Here’s How 6 Top Brands Have Succeeded in Engaging Teens

In recent years, consumers have been far more vocal about the need for brands to take a duty of care towards them.

With the bar set higher, many brands have struggled to keep up with this new standard. But some brands have met the challenge head on and are leading the way when it comes to showing keen awareness for the consumer, such as displaying inclusiveness, diversity, and support of campaigns close to the heart.

A subset of this approach concerns the next generation of customers; our teenagers. Advertising and connecting with this age group is so crucial for brands, as it will help cement them as the go-to brand for these young adults in future. But this generation is also a lot different from the ones that came before it — after all, this is the generation that never knew life without the internet.

So, which brands are connecting effectively with their teenage audience?

Clear honesty: Clearasil

For many teens, skincare is a tricky, but necessary ground to navigate. Clearasil is one of those brands that so many recommend, the go-to name in facial scrubs for the acne-prone.

It was a pretty brave move then, for the brand to build a campaign around the idea that they didn’t really ‘get’ teenagers. Perhaps more triumphantly, the brand’s ad campaign rose from their incorrect use of a meme, which was duly torn apart by teenage viewers saying Clearasil clearly didn’t know what teens liked. The campaign consisted of a series of videos in which employees of Clearasil presented themselves as being woefully out of touch with teen culture. The employees admit that they while they know teen acne, they don’t know teens. The campaign’s success lay in the sense of honesty, which teenagers would connect with, rather than attempting to present themselves as ‘cool’.

Nothing to fear: Lil-Lets

Getting their first period is a big change for young girls, and one that can be rather scary to tackle alone. However, Lil-Lets has created their own teen range which is perfect for breaking the stigma around periods.

The brand designed their period starter kits to tackle the problem. The discreet designed packaging reinforces the idea that periods don’t have to be a scary thing to encounter and will allow young girls to carry products around without feeling embarrassed when the time comes. Also, when it comes to the Lil-Lets teens pads, they have been created so that they are smaller and narrower which means they are often a better fit for a young girl’s body. They are also just as absorbent as adult products and are comfortable to wear.

The truth about labels: River Island

It’s no secret that teenagers worry about the ‘label’ others give them, particularly their peers. In partnership with anti-bullying charity, Ditch The Label, River Island launched its ‘Labels Are For Clothes’ campaign to champion self-expression and reject stereotypes. For its 30th birthday, the fashion store created advertisements that featured a range of body types and abilities to heighten inclusivity.

The campaign included the brand’s most diverse offering yet, using models from a variety of backgrounds, including those with disabilities. River Island has acknowledged its responsibility to project the world around them, seeing as everyone wears clothes. For young people in particular, shopping at high street brands like this is just one part of growing up and to see that different people being represented on a national scale will allow them to become more accepting of the world around them.

Showing pride: Doritos

Doritos are cooler than Apple and Instagram. That’s according to a recent Google study of 13-17 year olds, who placed Doritos higher in terms of ‘coolness’. So how is this brand reaching out to support teens?

As seen above, one way for brands to find support in teenagers is to support what they value. Doritos nailed this by showing their support for LGBT campaigns with their limited-edition rainbow-coloured snack. To get one of these colourful packs, a donation had to be made to the It Gets Better Project. Naturally, this resonated hugely with consumers and the limited-edition Doritos quickly sold out.

In doing this, Doritos showed support for a world concern in a way that didn’t patronise or claim to be the whole solution.

Diversity: Nike

What do Nike and Doritos have in common? Well, like Doritos, Nike scored very well in Google’s study, with teenagers ranking it the same level of ‘cool’ as Apple, and outdoing the likes of Coca-Cola, Starbucks, and Twitter.

Nike hasn’t ducked away from speaking out about causes they support either. For example, their classic “Just Do It” campaign recently featured Colin Kaepernick, the American Footballer who started the “Take a Knee” protest against racial and social injustices by kneeling during the national anthem. Nike continued to show their support for sports stars who were standing up against racial injustices with their latest campaign, featuring Raheem Sterling. This willingness to “speak out” in defence of equality has a huge value to teenagers in particular, who have a greater appreciation not only for what a brand sells, but what it stands for.

Self-esteem: Dove

Hitting your full potential is everything toiletries company Dove stands for. The brand launched the Self-Esteem Project that has changed 40 million lives since 2004 through educational programmes. Their research discovered that nine out of ten girls with low self-esteem put their own health at risk by not seeing doctors or missing out on meals.

In order to help out, Dove offers free resources for teachers, parents, and youth leaders to help them talk to teenagers struggling with self-confidence. As well as this, their onsite blog allows you to learn more about key areas that influence a teens life — from social media and reality TV pressures to school bullying and mental health.

Catering to teenagers helps to both build brand image as well as securing a future consumer pool. By capturing their custom at an earlier stage, they’ll be able to focus on retention and ensure loyalty as they transition from teen-to-adult in the near future.


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