DM News' Essential Guide to Lists and Database Marketing: Marketing to Youth

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The youth market is hot, with numerous companies vying for share - and rightly so. Teens and college students wield tremendous buying power.

According to Teenage Research Unlimited, teens influenced $450 billion in spending in 2004, including their own money and parental expenditures. A Youth Monitor study found that the younger age group known as "tweens" - defined as ages 8-12 - receives $20 billion annually in gifts, allowances and extra spending money from their parents and influences another $170 billion in household spending. And the college market is estimated to have $120 billion in spending power, according to the 360 Youth College Explorer Study.

In an age of media saturation, direct mail is an increasingly important method to reach this audience. A recent U.S. Postal Service study found that both Gen X and Gen Y rate 75 percent of their mail as being of immediate value. They enjoy getting coupons and catalogs in the mail, and 64 percent claimed to have ordered something online after receiving a direct mail offer the previous month.

However, sensitivities exist in marketing to this age group. These recommendations aim to help generate buzz, drive response and build brand loyalty while working within guidelines crucial to this audience:

· Create your mail piece with both the student and parent in mind. You're walking a fine line between what's appealing to the student (your potential consumer) and what's appropriate according to their parent (the one who generally controls the flow of mail in the household). If the parent considers the offer offensive or irrelevant, your mailing may not reach the intended recipient.

· Don't talk down to young people or assume they are not knowledgeable. Receiving mail is part of growing up. Make the recipient feel important by conveying your message appropriately.

· Speak their language and make the offer fun. If your mail piece is considered boring or uncool, it may be discarded without any consideration.

· Be honest. Avoid gimmicks and offers with a catch or language that is misleading. Students have been bombarded with advertising their entire lives and are very discerning of offers.

· Keep it simple. You have a few seconds at most to grab their attention and make them want to read on, so keep your message short and to the point.

· Understand that certain privacy issues exist with youth marketing. A reputable direct marketing agency and list provider can ensure that you avoid these issues. Ensure that your list provider follows industry best practices in its data collection procedures.

· Provide value. Students appreciate offers that equate to money. Examples include coupons, discounts and sales by "invitation only."

· Encourage recipients to share the offer with friends. This viral marketing method empowers the students by letting them help a friend and increases your marketing reach without increasing your marketing expense.

· Use a highly targeted mailing list. In youth marketing, age/class year and location are key variables. Precise targeting lets you tailor the graphics, text and offer in your mail piece appropriately based upon the demographics of the intended audience.

· Time it right. Back to school, graduation and holidays are the most popular seasons in student marketing and should be considered when planning your marketing calendar.

· Allow for open communication. Make it easy for them to obtain your product or service, request more information or provide feedback. Offer a Web address if possible, then pay attention to what they say and reformat your marketing efforts based on their comments.

Students have incredible spending potential and are an impressionable and loyal audience. These young consumers are making decisions and gathering information on products and companies that could last a lifetime.

For a PDF of DM News' Essential Guide to Lists, Database Marketing & Data Services, click below:


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