Speaking eye to eye with the teen target

Anyone who has worked with the teen target, knows that it is a target that is not only difficult to understand but also difficult to keep up to speed with. The way teens relate to brands and media is to some extent unpredictable. Does this mean that you give up trying? Of course not. You keep on watching, investigating and learning from them.

As we have mentioned on some of our previous blog entries, momentum is important. Being there at the right time is crucial, as teens tend to be rather disloyal – they will choose brands that satisfy their needs at a certain moment and the next time that moment is different and they will choose differently – at least if you have not managed to make an impression and establish a strong relationship.

So, relationship is key. In order to relate you need to engage and in order to engage, you need to understand the different layers of the teen’s individual personalities.

Sometimes is it easier to see teens in stereotypical terms such as: Unreliable and egocentric people who do not want to communicate with the older generation. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Our recent study on teens and social media has shown that the teens are so much more than meets the eye. They are young people with needs, hopes, desires and worries. They are tired of being looked upon as a stereotypical segment that is beyond reach, as they are very much interested in a dialogue with brands and the outside world. The problem is that the world outside tends not to meet teens at eye level and when met with a communication that belittles them, teens close the door and become unreachable.

Our study showed that if brands communicate at eye level they have a far better chance of being heard by the young target group and being listened to. Communication is a two-sided process and if the teens feel that brands are genuinely interested in hearing their thoughts and opinions they are much more willing to respond and interact. So what do you (as a brand) need to consider?

  • Simply being visible is not enough. Teens need something far more tangible and involving to connect with your brand
  • Pop-ups and banners are “no goes”
  • You need to engage the teens: Make them curious, ask their opinions, invite them in,  push creativity
  • Understand that teens cannot always verbalise what they need/want, but they can definitely say what they do not want. BUT: Do not see a rejection as the end point for your engagement with the teens, rather as the starting point for a dialogue
  • Work around elements that can create word of mouth for the teens. Recommendations from peers or bloggers is highly influential for the teens
  • Remember that teens can be inspirational, fast-moving and fun to be around. You might even be surprised with what you get in return, if you have the courage to speak at eye level with them
  • But be aware: Speaking at eye level does not mean that you should use the new “digital” language such as hashtags etc. This will only backfire! You should show them respect by also showing who you are and not pretend to be something that you are not
”We really enjoyed a very interesting presentation of how the
Danish teenagers interact on social media and why they do what they
do. Great to learn how we as advertisers can use the knowledge in
real life and ensure that we are always communicating relevantly
and at eye level. Our goal is to be top of mind here and now and in
the long run we wish to secure an even bigger preference for our
- Lise Hørdam, Digital Brand Manager with McDonald’s

Would you like to have the full presentation of our study or some qualitative input on how to understand and communicate with the teen target, then please contact us


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