N ORDER TO have insight into the teenage market and to begin to consider ways in which N ORDER TO have insight into the teenage market and to begin to consider ways in which

N ORDER TO have insight into the teenage market and to begin to consider ways in which - PDF document

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N ORDER TO have insight into the teenage market and to begin to consider ways in which - PPT Presentation

Most important perhaps is to under stand ways in which we can communicate with this highly complex age group To help us do that it is worth looking at how teenagers communicate with each other how they com municate or maybe fail to communicate with ID: 35662

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Teenage angst ©World Advertising Research Center 2003Advertising & Marketing to ChildrenApril–June 2003Most adults look back on their teenage years with the humour of hindsight,but for those young people actually reassurance they need,when faced with suchantipathy.Especially important to teenagers is food anddiet.It is frequently at this age,12–14,that chil-dren develop real fads about food,perhaps mostalarmingly developing eating disorders,ormaybe opting to become vegetarian or vegan.This can come about partly to distinguish them-selves from the rest of the family,but also ofcourse because body image is very important,and often distorted,at this age.So a girl mayview her developing body with fear and trepida-tion,alarmed at the rate at which her breasts andhips are growing,illustrating so clearly the endIt is at this point that many parents feel theyare ‘loosing’their teenager,as,in a very healthyway,the child moves from family to friends(Figure 1).The peer group is of course para-mount to the teenage years,and rejectingparental values,and moreover all adult values,allows the move towards adulthood to begin.Parents and teachers become less the source ofall wisdom and knowledge,and teenagersactively seek new ways to dress,new and differ-ent music to listen to,new language,and havenew and different aspirations.They need to dis-tinguish themselves,even from their olderbrothers and sisters,who up to now they hadprobably followed and copied with awe andadmiration.A great mistake that marketers can make is tothink that,because being a teenager did notseem so long ago (maybe the marketer is still intheir 20s),they know exactly what it is like,andthat they are close enough to understand what isgoing on in the teenage world.This is absolutelynot the case.To a 15-year-old,a 20-year-old,letalone a 26-year-old,is on a different planet.Touse a very brief example,the average person intheir 20s grew up with a huge sense of apathytowards politics and politicians,many not evenbothering to vote.Now in the UK we haveteenagers walking out of school in protestagainst the politicians in this country andAmerica who are demanding war in Iraq.Teenagers today feel they can,and should,takea stance on what is going on in their world,andhow it is shaped in the future;something quite newand possibly not seen since the 1960s and 70s.Stages of developmentIn a physiological sense,teenagers’bodies aregrowing and developing at a huge rate,and thekid who popped out of bed at 7 a.m.bright-eyedand cheerful,often to the despair of exhaustedparents,now has great difficulty in getting out ofbed in the morning.Teenagers become lethargic,inward looking,and spend a long time workingthings out:who they are,where they stand in theworld.Daydreaming reaches its peak at puberty, Teenage angst Advertising & Marketing to ChildrenApril–June 2003 Figure 1Communication Teenagers actively seek new ways todress,new and different music tolisten to,new language,and havenew and different aspirations and less energy means that physical play is sub-stituted by being generally inactive,with manygirls especially giving up physical activity andsport.The lack of physical activity is substitutedby inactive pursuits,such as an increase in lis-tening to music,watching TV,etc.Teenagers are constantly searching for anidentity,in the need to find out who they are.It isfor instance for a group of peers todress in the same way,and I recall that in theschool where I worked for some years as aschool counsellor,there was a bunch of girls inYear 9 (13–14-year-olds) who all wore purpleeye make-up,and who all looked,as far as theycould in their school uniform,as ‘grungy’as waspossible.All,irrespective of their true haircolouring,had their hair dyed black.But then,they may have gone on to change this lookovernight,perhaps some branching off from thatparticular group of friends.Having a completelynew look,and falling out and arguing is alsocharacteristic of this age group,as they searchand explore to find their own personality,andthat of their friends.Role models are importantof course,especially celebrities and soap stars,and they will often have an influence not just onhow teenagers dress,but on behaviour also.CommunicationAbove all,what those of us wishing to under-stand this age group must remember is just howdifferent their form