Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Starcom MediaVest Group and CNET Networks Unveil Youth Market Study

Starcom MediaVest Group and CNET Networks Unveil Youth Market Research That Breaks Through Common Myths (here)

Today's young people care about the brands they use, talk often with their friends about brands, and like watching real-time television. These myth-busters and other compelling insights are being revealed today by Starcom MediaVest Group (SMV) and CNET Networks, Inc. (Nasdaq:CNET) as part of Advertising Week in New York City's annual schedule of industry events.

SMG and CNET Networks partnered on an extensive ethnographic youth study aimed at helping marketers understand how to reach today's elusive population of 13- to 34-year-olds, responsible for $600 billion each year in consumer spending. The findings can be found at www.brandsirens.com.

The two companies talked to more than 10,000 young people through 30 ethnographies, followed by a series of online surveys and conversations. The goal was to determine how young people feel about brands, how they talk about them with friends, and how they take in, manipulate, and redistribute marketing messages. Some of the findings -- like the fact that they value honesty and candor in marketing -- were expected, while others contradicted today's commonly held beliefs. In addition, the study identifies "brand sirens," the super-influencers of the youth market, including who they are, what they do, and how marketers can better reach them.

"We were able to confirm that some of today's commonly held perceptions about youth as consumers are wrong," said Renetta McCann, CEO of Starcom MediaVest Group, a leading global brand communications group. "Historically, young people have demonstrated brand skepticism. It has also been generally accepted that they are losing interest in television, they don't pursue brand loyalty, they are impossible to reach, and that getting into their inner circle is almost impossible. By putting the youth market under the microscope, we ultimately learned that brands still matter to them, and we gained invaluable insights about how to engage them in a dialogue."

Highlights of the study include:

* 2 in 3 youth care about the brands they use
* 7 in 10 say there are brands that they love
* Two-thirds feel there are important differences between brands
* They seek loyalty: more than 40 percent wish they could find brands to stick with and would switch if another brand comes out that seems better
* More than half talk to friends often about brands
* 73 percent watched real-time television within the last day
* 7 in 10 will spend more to purchase a brand they know and trust

The "brand sirens" of the study (15 to 20 percent) are distinguished by their deep expertise in their passions and interests, their constant quest for information on those interests, and their desire to share what they learn with large groups of people who rely on them for advice. Whereas in the past, influential consumers helped their family and friends make decisions, today's brand sirens leverage technology to expand their networks of influence exponentially. Key features of brand sirens include:

* 82 percent talk about brands with their friends
* 87 percent love sharing info about brands
* 85 percent love brands that keep their promises
* More than half wish they could find brands to stick with
* 70 percent send emails to friends about products and services
* 77 percent post reviews and product feedback online

"This research is an important step forward for marketers, who have less and less control over their brands in this age of consumer choice, voice and control," said Barry Briggs, President and COO of CNET Networks, Inc., an interactive media company that builds Web brands that target passionate audiences. "We are giving them the tools to understand how they can build strong relationships with the people who have the power to make or break their brands."

For detailed results, including data showing what types of campaign approaches and marketing touch points get the attention of the youth market, and examples of campaigns that have resonated with this market, go to www.brandsirens.com.

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