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Teens. A mighty online force!

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In today’s marketplace, teen consumers have more purchasing power than ever before. The pervasive use of social media among teens provides businesses with a complex, but extremely effective way to target them. 

Teens are a force to be reckoned with, on many fronts–but marketing to teenagers has always been notoriously tricky. If your strategy has been to just avoid the issue entirely, your business is losing a valuable source of revenue and market share. Here are some startling numbers on teenage consumer spending back in 2012 from Statistics Brain.

• Teenagers (12-17) spent $208b in the U.S. in 2012. That’s almost double what families spend on food, clothing and entertainment combined.
• Three out of four teenagers report they will be spending the same or more in 2013/14.
• Eight out of 10 teenage girls report “shopping” as one of their hobbies.
• More than half say that their opinions “greatly influence” the buying decisions of their friends.

In short, teens represent a pool of shoppers with tremendous disposable income. That pool is growing and they are extremely influential among their peers. And importantly, the best way to reach them is not through advertising.

The Social Teen
Until something better comes along, Facebook remains the No. 1 social network for teens today. Ninety-four percent of teens who are online have a Facebook account, far outpacing presence on all other social networks. There are some conflicting online stats about teenagers and social media in terms of what’s hot and what’s the new platform, but one thing is certain: platforms matter less to them than content. They are adept at sharing across networks when they find something relevant to their community.

The real challenge is in listening and trying to understand what matters to them. Here’s a look at the strategy for one company that has made a fortune marketing to teens: Apple.

Apple: The Master of Teen Marketing
Why does a company that been around for over 30 years seem so young? Because so many young people have adopted their gadgets. Their strategy: Start with something small that they need and build an empire. In Apple’s case, it was teens’ love of music and the search for a low-cost, portable way of delivering it. The iPod is both media and player in one piece with one simple button. That made life easier for teens and it set the stage for all the iPhones and iPads to come. The other big lesson here is that they designed the iPod for a younger audience, but their marketing wasn’t teen-specific. Teens know when they are being talked down to and they don’t want kid’s stuff.

That’s really the heart of marketing to teens.
Listen, don’t tell. Along the way, they might even teach you something about marketing.

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