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Employed in the Booming Youth Market Published: Sunday, April 30, 2000 By: Dr. Manuel Angel Morales

The youth market has always been an important one, but with the inclusion of kids is now bigger then ever. Such an interesting trend presents core lessons on the changing nature of todayís very young consumer. As recent research is beginning to show, the youth market is becoming vital, growing, dynamic, fun, adventurous, opportunistic and challenging. What is the configuration of this new business, work and employment niche?

Kids are reading more and are acquiring more product awareness at early ages largely due to the consumer education and publicity that market strategies are giving them. Even children under 5 years of age, directly or indirectly, are having more influence on parentsí buying decisions, regardless of social and economic considerations. Again, as social investigations show, kids favor newer shows, forcing TV programming segmentation and the offering of more variety of programs than ever before. Kids are getting exposed to computers at increasingly younger ages and parents like children computer activities to be geared toward education and artistic experiences. Kids are spending an average of 25 hours each week watching TV, making this their principal activity. Children, ages 4 to 12, view an estimated 20,000 TV ads every year. Boys are featured and targeted more often in ads than girls. Girls will more commonly be interested in boysí toys than boys will be interested in girlís toys.

To the question of, who is doing this socialization job? The answers is that to the present TV remains the principal medium of reaching children. Of course, kidsí lifestyles are becoming more diverse with magazines, and the internet in particular is offering new channels and means to reach them.

An interesting current strategy has been that of promoting childrenís items by using licensed images, such as favorite TV or comic strip characters, movie, music stars and athletes, has proven to be amazingly effective marketing tool. So, why is that? Because it touches an emotional chord with the children who are attached to certain characters and images. Even though the parents make the purchases, they tend to be very aware of their childrenís favorite idols and often buy products that feature those idols. This is the case for Ricky Martin, MDO, BackStreet Boys and NíSync, among others. Thus, sometimes kids are eager to get a product for the logo as for the product itself!

Researchers warn with respect to common mistakes that marketers make while trying to approach kids. First, donít assume kids are little adults. They are not. Second, donít hesitate to use advertising and promotional methods that are time-tested and work with youngsters. Third, donít believe that special effects and exciting visuals will carry the day in a marketing way. Fourth, overcome the possibility of failing to connect with your kids audience.

Contemporary marketing wisdom presents several rules for marketing to youngsters:

  • Do recognize the uniqueness of the youth audience.
  • Do target kids carefully, as there are multiple audiences with the wide domain of kids.
  • Donít take kids for granted.
  • Donít manipulate.

A word on social responsibility. A most important topic among parents concerning youth marketing is the taste in which it is done. Be mindful of parental sensitivities. In addition to TV, be ready to use other ways to spread the message. Consider incorporating licensed images into the marketing strategy because they prove to be the most effective way to grab the attention and the interest of young people.

Be ready to adapt. We are referring a highly fluid kidís market, where interest and tastes change with the season.


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