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Getting high on their own supply: the hidden insight into our marketing industry

The Youth Marketing Strategy London conference, aka the biggest festival of youth marketing in Europe, took place in March – a few months gone by now, but we still remember it well, for mixed reasons. We landed in a hipster cave in Bricklane for a 2-day event comprised of presentations, masterclasses and panel discussions focused on the youth marketing trends. Our very own NxtGen expert & InSites Consulting co-founder Joeri Van den Bergh got us hyped on Work, Work, Work for Millennials, what youngsters want and how they approach the workplace. There were several other big names and experts on marketing to young consumers, all introducing different (research) insights and case stories showcasing best practices.

With buzzwords like VR, disposable headphones and micro-influences being thrown around, it’s become clear that the definition of success amongst youngsters is shifting from material ownership to emotional enrichment.

Hot tweetawayHot tweetaway: From material ownership to emotional enrichment insit.es/2ttkh8b by @DTeixeira via @CoolBrands #geny #millennials #genz #marketing #mrx

These youngsters live in a world where authenticity is hard to come by, making them go after a new and raw realness that enables them to feel again. They coach each other to not fear to stand for what they believe in and go after their out-of-mainstream dreams.

Presentation after presentation, it became clear that the hot topic for brands is to be as authentic as possible this by leveraging the potential of real micro bloggers and social media. The thrill of authentic, tailored, one-of-a-kind, empowering, ephemeral experiences are showcased by social media yet the true kick for these youngsters comes from doing. ASOS, for example, tapped into that desire to create by enabling consumers to tailor their own tote bag. They made it ephemeral by means of a pop-up, providing a real and fun DIY design experience with a clear link to the brand’s concept of fast-fashion.

Hot tweetawayHot tweetaway: How @Asos tapped into #youngsters desire to create with #blankcanvas insit.es/2ttkh8b by @DTeixeira via @CoolBrands #geny #millennials #genz

Asos blank canvas

The notion of authentic brand experiences at first delivered a punchy aha. Yet soon all talks leaned towards that same concept, causing the freshness to fade. The stories told felt cliché with their impact being unclear – one could argue if social media shares/views/likes can be considered as ROI on their own. Many cases lacked evidence showing a direct correlation between intricate, super cool, authentic social media campaigns and actual brand growth.

At that point, it felt that all of those involved – audience, marketers and experts – were getting high on their own supply…

The punchline came in once the eagerly awaited Youth Top 100 Brands according to UK 16-24’s report was handed out, with the top 10 most loved brands being: Amazon, Maltesers, Google Maps, Cadbury, Walkers, Nivea, Galaxy, Boots, Fairy and Disney. What do these brands share that enables their common success?

Their success probably goes beyond a targeted, super segmented & niche social media strategy or very authentic advertising. These are all massive brands that are heavily present in youngsters’ everyday lives – either through distribution or communication. Whilst the YMS speakers merely preached about mobile social strategy, authenticity and micro-influencers, one could argue that the YMS 100 report voices the actual consumers: for them it’s all about getting the most out of brands that are easily available and present in their daily lives.

This might suggest that the success of the top youth brands presented in the YMS 100 report is corroborating Byron Sharp’s ‘How Brands Grow’ thinking. According to Byron Sharp penetration is king, which is driven by mental (1) & physical availability (2). Giants like Amazon or Google build themselves upon this, spicing things up with an emotional narrative, but always putting the consumer needs first.

  • Brands need to be front-of-mind, through exposure, strong performance and image; altogether the key is to be salient in the relevant consumer occasions, to get to the shortlist of brands considered by consumers
  • Once in that consideration set, brands need to close the deal: this is achieved through physical availability in communication, distribution & purchase channels

At the end of the day, success is different for every brand and brands grow using different paths – as described in this recent Brand Religion publication (by InSites Consulting). The key take-away of the event in our perspective: instead of letting ourselves being deceived by the coolness or perceived authenticity of our creations, it is essential that marketers stay close to what truly matters to their consumers – a simple idea but still so easily forgotten.

Hot tweetawayHot tweetaway: Don’t be deceived by #coolness, stay close to what truly matters to your consumers insit.es/2ttkh8b by @DTeixeira via @CoolBrands #marketing

Co-written with Alice Rakotoarison, Research Consultant at InSites Consulting’s London branch.

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