Social messages win over a teenage audience

Communicating to a younger generation with an authentic voice can be difficult to achieve. The Conservative Party is trying to get its messages across to that hard-to-reach youth audience via online music service Spotify. Its 40-second ad features party chairman Eric Pickles talking about the issue of debt and then telling Spotify listeners to “vote Tory”.

While some are debating whether Spotify is really an appropriate medium for political promotion, research shows that teenagers do want to hear important social messages rather than the drivel that many spout in an attempt to “get down with the kids”.

Integrity and sincerity are much more important to this generation of teenagers, compared to previous generations, according to consumer behaviour consultancy RISC international.

Teenagers are aware of the impact they have on the environment, with two thirds of teenagers believing that the way they shop has an impact on the world, compared to just over half of 20 to 24-year-olds.

RISC International also warns brands not to use social media to talk “at” teenagers with their brand messages. There has to be a dialogue involved, rather than simply a broadcast. There has to be something engaging to draw in young consumers.

Mobile brand Orange already appears to be ahead of this research, by communicating with teenagers about the importance of contributing to society. It gave away Rockcorps tickets to a gig in exchange for young people taking part in some voluntary work.

Charity DoSomething.org encourages young people to make a difference. MTV has also teamed up with COI with an initiative called “show us what you’re made of” to get young people to talk honestly about knife crime.

What the RISC International research shows is that there is desire for such projects. It claims that brands need authentic social values to win the trust of teenagers. So perhaps Pickles with his message about the perils of debt won’t be ignored.

The Tories will be hoping that teenagers will view this as an authentic message and not just a cynical ploy to get young people on side, just in time for the next general election.

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