Genuine Over Perfect – How to Align Your Marketing with Shifts in Youth Culture

Genuine Over Perfect – How to Align Your Marketing with Shifts in Youth Culture

by April 2, 2018

Choose Genuine Over Perfect

Marketing that emphasizes genuine over perfect has been growing in importance to young people over the last decade. And now that sentiment has reached new heights in its significance to current teens.

This quick read in Forbes about Unilever achieving success by connecting with youth culture’s desire to see reality in advertising campaigns is a best-in-class example. The article details the evolution of Axe Body Spray from the superficial (“The Axe Effect”) to the meaningful (“Find Your Magic”).

Genuine Over Perfect – Create and activate the most relevant brand experiences for teens and young adults. Whether those experiences are social or experiential, influencer or content, here are five recommendations to align your marketing to some of the most recent youth culture shifts.

Don’t Be Afraid to Be Political

For teens, consumerism and idealism can go hand-in-hand. They see no contradiction between raging against the machine and following their favorite celebrities.

One of the best example of this shift is Teen Vogue. Most often linked to fashion ads, make-up tips, and relationship articles, in the past year Teen Vogue has gone political. They kicked things off with an op-ed piece in late 2016 titled “Donald Trump Is Gaslighting America” written by Lauren Duca, which was immediately shared more than one million times. Despite the predictable backlash, Teen Vogue has never been hotter and shows no sign of stepping away from controversial issues.

Accept Gender Fluidity as Teens Have

Brands are embracing gender fluidity as the traditional ideas of femininity and masculinity fall by the wayside among teens.

According to Forbes, younger consumers are identifying with companies that focus on lifestyle elements rather than traditional gender norms. Examples include the popular beauty retailer Sephora including both males and females in their holiday campaign. And Banana Republic is making their baby clothing line unisex and free of traditional pink and blue hues.

Use Powerful Female Imagery

Genuine Over Perfect – Today’s teens and young adults expect to see powerful images of women in consumer advertising.  Youth culture met the news with optimism that 2017’s top-selling Getty image for the search term “woman” was a woman hiking a rocky trail, alone on the edge of a cliff high above a turquoise lake. In contrast, in 2007 the top-selling Getty image for the same search term depicted a naked woman lying on a bed, gazing at the camera with a towel draped over her.

The New York Times outlines the evolution driven in part by the Lean In collection. Getty developed with Sheryl Sandberg a nonprofit to seed media with more modern, diverse and empowering images of women.

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