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The Sound's Guide to Marketing and the New Youth Generation

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Welcome to the second monthly issue of The Sound’s Guide series.
Each month, we will be publishing a simple guide to the stuff we think people who want to be good at strategy, innovation and insight development need to know.
At The Sound we aim to be good at strategy, innovation and insight development and this is how we do it.
This month, we look at Marketing and Generation Edge and identify the 10 things you need to know to effectively engage today’s youth market.
And apologies to those who have just grasped the whole Millennial thing; Millennials are well into their 20s and 30s and have mortgages and cellulite and male pattern baldness.
So let’s meet Gen Edge, the generation coming of age in a world on the edge of collapse and needing some edge to survive (hence the name...).

Published in: Marketing

The Sound's Guide to Marketing and the New Youth Generation

  1. 1. MARKETING AND THE NEW YOUTH GENERATION The Sound Guide - Volume 2 (We call them Generation Edge and yes they are different to Millennials)
  2. 2. THE SOUND GUIDE - VOLUME 2 THE SOUND GUIDE - VOLUME 2 THE SOUND 2 Welcome to the second monthly issue of The Sound’s Guide series. Each month, we will be publishing a simple guide to the stuff we think people who want to be good at strategy, innovation and insight development need to know. At The Sound we aim to be good at strategy, innovation and insight development and this is how we do it. This month, we look at Marketing and Generation Edge and identify the 10 things you need to know to effectively engage today’s youth market. And apologies to those who have just grasped the whole Millennial thing; Millennials are well into their 20s and 30s and have mortgages and cellulite and male pattern baldness. So let’s meet Gen Edge, the generation coming of age in a world on the edge of collapse and needing some edge to survive (hence the name...). GENERATION
  3. 3. Hang on. WHO ARE GENERATION EDGE AND WHY ARE THEY DIFFERENT FROM MILLENNIALS? THE SOUND GUIDE - VOLUME 2 THE SOUND 3 Generation Edge were born from 1995 to 2010, and this means they’re today’s tweens and teens. Basically they’re the new youth generation. They’re very different from Millennials for a whole bunch of contextual reasons. Let’s look at say 5… 2008 and Wall Street and 
 the 1%; Fuck you. That’s all. Gen Edgers don’t have oh-so-nice and helicoptering Boomer parents; they have cynical Gen Xers kicking them out of bed every morning. 
 Gen X parents want their kids be prepared for the real world and tell them that they’re actually kind of average (just like everyone else). The technology honeymoon is 
 over. This generation has seen the downsides of posting everything about your life on social media and the futility of chasing the next must- have gadget. Seeing Millennials with their student debt and no guarantee of a job has made a new generation of young people want to do things a little differently... The world sucks and it’s not fair. 
 This generation are aware of 
 that unlike no other... SO, GENERATION EDGE HAVE GROWN UP IN A DIFFERENT WORLD AND THAT MEANS TO ENGAGE THEM WILL REQUIRE A DIFFERENT SET OF RULES... TIME TO GET A LITTLE MORE ‘EDGY’
  4. 4. THE SOUND GUIDE - VOLUME 2 THE SOUND 4 Generation Edge have grown up watching people have a tough time. And even if they haven’t personally experienced a bit of hardship, they’re certainly able to go online and learn about those less fortunate than themselves. This has made them all nice and less judgmental and given them a desire to help others and make the world a better place. In fact, some of the most famous Gen Edgers are not actors or pop stars; they’re philanthropists like Julia Bluhm or Joshua Wong (check out our 20 under 20 to find out more). So, unlike Millennials who spent a lot of time raising awareness but not actually doing that much, this is a generation that actually does something about it. They walk the walk. So, social causes will become an even more effective means of driving loyalty and differentiating brands from the competition. Now before you start lazily looking for a ‘yoof’ cause, remember that Gen Edge are critical thinkers, and they’ll get all funny if you pick a cause with no fit and a lazy execution before moving on to the next hot sad thing 6 months later. You’d better 
