Magazine article Marketing

Brand Loyalty: A Marketers Teen Dream

Magazine article Marketing

Brand Loyalty: A Marketers Teen Dream

Article excerpt

Brand Loyalty: A Marketer's Teen Dream

WHEN trying to appeal to teens, marketers must develop a core marketing strategy, say executives at Levi Strauss, markham, Ont.

As a recent Institute For International Research Teenage Market conference in Toronto, Bernard Gorecki, manager marketing services, and Barbara Gellert, general merchandising manager, described the problems Levi Strauss encountered when it diversified to compete with designer brands.

The result was a decision to retrench and concentrate on blue jeans for the primary target market-men between 15 and 19.

To understand what drives the teen consumer today, Levi Strauss held group sessions with college students between the ages of 16 and 21.

It found that:

* The entire group generally shares the same goals, motivations and values.

* They are prepared to work hard to achieve success and a high standard of living.

* They struggle between being conformists and being innovators.

* The most enjoyable aspects of their lives are friendships and music-especially the music of the 1960s and 1970s.

* They feel growing up in the 1990s is filled with pressures and unknowns. They worry about time, money, school, life after school, unemployment, the threat of war, the environment and more.

* They select their clothing to express something of their attitude toward the world. Clothing is part of feeling good about themselves and coping in relationships.

* The attitude toward clothing differs somewhat between the younger and older teens. Those between 15 and 17 prefer clothing that allows them to fit in, while those between 19 and 21 want to both conform and express their individuality.

* They want to conserve, preserve and under-consume. They have a distaste for waste.

* They consider Levi's to be the enduring, classic jeans-a standard by which others are judged. Although quality, comfort, style and fit are important, its unique relationship with the consumer is its strongest asset.

Peter Frisola, director of communications, Benetton North America, New York, stressed the importance of "hooking" teens while they're young and building brand loyalty by knowing your customer.

"Teens are knowledgeable about the environment, drunk driving, AIDS, rock music and products such as makeup. They're brand- and status-conscious, but they're also cost-conscious. They're not price-sensitive if spending their parents' money, but definitely so if spending their own," he says.

"They're media savvy," Frisola says. "They're well-versed and not prone to political platitudes. They're more likely to buy |green' than their parents."

Benetton's marketing policy is to incorporate trends from all over the world. It's important, however, to have the right product, at the right price, at the right time, he says.

Benetton's core market is 18-to-34-year-olds. The company concentrates on 20 to 30 key items a year for its 6,300 stores in 82 countries. Benetton franchises are granted on attitude and spirit rather than retail experience, Frisola says.

Benetton uses a two-tiered approach in advertising. First is brand awareness-both corporate and global. Second is product-oriented image. Benetton nurtures a close relationship with fashion magazines and newspapers. Public relations is important to its corporate culture.

Media is the bible to the teen customer, with music and TV the common denominators. …

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