Michael Wood, from TRU, Vice President and Director of Syndicated Research spoke at the National American Camp Association Conference on the marketing research at TRU. Michael Wood is responsible for the TRU Subscription, the ongoing youth intelligence program relied on by more than 150 of the world’s leading youth-oriented brands.
Teens have a high expectation for quality and are a sophistic market. 30% of teens consider themselves democrats with 27% saying “I don’t care.”
70% have prayed in the past month – spirituality is on the rise with 49% saying their faith is an important part of their life.
Theme #1: Babied Boom Generation
The Baby Boom is raising the generation of the ‘Babied Boom’ – being coddled and over protected by society as a whole. We can see this play out in the world of the rich and famous young people. We are starting to know the celebrity parents as much as their kids because these parents are around and enmeshed in the lives of their celebrity teens. Perhaps the Baby on Board Sign should be replaced with Parents on Board. Teens expect their parents to be their personal cheerleader and parents oblige, they adore their kids.
Here are some statistics on the connection kids these days have with their family.
59% say family dinners are on the way in.
Among the 12-15 yr olds: 84% turn to parents to help and advise and 1% to themselves.
Among the 18-19 yr olds: 83% turn to their parents and 2% to them themselves.
When asked, “Are you pretty sheltered?”
52% 12-15 yr olds agreed
40% 18-19 yr olds agreed
In The Case Against Adolescence: Rediscovering the Adult in Every Teen, Dr. Robert Epstein concluded that American teens are, on the average, just as competent as American adults. He argues that we are underestimating the abilities of our teens. His research also shows a link between “infantilization”—the extent to which teens are treated like children—and behavioral problems in teens.
Teenagers have two times as many restrictions as incarcerated felons, ten times as many mainstream adults, and two times as many as active duty marines. They hunger for straight talk & their relationships involve their parents.
Many schools are now using Edline, School Loop, and other such “integrated communication systems” to help students (and parents) track their school progress, grades, homework, on a day-by-day basis. Parents can follow everything about their child right from their computer. Needless to day, teenagers are not that happy with that level of parent involvement. Here are some facebook groups they have started to express thier dismay.
Theme #2: This Babied Generation is a Shameless Mess
Generation Me – Young people more assertive and more miserable than ever before. Due to a considerable amount of praise and cheer leading by parents there is a 30% rise since 1982 in the answer to the question “I am a special person.”
This generation is acting out because of all the over-protection.
Research from the TRU Value Monitor found that 59% of teens say “I’m not perfect but I’d only change a few things about myself” and 44% say cosmetic surgery is “on the way in” or “in.”
Teens are fascinated by the story of adversity but they admire the “good girl” archetype. They say universally that the only mistake someone can make is not taking chances. To them, overcoming adversity is a virtue. The journey is more interesting and honest than the destination.
Theme #3 Mediation Nation
This group lives in a ‘cocoon of technology’ that is harder to break through. Michael Wood talked about the durable purchase index – what teens are likely to buy this year: Top 2 items: smart phones and GPS. Ten years ago the top two items were: yearbooks and backpacks.
When asked how often can a marketer contact you? This group said:
All the Time 9%
Once in a While 67%
Customer relations must consensual – this generation has to choose to hear from you – they want opted in. They also want something of value for their exchange of being marketed to. A good example of the power of this sort of marketing is the X Men movie campaign. It was a big promotion on myspace which gave people an inside track and special features.
Theme #4: Newstalgia – leveraging the gold of old
This is a way to break through the clutter. Kids are into cover bands and heritage. Michael Wood suggested taking a page from yesteryears – make your back story part of you current story. Check out Nike’s vintage ads.
For more of Michael Wood, be sure to attend Camp West 2008 where he will be speaking to camp directors on the application of this research.