 mean it or Gen Edge will spot it, and then they’ll tell loads of other people, and you’ll wish you’ve never tried to help anyone in the first place... HELP THEM MAKE A difference RULE 1 “They are still young, but I believe we are seeing a shift from the ‘Me’ culture to young people who are more aware of their environment and how their choices impact the world around them,” he says. “These are young people who are very much looking at how they can do good in the world.” - Craig Kielburger, co-founder of Free the Children, The Globe and Mail, September 2014
  5. 5. THE SOUND GUIDE - VOLUME 2 THE SOUND 5 Millennials seemed to spend half their youth trying to grow a beard and pretending to be 40. They seemed so desperate to live in the future, presumably when they had that killer job, amazing apartment and the lifestyle their parents promised them would come because they are so like amaaaaaazing (damn you boomers!). Gen Edge don’t have such lofty aspirations. In fact, Gen Edge quite like being young with all its adventures and freedoms and lack of facial hair. So, the first thing this means is that beards are about to become very unfashionable again (like when Phil Collins had one in the 80s.) So remember that when casting. The next thing this means for brands is that youth is something to be celebrated again. Gen Edge are focused on living in the now rather than in some sort of rose- tinted version of the past, or stressing about the future and goals and objectives. The band Fun said it best when they sang, ‘Tonight, we are young, so let’s set the world on fire…' Brands should help Gen Edge enjoy their youth and have a good time. BE IN THE now RULE 2 “They live in the present, not in the perfect.” - iwmarketing.com, June 2015
  6. 6. THE SOUND GUIDE - VOLUME 2 THE SOUND 6 Gen Edge want to do things differently. Actually scrap that, Gen Edge have to do things differently. Growing up in the times they have means they know that following the path of Millennials is unlikely to end in the result they want: stability and happiness. So to achieve their goals, they look to the alternative, the challenger, the rebel... Authenticity was the buzz word of Millennial Marketing; now a new ‘A’ word is in town, and that ‘A’ word is ‘Alternative.’ Brands that recognize that Gen Edge want to do things differently and celebrate the need for alternative culture will be successful. Brands with alternative positionings, imagery, social causes and communication will resonate. Time to get alternative. How cool is that? A generation of non conformist young people again; it’s enough to make an old Gen Xer misty eyed... HELP THEM CELEBRATE THE alternative RULE 3 “They are giving both their attention and their money to people and companies that are unconventional and that are willing to take risks and break the rules. They love crowdfunding platforms like Pozible and Kickstarter, which allow them to support creative products and innovative projects.” – Inc, December 2014
  7. 7. THE SOUND GUIDE - VOLUME 2 THE SOUND 7 Hacktavism is rife amongst Gen Edge, whether it be in education and doing things their own way or with technology and messing with it for the greater good. They like to own, subvert and change things... and this represents a brand opportunity but also a brand risk. Like Millennials, Gen Edge will want to be part of the process, so co- creation isn’t going to go away BUT Gen Edge is a little more subversive, so they are little less trustworthy that those nice Millennials. This means that brands will need to be even more careful to ensure that the message is working, or they’ll rip it to shreds in a very public way. You’re going to have to research ideas even more carefully... Brands will need to accept that Gen Edge will poke fun and play with messaging, so you’ll have to roll with it and see it as a means of generating more noise (and not something to be shut down). In fact, Gen Edge celebrate vulnerability and imperfection (as they see it in themselves and others), so perhaps being a little vulnerable and revealing faults and letting them play with it might not be a bad thing... Hacking IS INEVITABLE RULE 4 “McDonald's launched a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #McDStories; it was hoping that the hashtag would inspire heart-warming stories about Happy Meals. Instead, it attracted snarky tweeps and McDonald’s detractors who turned it into a #bashtag to share their #McDHorrorStories.” - Forbes, Jan 2012
