The rules of engagement: Do brands know how to market to younger audiences?


The problem with marketers is that by the time they get half decent at their job, they're out of the age bracket of people they're trying to sell to. Are brands clear on how to market to younger audiences? Cassie Fidler outlines the approach they should take to ensure a fruitful relationship.

Us ‘youths’ of today are among the biggest spenders out there, accounting for an estimated £20 billion in the UK economy each year. We enjoy spending our money and are often the most impulsive spenders, making us the perfect focus for brands to sell their products. They want positive, lifelong relationships with us but the trouble is, they aren't clear on how best to market to younger people.

It all centres around engagement. A teacher wouldn’t walk into a classroom expecting results from pupils who were disengaged. The process is the same with marketing, if we’re engaged then we’re interested and if we’re interested we’ll invest.

So, how can brands engage with a younger demographic?

Get to know us. One of the most important steps that a brand can take in marketing to younger audiences is to fully understand us. Successful marketing strategies are built around research. Brands need to understand youth culture, our habits and our interests.

Know where to find us. Technology is entirely integrated into our lives and we spend so much of our time online, interacting with social media. More and more brands are using this to their advantage and they’re right to do so. We are much more likely to take notice of a tweet, Facebook post or Instagram snap than we are a billboard or newspaper ad.

Entertain us. We love to be entertained, it’s the source of everything we do in our younger years. Considering we’ll spend hours on the net watching videos of animals doing funny things, posting entertaining videos, games or memes can be a useful marketing tool for brands.

Touching upon our emotions, in a positive way, will make us think of a brand as fun, cool and relatable. We happily waste away minutes on the internet so brands might as well take the opportunity to give us activities and entertainment to better sell themselves.

Create winning chances. Many brands are using competitions to market themselves these days and we love it. The idea that we can enter a competition and possibly win something we want gives us the incentive to stick around. If it’s something we particularly want but don’t win we’re much more likely to go straight out and buy it anyway...but at least we had a shot at winning!

‘Buy’ our love. Incentives are a certified way to please us and will help a brand stick in our minds and we’ll probably provide a lot more content for the brand's social media. Freebies also act as a 'try before you buy' policy which is important to us.

There is nothing worse than buying something only to discover it is faulty or not as expected because then begins the gruelling process of complaints and returns and this brings me on to the next point.

Make our lives easier. Everyone wants an easier life and that’s why the internet is so popular. Knowing that we can shop, socialise, create, be entertained and learn all at the click of a button is extremely convenient.

It’s particularly true for younger people who still have somewhat of a teenage mentality when it comes to effort. If offers and information can come to us, then it makes life that little bit simpler.

Make an effort with us. One thing we don’t want is a conversation, we know when we’re being sold to and have absolutely no interest in being harassed. Brands which respond to our tweets and follow us back are much more likely to win over our hearts.

It’s also a good marketing opportunity, brands need to use this to their advantage. Even if a customer comments something negative it’s an opportunity to respond with something positive and create a winning marketing plea. With that in mind, it’s wise for customer service and marketing teams to work in harmony together.

A few brands that get it right

TOMS is a brand that really hits the nail on the head when marketing to younger audiences.


We want to make a difference and feel that we’re helping the world that we live in and we love fashion. TOMS shoes are comfortable, stylish, reasonably priced and, with all that, in buying a pair we get to give back to society.

They market with photographs on their products with simple sentences which mention adventure and exploring, things which are important to many young people. TOMS don’t over market, there’s no pressure or harassment and they don’t try to be something they’re not. Their marketing strategy is clear, simple and positive.

Love Layla is a relatively small brand which is rapidly growing in popularity.

The brand creates hilarious cards which captivate the humorous side to life events and occasions. The reason Love Layla has been highlighted is because it’s another brand that communicates well with consumers, often posting photographs directly from customers who have received their cards.

They share funny posts which are often the deeper thoughts of youthful and darker humour, not to mention they throw in the odd competition here and there!

Kopparberg knows the importance socialising has to our lives and they centre much of their marketing and branding around being sociable with friends.

They are particularly good at altering their marketing so that it fits well all year round, they really make the most of the seasons! It’s clear they’ve taken the time to understand what we want and what we like.

Another positive for Kopparberg is that occasionally they throw in offers for a free trial of a new flavour and welcome feedback which often leads to good banter, all of which further promotes their fun and carefree style as a brand.

What all of these brands do so well is keep their marketing current, it’s topical and reaches out to the humor, desires and interests of younger audiences. They use a combination of content from photographs to videos with relevant and clear information. These are the sorts of brands we enjoy following, who communicate back and make our lives just a little more interesting.

Do you need help with your digital marketing strategy? Have a chat to the Sookio team and we'll help you connect with the audiences you need to reach.