In response to my post about the back to school time period and the importance of retailers taking advantage of it, a reader asked if you should market to adults or to kids.
That’s a big question. And it all comes down to what you’re marketing (and how much money you have to spend and what your message is).
In one of my past jobs, I oversaw marketing for regional theme parks. Our conundrum was always to make the parks appealing to families without turning off the teens. So we bought media against two targets — families with kids and the second being teens. With the family target, we bought programming that families with kids would watch together and we used a family togetherness message. We also bought kids specific programming promoting the new attraction so we could employ the “nag factor” — that is, getting the kids to nag their parents to take them to the park to experience the new attraction.
We also bought teen specific media like radio stations and TV as well as cable networks like MTV and ran teen ads that were all about thrill rides and teens socializing together (theme parks are much like malls in that respect).
And the answer to the reader’s questions is….
THE REAL WORLD RETAILING TAKEAWAY
It really does come down to what you’re selling, your messaging and how much money you have to spend on marketing.
As most small retailers don’t have much to spend on marketing, it’s always best to target adults, even if you’re selling kids clothing. You can reach adults through an email marketing campaign relatively inexpensively. And since it’s back to school, adults are going to be in that frame of mind and open to messaging focusing on the products you’re selling if they’re relevant to the time period.
The only time I would target kids is if you have large marketing funds — you can couple the kids marketing with adult marketing for a one-two punch.
Having stated the above, teens are a different story. With their plugged-in lives (emails, IMing, texting and more), they are used to being bombarded by messages. If you have a concept or products that are geared to teens, I would market directly to them and bypass the parents completely. If you make it cool to teens, then parents aren’t going to think it’s cool, making teens like it even more. Got that? To confuse matters even more, teens are fickle. And once something is cool, it’s not cool anymore. So beware. Marketing to teens is rather tricky.
I have a client that’s opening a store within a store concept that’s geared to tweens, teens and young adults. It’s full of skate, surf and boarding stuff and it’s all crammed into an environment only a teen could love. The jury is out on how they are going to market to the audience if at all (the lack of marketing and underground appeal is also popular with teens). So stay tuned for a follow-up once they get their concept open.