  8. 8. THE SOUND GUIDE - VOLUME 2 THE SOUND 8 We hate having to write this but.... young people have always wanted to be different and yet belong. Ugh. Gen Edge have however taken this human truth to an extreme not quite witnessed before. To belong within this youth generation means you have to be different. That’s right, you have to be unique and different to be part of the pack. This means that diversity is the new uniform and that different is the new normal. So as a brand, you need to be able to offer them as many interesting and obvious means of demonstrating their unique self as possible. So, you’ll need to produce 500 colors, give them 75 options, and let them customize and hack (because they will even if you don’t allow it...). HELP THEM MICROMANAGE individuality RULE 5 “Instagram users...can select their favorite Instagram shot as a background for the Nike Air Max model of their choice, which with the click of a button is customized based on the colors in the photo. From there, users can either purchase the custom-designed shoe or simply share the shot over Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, as well as via an online gallery where users can browse the designs of other Instagram users.” - ClickZ, April 2013
  9. 9. THE SOUND GUIDE - VOLUME 2 THE SOUND 9 Gen Edge are critical thinkers... and that means they’re going to critically think about your brand (if they notice it on one of their 5 screens that they’re watching all at the same time). This means they might think about your advertising and its effect on wellbeing, your product and the sustainability of production, and even how your corporation treats its employees and communities. Gen Edge are going to notice if you’re kind of not paying enough tax. They’re going to notice if your advertising is driving body image concerns or isn’t diverse. They’re going to be pissed if your products are being made by people living below the poverty level...so you need to be nice if you want Gen Edge to be nice to you back. DON’T BE A shit RULE 6 “Victoria’s Secret modified a campaign for its Body by Victoria line on its website from “The Perfect ‘Body’” to “A Body For Every Body.” The controversial slogan sparked a social media uproar and a Change.com petition asking the lingerie company to apologize and alter the wording.” - NYDailyNews.com, November 2014
  10. 10. THE SOUND GUIDE - VOLUME 2 THE SOUND 10 Millennials loved to tell anyone anything and were quite happy to reveal all about their life on social networks. Millennials also encouraged brand involvement in their culture; sponsorship and endorsements were perceived to make everything bigger and better. Generation Edge are a little more secretive about their life and culture (just like Gen X used to be...). This means that they’ll be avoiding permanent records of their conversations, relationships, and interactions. This means that the use of code and imagery will continue to grow as a means of communication. This means that brand involvement may not always be as warmly accepted; perhaps the brand involvement will need to be more subtle or even ‘behind the scenes.’ Brands are going to need to be more respectful of youth culture again... Shh, IT’S A SECRET RULE 7 “Artist Adam Harvey's project at cvdazzle.com shows makeup, hairstyling and fashion techniques that can be used to provide camouflage to guard against facial recognition technology used by Facebook, store cameras or even Google Glass.” - LA Times, November 2014
  11. 11. THE SOUND GUIDE - VOLUME 2 THE SOUND 11 Gen Edge are realists. They’re not idealists like those stressed out Millennials... In fact, they’re quite pragmatic in their approach to life. They’re seeking stability and dependability rather than fantasy and dreams...it’s why they watch so many documentaries. So when it comes to thinking about brands, this means they’re looking for function and efficacy as much as they’re seeking image. It also means that they tend to gravitate to real human stories and real experiences. So don’t just focus on digital. Make sure there’s a real tangible means of interacting with the brand. KEEP IT real RULE 8 “It seems that Gen Z inherits its love of good storytelling from the Millennials, with 67 percent of the respondents saying that they are more interested in narratives and content that have realistic endings. Further, they are nearly twice as likely to want to see “real people” rather than celebrities endorse products and brands.” - Dididay.com, April 2015
