If I had a dollar for every time someone sniffed dismissively at a digital platform – newer ones like Snapchat and Kik, as well as familiar faces like YouTube – as being something ‘for kids’, well, I’d have an awful lot of dollars. There’s a widespread tendency to minimize the impact and potential of a platform if its earliest adopters aren’t old enough to vote. Here’s two reasons what that’s bad thinking that could be limiting your marketing effectiveness:
- Teenagers have significant purchasing power. Whether or not kids are making purchases themselves, they’re certainly influencing the course of several industries, including beverages – think Red Bull and other energy drinks, which are consumed almost exclusively by young adults – and women’s apparel, where teen demand for plus size clothing has more than doubled.
- Those ‘kids’ are older than you think. The graphic below is informative, but also misleading. The youngest group measured – 16 to 24 – actually spans several developmental stages: you have high school students, college kids and young professionals all grouped together. The life experiences and priorities of these people may vary widely, yet they’re united by their choice of social media tools. If your target market skews to the older end of this demographic, it can be well worth establishing a presence on the platform: even if people who see your content aren’t your customers yet, there’s better than good odds they will be in the future – early brand exposure has been found to be key in developing brand loyalty.
What we know about digital platform adoption is this: young people, especially those who have lived their entire lives with a smartphone available to them, are often among the first to populate a new digital space. Eventually adults follow; protective parents and foreword-thinking marketers are generally the first on scene. Some platforms will reach a tipping point where mainstream brands and the 24+ set use it; at that point, younger users, who have an interest in expressing themselves without being observed by parents and other interested parties, move on to a new site.