Getting Wiser to Teens: More Insights into Marketing to Teenagers

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9781885070548: Getting Wiser to Teens: More Insights into Marketing to Teenagers

This new and expanded update of Peter Zollo's popular Wise Up to Teens gives readers a thorough understanding of what teens think, feel, and need, what they do, what they buy, and how marketers should--and shouldn't--reach them.

Brimming with invaluable insights and information, Getting Wiser to Teens examines:

- The economic clout of the teen market

- The teen "need states" and how they should guide your strategies

- Why and how teens are unique media consumers

- How to increase your brand's teen-relevancy

- How teens really view family and school

- Advertising and promotions that resonate with teens

- The role of friends in teens' lives

- Teen trends, social status, and music

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Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Family as Friends

By now you’re probably convinced that today’s teens place tremendous value on family and enjoy spending time with their parents. But do they (or could they) consider their family members to be friends? We put forth this question to teens in The TRU Study, asking our national sample not only if they consider family members to be friends, but also which family members are accorded this status.

The findings are more good news for parents: on average, respondents consider a total of four family members or relatives to be friends, and 70 percent view at least one parent as a friend. Again, mom ranks number one, with nearly two-thirds of teens (among those who consider any family member a friend) naming her. Remarkably, a cousin is next, beating out dad. Dad follows, but (as is the case in much of our research) he trails significantly behind mom, with fewer than half of teens naming him. Brother and sister follow, each named by 41 percent of respondents. When brother and sister are netted together, nearly two-thirds say they consider a sibling to be a friend, suggesting that siblings can be powerfully depicted in advertising—especially ads that promote social causes and would benefit from including a slightly older, respected role model. In our antidrug and antitobacco work, the message to older teens that they’re role models—that their younger brothers and sisters watch them closely and emulate them—resonates strongly.

Cousins are especially important to African-American teens. In fact, 22 percent of African-American children live in a household that includes extended family members, compared to 10 percent of whites. Cousins are attractive friends for teens. They can be the same age, but they don’t carry the baggage of being a sibling (i.e., rivalries, etc.). Female extended family members are more important to African-American respondents than to Hispanics or whites. Significantly more African-American teens say they consider a grandmother or an aunt to be a "real friend."

Being of the same gender appears to facilitate close relationships. Significantly more girls are closer to mothers, sisters, and aunts; significantly more boys are closer to fathers, brothers, and uncles. Still, it’s important to recognize that more boys name mom than dad as a close friend.

As discussed previously, 18- and 19-year-olds rediscover the enjoyment of spending time with their parents. For example, 62 percent of 16- and 17-year-olds consider mom to be a friend, but this number jumps to 71 percent for 18- and 19-year-olds. Dad experiences a less dramatic lift as teens age. And for middle-age teen boys, dad loses ground. Boys aged 16 and 17 (the most rebellious age segment) are struggling with the father–son relationship; while 58 percent of 12-to-15-year-olds consider dad to be a friend, the figure drops to only 45 percent among 16- and 17-year-olds.

Significantly fewer minority teens say they consider their father to be a friend, perhaps because fewer live with or maintain an ongoing relationship with their father. Census data show that 60 percent of African-American children are being raised in a single-parent family, compared to 21 percent of white children.

What Teens Like and Don’t Like to Do with Parents

The generation gap today is smaller than a generation ago. Teens and their Boomer parents share many activities, interests, and even pop-culture preferences. We thought it would be interesting to quantify what teens like to do with their families, and—of course—what they don’t. One thing’s for certain: teens appreciate their parents’ financial wherewithal. Activities requiring significant financial outlays—like vacations and dining at good restaurants—rank highly with teens as desirable family activities. Other activities—such as concerts and movies—teens view as off limits for parent–teen time.

Teens like to do a variety of things with their parents. At least two-thirds of respondents mentioned spending holidays together, going to a "nice" restaurant, going on vacation, eating dinner at home, having family parties, and going to church or synagogue. These activities fall into two camps: those that offer teens a "free ride" (the aforementioned nice restaurants, vacations) and those that reflect teens’ genuine desire to be with their family (spending holidays together, eating dinner at home, having family parties, attending religious functions).

As mentioned earlier in this chapter, teens value family dinners and the opportunity they offer for conversation—in part because family dinners are so rare, owing to everyone’s busy schedule. Still, teens would much prefer talking about a movie with a friend than with a parent. Most teens don’t even want to be seen at a movie or concert with parents. Their message to parents: back off! Pick your opportunities to socialize with your teens carefully, understanding their sensitivities.

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