  12. 12. THE SOUND GUIDE - VOLUME 2 THE SOUND 12 Gen Edgers love YouTube and its unfiltered, real and sometimes downright weird content. And they love to become YouTube stars in their own right. AwesomenessTV created a YouTube youth focused hub with 70,000 channels, made up of Vlogs, shows and advice and, well, check it out. It’s a Gen Edge immersion experience without leaving your sofa... These 70,000 channels feature thousands of Gen Edgers who have a millions of followers. More young people watch these YouTube shows and clips than watch most TV programs, and some Gen Edgers are genuine celebrities as a result. This is the first generation ever for whom they are a brand’s target and media platform (at the same time). If you don’t feel old right now, you should... THEY ARE YOUR channel RULE 9 “Watching a YouTube video by an influencer is equivalent to chatting candidly with the most popular kids in class, having them recommend their favorite products and ideas for you to then make your own.” - CMO.com, October 2014
  13. 13. THE SOUND GUIDE - VOLUME 2 THE SOUND 13 Multi-tasking is an oxymoron, a myth and marketing nightmare. Multi-tasking actually means no-one is paying attention (honestly, it’s been proven by academics). Gen Edge apparently are more distracted and conducting more tasks at the same time (badly) than even Millennials. They are being talked about as the ‘5 Screen Generation’ (phone, tablet, TV, watch, laptop), meaning they could be watching 5 screens all at once (and not paying attention to any of them). This means that brands that have big ideas will cut through. This means that brands that communicate in a way that grabs their limited attention will be noticed. This means executions need to get to the point quickly (less than 5 seconds) or risk being be skipped... YOU’RE GOING TO NEED SOME edge RULE 10 "They're constantly on the lookout for something different, fresh and exciting. And they want to share it immediately. It's almost a treasure hunt for them." - Jim Fielding, global head of consumer products and retail at AwesomenessTV, AdAge, May 2015
  14. 14. THE SOUND GUIDE - VOLUME 2 THE SOUND 14 SO GO GET some edge… Thank you for reading the second of The Sound Guides. We hope you enjoyed the experience and please come back next month when we’ll be publishing the next slightly offensive guide to strategy, innovation and understanding the world. Insight is art, no matter what big data says. Go on, contact us at info@thesoundhq.com. We’d love to hear from you!
  15. 15. V A N C O U V E R | N E W Y O R K | L O N D O N | T O R O N T O | C H I C A G O | M U M B A I W W W . T H E S O U N D H Q . C O M
  16. 16. IMAGE REFERENCES SLIDE SITE 1 https://risingrockbands.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/893929_160259754140318_2141282220_o-1.jpg 3 https://risingrockbands.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/893929_160259754140318_2141282220_o-1.jpg 4 http://grist.org/climate-energy/check-out-these-great-photos-of-the-nyc-climate-march/ 5 https://secrethandbook4teens.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/jump-for-joy.jpg 6 https://i-d.vice.com/en_gb/article/mourning-the-death-of-transgender-teen-activist-blake-brockington 7 http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/wp-content/uploads/sites/23/2014/12/KhodeUp-table.gif 8 http://content.nike.com/content/dam/one-nike/en_us/season-2013-ho/Shop/NIKEiD/NIKEiD_P2_Basketball_20131112_FILT.jpg 9 http://www.teenagefilm.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/IMG_2416-1024x768.jpg 10 http://i.ytimg.com/vi/NG0DMSxmeYI/maxresdefault.jpg 11 http://www.celesteprize.com/artwork/ido:268258/ 12 http://www.trbimg.com/img-5500702f/turbine/la-et-ct-awesomenesstv-dreamworks-verizon-content-20150311 13 http://www.sabinabecker.com/media/megaphone-boy.jpg 16THE SOUND THE SOUND GUIDE - VOLUME 2
  17. 17. FACTS REFERENCES 17THE SOUND THE SOUND GUIDE - VOLUME 2 SLIDE SITE 4 http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/giving/generation-z-the-kids-wholl-save-the-world/article20790237/?page=all 5 http://www.iwmarketing.com/blog/next-level-marketing-generation-z/ 6 http://www.solutionstalk.com/home/2015/03/13/foodie-friday-app-based-appetite-generation-zs-food-scene-future/ 7 http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2012/01/24/mcdstories-when-a-hashtag-becomes-a-bashtag/ 8 http://www.clickz.com/clickz/news/2264540/nike-gears-customized-shoe-campaign-to-instagram-users 9 http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/victoria-secret-alters-controversial-perfect-body-slogan-article-1.2001770 10 http://www.latimes.com/fashion/la-ig-edge-generation-20141102-story.html#page=2 11 http://www.dmnews.com/direct-line-blog/the-subtle-differences-between-gen-y-and-gen-z/article/407587/ 12 http://www.cmo.com/articles/2014/9/25/marketing_to_gen_z_a.html 13 http://adage.com/article/cmo-strategy/informed-millennial-misses-brands-retool-gen-z/298641/

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