How can brands appeal young to people? This is an age-old question. But perhaps one that is important now than ever. For me, a brands ability to attract and entice young people is key to gaining a following; to seduce the young is to introduce the old. It is through the younger generations that friends, parents, grandparents learn of trends – and with technology moving on faster than Simon Cowell’s hair-line receding, this question should be the highest priority for any aspirational brand. But how, exactly, can a brand appeal to young people? The one word I would give to a company trying to entice youngsters? Subtlety.
Why do brands struggle?
Blame Ricky Gervais, Peep Show, the Expenses Scandal or the aggressively blatant marketing of probiotic products, but our generation is more cynical than most. We can see when a brand is trying to be ‘young’. Luring us in with false promises of exceptional service, life-changing technology and ‘the next big thing’… Every beauty product will make us young, every yogurt-drink is ‘friendly’. Every smoothie life-giving and every deodorant ‘intelligent’. We’ve heard it all and we see past it. We have become hardened to the Lexicon of ‘Brands’.
Which is why marketing campaigns that run on a touch of British jaded, self-awareness are those that get our attention most. Take Lynx, it used the fact that fragrances previously had promised ridiculously hyperbolic things to its consumer, the ability to turn your average pre-pubescent spotty boy into a regular Robert Pattinson. They play with expectation in a way that made us smile, and reach for the can. And that’s why the Lynx campaigns have and do work. They play on mutually-shared knowledge and they make fun of themselves. See, we young people don’t like brands that take themselves too seriously. Some of the most notable marketing campaigns of recent years use self-irony. ‘Not just any meal, this is an M and S meal’. Did M and S mean that the food was unlike any others? Yes, they did. And how did they tell you? In a way that was so blantantly obvious, so shamefully self-congratulatory, that you couldn’t help but love them. And heck, they do make a really damn good chocolate fondant…
So perhaps the modern brand, to really attract a young crowd, needs to think outside the box. They must start utilising self-aware taglines and ad campaigns that don’t treat us like your average easy-to-please consumer and marketing campaigns that catch our imagination by making us smile. To make this work, a brand needs to stay on top of trends. Understand what is on the lips and ears of the young. S they too can remain like Lynx: self-aware, self-promotional and smelling faintly of tomorrow.