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Friday, June 22, 2012

Generational Economics: Pre-adulthood (Teens and Adolescents)

Trend Observation:  Do you know what the average teenager spends during the course of one week?  Before you settle on a specific number, let me confess that I do not know the answer to that question, at least not as a marketer.  But I do know the answer from the perspective of being a parent.  How much money does a teen spend in a week?  All of it!

In fact, it could be argued that they spend more than 100% of their money.  Because in addition to the income they might generate through a job or allowance, they often spend at least some of their parents’ money, too.  Teenagers are not a wise market to overlook, because the money they have access to could be described as almost entirely discretionary. 

(Caveats and counter-trends:  Many teens are responsible for maintaining their own smartphone contract and paying for their monthly gaming expenses.  Some buy their own clothes, and some even have a car payment.  And post-recession, more teens are helping out with general household expenses when a family has been impacted by job loss.)  

Marketing Implications:  If you’re not convinced just how big the potential is in marketing to pre-adults, just ask some people who sell X-Box or PlayStations, Droids or iPhones, or Abercrombie & Fitch.  In addition to being ravenous about their consumption of entertainment and fun (in-theater movies, theme parks, parties, etc.), they are playing an ever-growing role in procuring goods for the household; grocery and other shopping needs are often delegated to the youth of a household, especially when there is more than one head-of-household that is employed outside the home. 

And by the way, the older-end of this spectrum is also behind the wheel.

Which of your products and services fit into the pre-adult life stage?  Have you found the best ways to connect with these consumers?  (Beyond traditional media, they are fanatics about social networking and micro-blogging; but getting into their group is not always easy and requires both finesse and authenticity.)  And when you think about the life-value potential of gaining customers in their youth… the payoff can be remarkable.    

Mike Anderson, for The Marketing Mind consumer trends blog, service of The Center for Sales Strategy.  

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