or the $200 billion plunked down by college students, then the December 12 cover story of Business Week is a must read for you.
The issue looks at an entirely new space in marketing, brand-building and word-of-mouth buzz with a peek into youth-oriented blogspheres and online social networks, such as Buzz-Oven.com, Facebook.com, Myspace.com and Xanga.com.
Myspace.com alone has 40 million members and now ranks as the 15th most visited site on the internet.
The teens and twenty-somethings who visit Myspace.com and other sites are “the first cohort to grow up fully wired and technologically fluent.” They go to sites to communicate with peers, get information on the current music scene, help with schoolwork or emote over a recent breakup. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, teens spend one hour and 22 minutes a day engaged in social networking online.
Coke, along with others such as Target, Sony Pictures, Procter & Gamble, Apple Computers and Victoria’s Secret, are among the marketers making a space for themselves in this new sphere.
Apple Computer began sponsoring an official group on the Facebook site after its founder Mark Zuckerburg noticed college students setting up groups such as Apple Students. Facebook boasts 9.5 million members, mostly college students. Through its official group sponsorship, Apple gives away iPod Shuffles in weekly contests as well as being able to directly reach interested consumers with product announcements and links to student discounts.
One area not adequately addressed in the excellent Business Week piece is the multicultural market. According to New American Dimensions, 40 percent of the population under 25 is multicultural and belongs to some ethnicity or race other than non-Hispanic-white.
Moderator’s Comment: Does the strong multicultural background of large numbers of younger consumers pose an added challenge to brand marketers who are
attempting to market via social networks? How can multicultural marketers seize a new space in the broader sphere of blogs and social networks to accelerate brand buzz?
George Anderson – Moderator