Appealing to younger audiences – what do they actually want?

Following a breakfast event with the Marketing Academy earlier this year at the BT Tower, we wanted to share some thoughts following speaker Kerry Taylor’s talk on advertising to youth. CMO at Viacom since 2014, Kerry shared her knowledge of attracting younger audiences across Viacom’s leading brands of MTV, Channel 5 and Comedy Central.

The question on everyone’s lips right now is: what do the youth of today actually engage with?

While technology is continuing to rapidly change how we consume media, one thing’s for sure – the rise in mobile usage and streaming services such as Netflix have certainly disrupted the industry. With content now really being king, brands need to adapt and work harder to engage with younger audiences across multiple mediums. With millennials and younger favouring experiences over everything else, here are four things to think about when creating content for the ‘youth’ generation.

How to attract their attention?
At Viacom, one area that’s always discussed during each concept’s stages is ‘the thumb-stopping creative’. What single piece of creative – made up of an image usually featuring one person and with a surprise element to it – stops people mid-scroll to explore further? Whatever content is created, the thumbnail imagery is key and needs to be ‘un-skip-able’. After all, why create great videos if no-one stops to watch them?

Humour as escapism
In today’s dark world full of uncertainty and ‘fake news’, the youth of today are increasingly turning to humour as a form of escapism. With social media timelines packed with various videos and posts from brands, successful companies now need to consider creating humorous content that relates back to the actual content they’re promoting.

We’ve seen this recently with one of the UK’s favourite summertime reality show, Love Island, who have created a range of snippets to promote the show heading back to our screens soon. One notable video which created a lot of buzz was shared by host Caroline Flack, showing two suitcases being passed through an X-ray scanner, identifying these as belonging to both Caroline and narrator Iain by the show’s incredibly popular water bottles. Interestingly, nothing in the main teaser video shows Love Island itself, but surprises viewers by teasing them to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

Now in 2018, the most intelligent teasers are now much less about showing snippets of the show you’re promoting, but creating interesting content around the show, building hype in small stages and creating relatable and shareable content.

Shareable content
Speaking of shareable content, what makes someone view a brand’s content is one thing, but what makes someone share a brand’s content is a whole other thing. High performing shared content is increasingly growing in popularity when one key thing is implemented: it involves the user themselves.

User-generated content (UGC) has been growing in popularity for years, with the rise of social media and influencers driving this trend even further. For example, take Teen Mom’s Snapchat lens which enabled followers to be dressed as a baby and be seen to ‘vomit’ when opening their mouth. This was created as a fun exercise as part of the launch but, importantly, it helped to authentically spread the word of Teen Mom to a much wider audience than with a traditional advert or social media post by sparking a trend. Who wouldn’t want to see themselves as a giant baby with vomit coming out when opening your mouth?

Or consider the rise of both selfies and so-called beauty ‘shelfies’ – brands such as Glossier, Deciem and Drunk Elephant have created purposefully minimal, photogenic packaging for their beauty products that consumers are encouraged to photograph in-situ in their own homes. Glossier’s Instagram feed is essentially entirely user-generated, which makes achieving those picture-perfect selfies (and selfies) all the more desirable for its audience.

Nostalgia is the newest trend in youth culture
Not that this is particularly new, but one trend that’s rising in youth culture is one of nostalgia. With changes in technology and viewing habits, the youth of today are increasingly attracted to programmes of the past – in fact, some shows from before they were even born. This is noted with the comeback of hit comedy Will & Grace, Netflix’s purchase of every episode of Friends and jokes from shows such as Monty Python making a huge comeback in younger generations.

Perhaps, brands should take a look at their past and what drove previous initial successes with its customers, and why these people chose them over the competition. For newer brands, maybe it’s looking at ways to bring a touch of history to a modern product or service, through design or through fun social media posts. Sometimes, looking at the past can actually shape your future.

Looking to create content that appeals directly to your audiences? Check out our case studies and drop us a message on to find out more about our services.