As we hear about all too often, many businesses focus their digital marketing strategy on Millennials. But what most brands fail to realize is that they are missing out on key emerging groups, like Zoomers and others who are becoming even more internet-savvy at increasingly younger ages.

Studies show children can express brand awareness at 3 years old. They certainly influence and respond to marketing, as evidenced by their “pester power,” or the nag factor – also known to parents as unrelentingly begging for toys that made an advertising impression. Teenagers, though, are a more elusive but invaluable demographic, early adopters and eternal trend-setters with the power to make anything wildly popular, if only brands could ever figure out what that might be.

Marketing to teens is worthwhile but it’s also tricky for a number of legal, logistical and illogical reasons. First, if parents or schools don’t approve of a product, it can be hard to promote, even if sometimes that makes it all the more desirable. For brands, unique and unconventional angles are needed to ethically reach one of the most under-targeted but highly profitable potential audiences.

Follow the trends

There are crucially revealing clues into youth culture throughout media, entertainment and the commercial world. Carefully research the best-sellers in toys, video games, music and mobile applications for useful marketing insights.

Browse the big social media apps. Discover which influencers are most popular among young people on YouTube, SnapChat, Tiktok and other platforms. What is interesting about them? Don’t just dismiss things you don’t get or find weird; try to understand the appeal. If you can figure out how to echo the tone and tenor of these new-generation content creators, you have a better chance of reaching the right audience.

Be image-obsessed

Young people are drawn to vibrant, even iconoclastic, imagery, so focus on how your brand is presenting. Take note of the imagery, color-schemes, themes and messages used by companies that succeed with adolescents. What do they have in common? Which ones align more naturally with your business?

Animation and cartoons may keep little kids engaged, but new visual and multimedia techniques, popular music and a bold point of view are more effective for teenagers. When using live actors or spokespeople, employ those who are familiar or relatable to the target demo.

Advertise differently 

Just like any other demographic, teenagers are a distinct group of people who need to be marketed to in different ways. You wouldn’t talk to a 16-year-old the same way you spoke to a 46-year-old, right? If your brand views teens as valuable prospective consumers, you have to use their language, connect with their interests and understand them as such. 

Advertise through education: As smart devices become more ubiquitous and internet education platforms more integral to learning, brands have opportunities to show short ads in between lessons to a captive audience. Additionally, online games are perfect for banner ads to display relevant products and services.

Speak to the parents: The best way to discover what your target demographic likes is to ask them. But if you can’t do that, ask their parents. Conduct surveys on your website, via email marketing or on your social media channels. Interact with families, especially if you’re a local company, and ask them to test your stuff and provide feedback.

Partner with cool people: If you have a large budget like Dunkin’ Donuts and can work with TikTok star Charlie D’Emilio, awesome. But don’t underestimate the impact of a smaller social campaign with a niche celebrity. Kids look up to and strongly identify with those they see in the media. If an influencer is excited about your brand, you’ll gain clout amongst their fans, as well.

Be inclusive (of parents, too)

Remember, every person is different. Whether you’re providing a unique experience or a new game or service, allow for individual and group interaction. Teenagers may be social creatures, but just as adults can be more extroverted or introverted, so can teens. Make sure your audience is able to enjoy your product whether they are an only child or in a big family, with friends or on their own. 

Of course, you also need to be inclusive and representative of everyone. Not only is it the right thing to do, but younger generations are more socially and politically progressive and they notice which brands are not.

And don’t forget about parents. Shows like “SpongeBob” effectively included parents by using more grown-up humor in episodes that were ostensibly for kids but still tolerable for adults. Marketing to a younger audience should be a family affair. Even though teenagers may be rebellious, if you can captivate them and convince parents you’re not the worst thing in the world, you can cultivate a potentially long-lasting brand relationship that grows with them.

Finally, it goes without saying that you should always be mindful of and abiding by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. It requires commercial websites and apps to receive informed parental consent before collecting any personal information on children under 13. In other words, don’t market to children.

Anyone who’s been around young people knows they’re definitely different, as people and as a demographic. If you feel like you need help reaching teens, look no further. With access to our newsroom software and talent marketplace, your brand can become a PowerPublisher of creative, original and high-quality content. Or, if TikTok dances and the latest fashion trends are too intimidating, consider outsourcing your social media, blog and other content production to us.