American teens‘ stronghold over technology in the 1990s has given way to a worldwide class of “SuperConnectors.” This global group is defined in “GenWorld: The new Generation of Global Teens,” a research report published by Energy BBDO.
Globally, teens aged 13-18 are very concerned about the world and their own future. These concerns have made them self activists, creative, and highly adaptable to emerging technologies. The report identifies seven shifts in attitudes and behaviors within this group. It also looks at ways for marketers to approach this group and stay relevant.
Fifty-six percent of teens age 13-18 are SuperConnectors according to the GenWorld study. This group has an active lifestyle and uses multiple means of connectivity at any given time. Connectivity tools at this generation’s disposal include such lean-forward mechanisms as cell phones, text messaging, the Internet, email, instant messaging and search engines. Even when they’re taking part of lean-back media, the group finds new levels of engagement.
“What we see is that often, they are doing both at the same time, they may be multitasking or doing an activity with friends,” said Chip Walker, EVP and director of account planning at Energy BBDO. “The days of using technology purely to veg out seem to be gone.”
Social networks play a large role with this group. Family communication takes place in-person, though friendships within a teen’s network spreads out over the Web and other enabled devices. The same activities may be occurring, but technology expands the capabilities teens have to communicate.
“They are still doing many of the same types of activities that they used to do, for example, passing a note in class. Now, they can text several people at the same time,” said Walker. “The underlying urges are the same, what technology has done is allow them to be taken to a new level.”
SuperConnectors are resistant to traditional advertising messages. The report does identify ways to speak to them without alienating them. Strategies include contact on their terms, in ways that allow teens to communicate with each other and personalize what they’re receiving. Communication should empower the group and provide optimism.
“Brands like Adidas and iPod are staying extremely relevant, connecting with teens on themes that are important to them,” said Walker. “[With iPod], they tend to engage with teens, you don’t see loads of TV commercials.”
The GenWorld Teen Study was commissioned by Energy BBDO to gauge lifestyle, values, attitudes and brand perceptions among teens aged 13 to 18. The survey was fielded to 3,322 teens in the summer of 2005 in 13 countries including the U.S., Mexico, Brazil, the U.K., France, Germany, Spain, Australia, Russia, Poland, China, Taiwan and India.
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