Posted on September 24, 2007
Filed Under (Marketing) by jennifer
So my wonderful editor over at has been asking me for months to write an article on how to market to teens. Not a bad topic, but I just wasn’t that jazzed — and, okay, as the mother of a tween was a little nervous about what I’d find out. But in late August I finally agreed, and I’m glad I did. (To read the full article, titled “How to Market to Teens: Keep it Real and Simple,” click here.)

According to a recent report from market research publisher Packaged Facts, approximately 25.6 million teens live in the United States today, and in 2006 they spent nearly $80 billion dollars on food, apparel, personal-care items, entertainment and other stuff. Despite a slight decline in the teen population over the next few years, “The Teens Market in the U.S.” report predicts that teen spending will grow an estimated 3.5 percent annually, climbing to $91.1 billion in 2011.


No wonder e-commerce businesses — as well as multichannel merchants and traditional retailers — are eager to court this audience.

But as anyone who has ever had, dealt or worked with teenagers knows, they can be enormously picky and fickle. And they don’t have very long attention spans. So to get the inside scoop on how to reach this crowd, I spoke with Greg Selkoe, the founder and CEO of Karmaloop, a very successful and hip online retailer of urban clothing and streetwear; Craig Sherman, the CEO of Gaia Online, a fast-growing hangout for teens on the Web, with two million unique visitors a month; and Brandon Evans, the managing director of RepNation Media, who has worked with a lot of brands on how to generate buzz among teens and has created many successful campaigns targeted at young adults. (I also tried, for, like, a month to snag Samantha Skey of Alloy Marketing, who is considered the queen of teen marketing, but, alas, failed to ultimately connect with her.)

What I found out could be summed up in five basic rules:

  1. Be authentic
  2. Create some buzz
  3. Keep your message simple
  4. Engage your visitors and solicit feedback
  5. Don’t forget about the parents

The bottom line (whether you’re marketing to teens or to adults): it all comes down to offering consumers (no matter how old they are) something of value, which could be a great product or service that they can’t get any place else, a way to save them time or money, a unique form of entertainment or peace of mind.

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Posted on September 17, 2007
Filed Under (Marketing) by jennifer
This summer, JupiterResearch, a leading authority on the impact of the Internet and emerging consumer technologies on business, released its latest US Retail Consumer Survey. What the researchers discovered, after surveying approximately 2,000 online shoppers, was that a majority (53 percent) went directly to retailer and manufacturer sites to research and purchase products (i.e., just typed in that URL), rather than using shopping comparison sites or social and/or community networking sites.

In fact, according to the lead analyst on the report, social and/or community networking sites barely factored into consumers’ buying decisions, at least the online consumers JupiterResearch surveyed. I found that very interesting as community and networking sites have gotten a lot of (positive) buzz the past couple of years. I’d even written about some of them, though, I confess, I only visit them if they happen to come up in a Google search.

Why am I blogging about this? Because if like most small businesses you have a small marketing budget and want to get the most bang for every buck, I wanted to let you know that you’re better off using that money on your own site — and on making it more attractive to search engines (through search engine optimization), particularly Google, which, according to the survey, still reigns supreme in the search world — than on, say, Facebook or MySpace or Yelp.  

That said, social networking sites and community sites do have their place, especially if you are marketing to a younger or niche demographic whose members are more prone to regularly visit and post and read comments on these sites.

Want to learn more? Check out my article for, titled “Social Commerce: Trend or Fad.” 

Disagree with the report or have suggestions on how small businesses with small marketing budgets should spend those dollars? Let me know. I’ll post legitimate (non-spam) comments.

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