New study sheds light on marketing to teens

For many digital marketers, there is one market that remains elusive and very hard to reach – teenagers. Many brands, particularly those in tech and electronic industries, are desperate for a piece of the teen market, believed to be worth billions.

For other brands, marketing to teens is important for another reason. They tend to be early adopters, and they haven’t clearly defined their brand preferences yet. Become one of their favourite brands and you could have a customer for life, one with surprising purchasing power for someone so young.

Why is marketing to teens so tricky?

In previous decades, many teens took their cues on what to like, buy and listen to from the media, or from older generations. Today’s youngsters discover and make trends for themselves, and these trends change all the time, making it more difficult for brands to find out what they actually want. Today’s teenagers also tend to be less loyal to brands than previous generations, hopping to another ‘favourite’ when the next new product comes out.

A glimpse into the global digital habits of 16-19 year olds

New research has now provided digital marketing professionals with a glimpse into the online habits of teens. The study, from GlobalWebIndex, has generated a huge amount of data about how 16-19 year olds use the internet. Key findings include the following:

  • Over 50% use the internet to stay in touch with friends, while over 40% use it to research or find products to buy
  • 37% said that their favourite brand plays an integral part in their online life
  • Relatively few teens are willing to pay for entertainment if they can find it online for free, with only 21% paying for music downloads. However, 1
  • In a typical month, 30% of teens used Google Play, whilst just 6% used Now TV
  • 83% of teens own a laptop, 78% own a smartphone and 34% own a tablet – whilst 9% have a smartwatch

Preferred platforms and destinations

The GlobalWebIndex study found that Instagram, SnapChat and YouTube remain the most popular online destinations for teens, with around 14% using SnapChat globally (3 in 10 US teens now use the service). The report also found that:

  • Around 50% watch vlogs via platforms like YouTube every month, but only 15% use them to discover new brands and even less use them to research products.
  • Google, YouTube, Facebook, Yahoo and Amazon are the top 5 websites visited by teens globally (in that order)
  • 75% of teens use the internet to watch video clips, whilst the next favourite online activities include checking information on music (66%), using social networking sites (66%) and searching for products or services to buy (62%)

What does it all mean?

There is, of course, no magic formula for marketing to teens, but the findings of the research should give marketers a much clearer insight into their target audience – how they are using the internet, which devices they use, which platforms they prefer. Once you have a clearer idea of how this age group digests content and how they pick up on trends, it makes it much easier to get into the ‘teen mind-set’ and develop effective, dynamic campaigns.

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