Marketing To Youth: The 10 Bes

It’s 2018 and marketing is on fire. Younger generations now have an even more heightened awareness of marketing. They are a more politicized, more engaged, more open, more socially conscious and socially minded audience. In this charred landscape, you either get burned or you get lit.


“Missing the Mark” is when a marketing team is ‘out of whack’. Whether it be culturally or socially, they don’t (or didn’t) have a ‘youth sensor.’ Missing the mark is when marketing flies in the face of responsible brand behaviour.

Among youth, there is an expectation for better.

“The 10 Bes” can be used to make decisions internally to champion youth, excel in youth marketing and make sure you “Don’t Miss the Mark”!


1) Be a problem solver. This means thinking beyond marketing campaigns and actually thinking about brand initiatives that solve specific problems, particularly social issues. We know from our Youth Culture Uncovered research, that 85% of young people want to want to help others and 78% wanting to have a positive impact on society. Brands that are winning in this context are brands that committed to operational change. For example, Adidas have committed to only using recycled plastics in the production of its shoes by 2024.

2) Be a skills builder. You’ve probably being reading in marketing and opinion pieces around ‘Generation Sensible’ or ‘Generation Serious’. Young people are getting serious about their own future. 60% of young people we engaged with for Youth Culture Uncovered see themselves as more ambitious than their parent’s generation. They are innately entrepreneurial and a natural inclination to lean towards digital to help their progression. The brands that are leading in this space are those that are firstly respectful of their ambition to succeed and secondly dedicated to providing them with learning opportunities to grow, personally and professionally.

3) Be a productivity ninja. Young people are increasingly looking to spend their time well and seek to manage their thaasophobia - a fear or idleness and boredom. 80% claim to value being productive (making, doing, creating). Brands that are leading in this space are adding value through the lens of “productivity” via “phy-digital” (physical & digital collisions) services, hacks, video tutorials, and DIY on-demand services, as well as engagement programmes that tap into their desire for creative self-expression.

4) Be like a YouTuber. Young people are always on and always ready – to share, to connect, to react... Stand out to them with a commitment to have something new every day. YouTubers have enviable qualities that brands would do well with adopting - intense emotional connections with their fans, being always on, listening in real-time, authentic collaborative spirit. With this, they curate core networks of other, like-minded YouTubers and audiences.

5) Be more Instagram. ‘Doing something creative’ is the 3rd most important thing to young people in the context of how they are taking care of their health. 80% claim that being productive (making, doing, creating) is important to them. Instagram is THE creative platform for today’s youth. Platform behaviours for brands to adopt include: enabling personalised creativity, a multi-disciplinary, mixed media - combination of film styles, animation, unique framing, retro design aesthetic, brash colourways, clashing internet cultures, pop art, stickers & gifs.

6) Be less selfish. Generosity of spirit. It’s not all about you, or your logo, or those sign ups. Make it about them. If you so, you’ll both win in the end.

7) Be straight up. Being straight up means excelling in delivering and communicating functionality and not over-promising who and what you are. Don’t over-complicate things. Be transparent, honest, sometimes self-deprecating. Speak with respect, by having a with the realities of young people’s lives. The brands that are winning here are clearly communicating product benefits and are involving young people in the communications process to ensure their tone is not patronizing, judgmental or plain boring.

8) Be more Kaepernick.

9) Be more live. As a cohort, young people are meeting up in person less than before. Yet, they still crave human face-to-face interactions. There is a genuine need to create moments that bring young people together in real and live ways that celebrate a moment in time. Think about how you can deliver something truly unique in this context. How can you be the brand that is the centre of their life, for an hour, a day or a week?

10) Finally, Be shrinklike. Listen to young people, without judgement. Be respectful. Shrinks help people find ways to have higher self-awareness. Help your organisation, your brand has a higher level of self-awareness on how your brand/company can, or will, be perceived.

Which of the 10 will you lead with? Take some time to figure out what's right for your brand or organisation.

See also

Marketing To Youth: Don't Miss The Mark
Marketing To Youth: Don't Miss The Mark

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Nike Just Did It: Why youth think the new Nike rules
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