Several articles ago I wrote a series of articles about teen-agers, their dislikes, their likes, their spending habits and information in general to educate the reader about the teenager. This particular article will deal with the influence with the marketers who try to entice the teenager clientele with their product.
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Google is already part of teens' online routine. According to comScore, Google got a rise from teens in the last year as the number of teen visitors to Google jumped 24 percent to 10.7 million from April 2005 to April 2006.
The comScore report states "it's clear that there are benefits to providing realtime inventory information to sites like Google when it comes to capturing young consumers. They're three times more likely to use Google to find local businesses than online yellow pages from a phone company."
According to a study by A Couple of Chicks Marketing firm, the younger generation is very patient when searching. Fifty-three percent of those surveyed by A Couple of Chicks say they go to as many pages as they need until they find the answer, with only 18 percent sticking to the first page.
With 79 percent of the teens stating they have never clicked on a sponsored ad, most said they believe most of what they see on the first page is some sort of advertising whether it is not.
Other findings from that report showed Expedia has clearly done the best job of building their brand with Gen Y. Over 56 percent of the respondents said their families had booked a vacation on Expedia. Hotels.com came in second at 28 percent. Identical statistics were cited when asked if they had ever visited any travel sites.
From a marketing perspective, teens were not at all familiar with Travelocity, Priceline, Hotwire or even the ability to book travel on Brand sites. The survey concluded these habits will have an influence on future purchases as this group ages and begins to book their own travel.
Getting to customers early is what many are shooting for. In April, Toyota started a campaign to promote its Scion car in an unusual place Whyville.net an online community that caters to 8-to-15 year olds. These kids can't reach the pedals, let alone buy the car. The hope is that they will influence their parents' purchase or grow up and have some brand loyalty to Toyota.
Toyota claims that just 10 days into the campaign, the word "Scion" was used in Whyville.com's online chats more than 78,000 times; hundreds of virtual Scions were purchased, using "clams," the currency of Whyville; and the community meeting place "Club Scion" was visited 33,741 times. These online Scion owners customized their cars, drove around the virtual Whyville and picked up their Scion-less friends for a ride.
Cadillac has used similar tactics and incorporated its cars in a game for Microsoft's Xbox.
What some say works is to reverse the marketing process from aiming for awareness to achieving shared network respect. Let teens have an influence in shaping your brand's identity. Build trust with teens by using words and images that make your website feel like a place (a destination or world); create friendly characters that encourage kids to identify with products and companies; develop Interactive games and activities that get kids to return; develop clubs that teens can join; offer contests, quizzes and brand-related games; and use bold graphics.
Just remember there are a host of issues to consider when dealing with highly impressionable teens. Parents are clearly worried about internet access exposing their children to sexual predators, to values they do not agree with or to ideas that their children are not ready to see or understand.
A nationwide poll conducted by Common Sense Media in 2006 found the No. 1 media concern for parents has shifted from television to the Internet. Currently, 85 percent of parents say the Internet poses the greatest risk to their children among all forms of media, compared to 13 percent who consider television the biggest risk.
So, if you don't want parents to use parental controls to block your site, be sensitive to what might be considered parental concerns and that way you'll keep the parents happy and the kids coming back.
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Freda Douglas is a published author. Her first book "Cherish the Past", still available on Amazon.com, was published in 2004. Her second book "Winds of Change"
is now available at your local book store by using this ISBN # 978-1-60145-367-9
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