of communication is fromanything that has ever happened before.At Kidsand Youth we run sessions with teenagers onbehalf of clients in which we track language,dress,and music preferences.When we consider communication of coursewe are not just thinking about language.I have written and said it many times before:today’s teenagers really are the first generationto know more,technologically,than their parents.Connecting and communicatingthrough technology holds no fear whatsoever to this age group,and has in fact become global as teenagers connect across the world,creating what I’ve previously described as ‘theglobal youth club’.Today’s teenagers havegrown up on a diet of computer games,theinternet and email,and of course mobilephones.Anyone over 20,and especially a parent,islargely excluded from this highly techno-literatemarket,and in many ways teenagers are becom-ing the marketing decision-makers in the family,consulted by parents on internet connections,channels,games,mobile phones.Not only havethe internet and computer games revolutionisedthe way teenagers communicate,but also thereare more and more opportunities to communi-cate,such as picture messaging through photophones (cleverly using David Beckham to pro-mote Vodaphone),and the recently launched ‘G’In a world where we fear for the safety of theplanet,and with the threat of terrorist attackhanging over us,it is interesting to pause andconsider how global communication maychange the course of events as teenagers activelystrive to connect with each other across theworld.For most of us growing up,our world aschildren and teenagers was fairly limited to ourimmediate environment,family,school,friends,maybe having an annual holiday or two ‘abroad’. Teenage angst Advertising & Marketing to ChildrenApril–June 2003Teenagers are becoming themarketing decision-makers in thefamily,consulted by parents oninternet connections,channels,games,mobile phones (49%).We asked both parents and teenagerswhat they thought the most important reasonwasto call a helpline,and we received quite a differ-ent picture.What parents thought was quitedifferent from the reasons teenagers cited forBy far the most important reason to call a helpline cited by teenagers aged 13–19 wasdrugs,at 43%.But only 8% of parents thoughtthis would be the most important reason.Abuse,which as we saw above was thought bywould call,came out at only 4% by teenagers,compared to 31% by parents.Relationships with friends,thought to be the most important reason by just 7% of parents,came out at 21% by teenagers.And pregnancyand sex,thought by 19% of parents to be most important,was cited by just 9% ofteenagers.We asked both parents and teenagers what they would be most comfortable talking other about,and as you can see fromFigure 2,we receivedfrom each.Parents were confident that they would be comfortable talkingsubjects,including bullying,smoking,drugs,relationships with family,relationships withfriends,physical health,and pregnancy and sex,rating all these subjects in terms of ‘feeling comfortable’in the range 90–96%.But there wasdifference in what teenagers them-selves thought.Take drugs,for example:the reason teenagers gave as the most likely rea-son to call a helpline.While 94% of parents Teenage angst Advertising & Marketing to ChildrenApril–June 2003 Figure 2Subjects parents and teens would feel Base: All parents of teenagers 13–19, n = 510, all teenagers 13–19, n = 510020406080100 TeenagersParentsPregnancyPhysicalwith familyBullying Figure 3Subjects parents and teens would feel Base: All parents of teenagers 13–19, n = 510, all teenagers 13–19, n = 510020406080100 TeenagersParentsphysical, sexual)disorders7% of teenagers wouldn’t talkabout any subject with parents For the first time in many years young peopleare displaying an interest in politics.They arebeginning to realise that their lives,and those oftheir peers,are affected by world events.Theyare increasingly taking issue with,and question-ing,factors that affect people their age,inparticular drugs,homelessness,sexually trans-mitted disease.In a sense a new morality iscreeping in.Not one that sees a return toVictorian values,but one that is steeped in thegrowing ability of teenagers to communicatewith each other on a global scale,through technology.And it allows them to feel theyshould,and do,have a say in what happens inthe world.To communicate with this age group,we must acknowledge their growing ability,and wish,to make their own decisions,and to retain their autonomy.Above all we shouldnever patronise,nor expect them to behave in exactly the same way as teenagers a decade ago. Teenage angst Advertising & Marketing to ChildrenApril–June 2003 Barbie Clarke Barbie@kidsandyouth.comBarbie Clarke has been a youth researcher for 18 years and set up Kids and Youth in January 2002.With a post-graduate qualification in psycho-dynamic counselling,she has worked in a therapeutic setting with young peoplein prison and in school.Barbie was brought into NOP World to set up and run the Family division in 1997where she stayed until the end of 2001.