January 30th, 2008

Portrait of a Young Consumer

By Jessica Vosgerchian
Michigan Daily

You, Mr. or Ms. youth demographic, aren’t as mysterious as you may think. Market researchers know how often you wash your clothes and how you met your last love interest - they’ve spent millions tracking it. Recent data shows the archetypal young consumer has changed over the last decade. Here’s how advertisers plan to capitalize on it.

Cyber lovers

Finding love online has been taboo since the advent of singles chatrooms on AOL. Still, those couples in Match.com commercials look so happy! And, admit it, you’ve toyed with the idea of making a profile, or have at least perused other people’s dating personas.

If you haven’t, a couple of your friends surely have.

Nearly half of online daters are 18 to 34 years old, according to a study by Mediamark Research Inc.

And while Match.com’s poster couples are generally too balding and love-handled to represent the youth demographic, the lovemaking mega-brand hasn’t left young hearts out of the equation.

Match.com has turned to the trendiest of advertising techniques - Facebook applications - to woo the youth market with the Little Black Book application, which connects users with others on the cyber market.

Suggestion: Add the application, unselect the profile link option and don’t tell anyone until you’re introducing your new love interest to your lonely, still-single friends.

Techie Becky

It’s a conventional advertisement ploy for laptops and cell phones: After the bequeathing of a must-have gadget, a typical teenage girl beams at her Everyman dad.

“Wow - thanks, Daddy! Who knew you were so with it?”

The scene is a conventional advertisement ploy because it’s founded in companies’ emerging awareness that electronics aren’t just boy toys.

While 69 percent of women 18 to 24 years old said they had a say in their families’ electronics purchases in 1998, 91 percent now say they’re involved in the decision-making process, according to Vertis Communications’s Consumer Focus: Decade of Data report.

That means if Mom and Dad want to be hip to the newest technologies they better buy that BlackBerry Pearl for their princess.

It’s a conventional advertisement ploy for laptops and cell phones: After the bequeathing of a must-have gadget, a typical teenage girl beams at her Everyman dad.

“Wow - thanks, Daddy! Who knew you were so with it?”

The scene is a conventional advertisement ploy because it’s founded in companies’ emerging awareness that electronics aren’t just boy toys.

No-laundry Matt

Tide wants to be more to you than just the name on the bottle of translucent blue detergent you don’t use often enough.

After the flop of a youth-oriented web drama, the classic detergent company made a counter-intuitive change to their youth campaign with the creation of an “anti-laundry” sub-brand called Swash, marketingvox.com reported.

Hawking stain-and-odor-removing pens and sprays, the campaign promotes the idea that you don’t really have to involve water in the cleaning of your clothes.

The brand has set up a posh, pillow-laden coffee lounge near Ohio State University’s campus and is sponsoring a web contest to see how many times students can wear their soiled clothes.

It’s likely that Ohio State’s Swash lounge smells of something other than coffee beans.

The urbane drinker

You always knew you weren’t the typical beer-guzzling college co-ed.

You take care to treat your palette to more refined means of inebriation than your “youth market” forebearers, according to a study by marketing research group The Nielsen Company.

Ten years ago, 59 percent of alcohol purchasers ages 21 to 30 preferred beer to other drinks, but just 47 percent hold that preference among the twenty-somethings of today, who more often opt for wine and designer cocktails.

Marketing researchers attribute the shift to the “millennial” generation’s “thirst for new experiences” and note that young people are “willing to pay a high premium for alcoholic beverages.”

In other words, they know you’ll pay too much for a bright-colored wine cooler with an exotic name.

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