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Teenager, screenager

HARISH BIJOOR
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Today’s teens are creatures of comfort _ NAGARA GOPAL
Today’s teens are creatures of comfort _ NAGARA GOPAL

Marketing to her means understanding this animal who was born into a time of plenty and is spoilt for choice.

Today’s teenage segment represents a big market opportunity. How do you read them? And what are the tips to market to them?

_ Rohit Keshav, Mumbai

Rohit, the teenager of the 2000 series of years is essentially a very different animal. Remember, for a start, that we are all animals. And understand her first.

This consumer was born into an era of plenty, relatively. Whether we talk urban, ‘rurban’ or rural audiences, this is true. This is a generation that has not seen strife of the conventional kind. It is a generation that has not seen wars, not heard war sirens that made many a child scurry into dug-outs in their schools like I did in 1971, when I was all of seven years old, nor is it a generation that has faced sugar or rice shortages. It is a generation that has seen a completely different picture of the world at large. And in many ways, this has shaped its world view.

In most urban centres, I call this generation the ‘commode generation’. Do a quick check in our cities and find out how many of the 2,000-series types use Indian-style toilet facilities in their homes. You will find that to be a minuscule number. The WC is part of standard toilet accoutrement in modern homes. This generation, therefore, starts its morning with a sense of comfort. The ones who use the Indian-style toilets know pain and discomfort. They start their day bearing their body weight on their haunches for seven minutes. Their world view is different. That life is tough is ingrained into them, unlike in the commode generation which sits on the throne with a newspaper and starts the day with the feeling that life is easy.

This new-gen consumer is, therefore, oriented to a greater degree of easy life, wants comforts, seeks out the short-cut, believes in intelligent work rather than hard work, and believes in working out at a gym rather than at work. This is, of course, a broad generalisation, as there are teenagers around in our smaller towns and villages who still lead the tough life. Many of them are not in the consumer market for products and services at all.

The millennium's teenager is also a ‘screenager’ at large. His and her life is very visual. Several screens dominate their lives. The television, the desktop, the laptop, the tablet and the mobile phone are the many screens in their lives. This means that the attention span of the teenager is split across several mediums. The attention span of the teenager is also very, very short. The sense of boredom with brands and people is quick. The degree of promiscuity with both brands and people will, therefore, be freer than the generation of teenagers we have seen go by. This is a variety-seeking generation at large. A generation that is impatient, gets bored quick and changes fast. This generation is a maverick in its choices, and damning in its quick judgments of brands, fashions and people alike. Marketers need to, therefore, learn this new tone and tenor of marketing to young people.

This generation seeks out more virtual friends than real. A recent study conducted by my company (Harish Bijoor Consults Inc) reveals that an average teenager in the big eight cities has an average of 62 virtual friends online and has only 11 friends in real life. This generation is very comfortable taking all their dealings on to the Web. At least the ones that do not require a forcible physical interaction.

Understanding this generation is the first task at hand for the keen marketer.

Does in-film advertising help increase sales?

- Soniya P. Dahiya, Chandigarh

Sonia, yes and no. More no. In-film branding and advertising increases positive recall scores for brands. May not result in an outright sale, but will certainly get the brand positive strokes that are vital to it. These positive strokes are helpful in getting the brand into the consideration set of purchase.

When you use this marketing tool, it is important to assess the segmented audience the film has the ability to garner. Having done that, brands need to decide how overt or covert their advertising and branding actions will be. Even in terms of in-film placement of brands, you can move from a covert score of 2 to 100. More covert the effort, more subliminal the messaging strength. And vice versa.

I am still confused about the effect of celebrity endorsement on brands. Help! How does one use a celebrity?

_ Lohit Patnaik, New Delhi

Lohit, celebrity endorsement must be seen not as a knee-jerk short term activity. Brands that use celebrities as long-term assets that you associate your brand with do better than those who use celebrities as short-term properties to perk up consumer interest. Celebrity endorsement use must be a long-term Indian marriage and not a short-term dalliance. Don't be promiscuous with your brand endorser as well.

Show commitment. This advice goes both ways to the company and the brand endorser as well.

Brand endorsers must remember that consumers are also assessing the credibility of the star in question. If you endorse far too many brands, you are spreading your personal equity a bit too thin, and your viewers and consumers will respect you that much less.

An Ustaad Zakir Hussain, who endorsed Taj Mahal tea for most of his life, is that much more respected than possibly any of our current day stars from Hindi cinema and Indian cricket alike, who advertise, at times, thirteen-and-a-half brands simultaneously. Today you are a paint, tomorrow you are a car and day after tomorrow you are a pen. In the bargain, your viewers are confused. They know it that you are doing it for the money, and nothing much else. And that's negative sentiment on your personal brand equity. While you the brand endorser go laughing all the way to the bank, your personal equity has gone to the cleaners.

(Harish Bijoor is a business strategy specialist and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.askharishbijoor@gmail.com )

(This article was published on November 15, 2012)
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