Marketing is a disgusting beast of an animal that sucks the souls of humans to feed the beast of greed. Marketers created “youth”, inclusive of the developmental stage of life and the social notion of a certain way of being. Now that it exists, they relentlessly sell it: shoes, music, clothes, body styles, education, and of course, culture.
Anastasia Goodstein is the author of a new book called Totally Wired, and the editor of YPulse.com. She watches youth, watches marketing, and tells marketers a lot about youth. Somewhere in the midst of all that there might be something good, but I have always come up short reading her. From the gist of it all I get is that she’s another lens through which marketers can observe youth.
That said, today I offer insight from the “Dark Side” – the Land of the Marketers. In her blog Goodstein explains that she was recently at a youth marketing conference – you know the kind, where hungry dogs saliva all over each other waiting for the latest news they can use to lure in their prey? Goodstein was there and collected a bunch of the latest marketing research. I think their statistics might tell us a lot about the future of social change led by and with young people in the United States. Let’s take a look:
- There are 800,000 new teens each month. The total teen population is 33.9 million (12-19 yrs)
- Purchasing power from 1990 to 2001 amongst teens has increased 189% in total. But between ethnicities, there’s been a 457% increase among Hispanics, 431% among Asians, 251% among blacks, and 176% among whites.
- 46% of Hispanics in US are under 25
- “Chill” is the top attitude/lifestlye teens associate with at 40%. Others include Urban (23%), Prep (23%) and Hip Hop (19%)
- African Americans and Hispanics use social networking sites more than whites (both at 84% vs. 81%)
- Music as defining their identity (44%), with family a close second (39%)
- Surprisingly high disdain for brands. 56% see them as creating negative stereotypes. But it’s totally love/hate: “infatuation tempered with contempt.”
- 20 million teens 12-17 are online. That’s 83% penetration which will grow to 88% in the next few years
- 75% of teens that are online use social networking sites
- MySpace is the #18 ranked youth brand, ahead of iPod and Nike
- MySpace teens spend more time online (9.8 hrs) than watch TV (9.2 hrs)
According to Goodstein, the statistics came from Radha Subreamanyam of the N, a youth TV station, and Michael Barnett of Fox Interactive, the web-based side of that media monster.
What can these statistics tell us? These marketers have access to broad numbers of diverse young people, and their outcomes are tied into their statistics honesty – so I’m not sure that the numbers tell us any lies. But without making crass generalizations or cynical indictments of capitalism or consumerism, what is the lesson for youth programs and organizing campaigns and anyone else who cares to look? I think there may be gold in those mountains, and I’m gonna look. What do you think?