Marketers should follow insight not hype

I’ve previously touched on the danger of falling for headline stats and overestimating the use of mobile and tablets, and now research is looking to expel some myths on young people and their so called addiction to technology.

Mindi Chahal

A survey of 1,544 UK adults aged 18-24 by youth research agency Voxburner looks at the role of technology in the lives of young people.  

The study reveals that 94 per cent agree or somewhat agree that people spend too much time looking at their phones and not enough time talking to each other. 

However, this relates to perception rather than behaviour, so they might think that phones dominate their lives, but continue to behave in this way. 

Interestingly, the study also found that 82 per cent of young people agree or somewhat agree that it’s great to take a break from technology every now and again for a few days or more. 

This is a warning for brands looking at their mobile or technology strategy, to not follow the hype about young people and their addiction to tech. In fact, the study shows that only 8 per cent say they are obsessed with technology.    

Other research projects, such as the Youth 100, also give a clearer picture of what young people want from brands, where analysing rather than assuming could yield real insight that brands could work into products and services. 

The two major findings from the 2013 Youth 100 list were that young people prefer brands that are useful and save them money, highlighted by the fact that tech brands like Apple and Samsung, and what I would say are typical youth brands, such as Topshop, are featured lower down in the list. 

An example of a brand understanding customers, rather than assuming they need to have something in the tech or app space because that’s where people are, is money transfer app Barclays PingIt. It identifies a real rather than perceived need and addresses it.  

Addressing brands about consumers, Marketing Week columnist Mark Ritson says: “You must accept that without research into their world, everything you think about them and, consequently, every strategy you try to execute is almost certainly flawed.”   

I agree and while this is a positive sentiment for the market research industry, it should also be positive for brands. Understanding customers is vital and believing hype and making judgements on assumption could lead to wasted budget. 

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