Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Youth Mashup Mindset-Marketers Should Take Notice

posted by Kevin Walker

Last week Chiqui Cartagena of Story Worldwide Marketing wrote a very nice piece in Advertising Age’s Big Tent about the ongoing lag between marketers’ cross cultural marketing efforts and the reality of changing demographics in the U.S.

The day her article was published I happened to watch MTV Hits channel and was struck by a couple of music videos that played. The videos were Three 6 Mafia with Tiesto, Flo Rida and Sean Kingston’s “Feel It”. This video has 8.2 million hits thus far

and Justin Bieber and Ludacris’ “Baby” with 28 million hits:

It occurred to me that some of these musical artists/hitmakers are savvier marketers than many of us who are MBA trained, and formally trained marketers. They have made a conscious decision to give the marketplace what it wants which is mashup approaches, the mixing and meshing of genres and to appeal across ethnic groups. Is there something to this? The proof is in the hits! This music blurs the lines but is ultimately appealing to the masses: is it Techno? Is it Pop? Is it Reggaeton? Is it Hip-Hop? So, if the lines of music are blurring, what are the implications for other sections of culture outside of music, particularly how it impacts consumer marketing.

I have been documenting this new crossover/mashup mindset that is emerging among both urban and suburban youth for quite sometime, check out these earlier posts: Crossover Dreams, and One Youth Nation Under A Groove. Now there is more evidence that this mashup/crosscultural aesthetic is mainstream and my question to marketers is how will you respond to be more relevant with the next generation of consumers?

To connect to Latino youth, do you think it is relevant to make Latino Heritage month celebrations cornerstones of your Hispanic youth outreach efforts? Based on research we have done, that may not be the most impactful way to go.

From what I have seen, the agency world is still practicing a rigid market segregation, and many of their Client’s marketing budgets reflect this. There is the General Market marketing budget, the Hispanic marketing budget, and sometimes, an African American and Asian marketing budget. The newly emerging “mashup mindset” that we are talking about poses an interesting challenge for marketers in the context of mashup mindsets.

As it relates to connecting to young people, perhaps there should be coherent youth strategies implemented, along with formally budgeting for these efforts. Also, because of the complexity of youth identity, the role of account planning and insights will dramatically increase in significance in crafting marketing strategies targeted to them.

The reality is that for many young people multiculturalism/crossculturalism is organic. If you are a young person who happens to live in Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orlando, New York, the Bay Area, I guarantee there is keen awareness of other cultures amongst young people and the influence of their associates and friends from other cultures on their tastes, resulting in this “mashup” cultural mindset.

Currently, the way the agency world is structured this organic point of view is stifled by the homogeneity of agency staffs and corporate marketing staffs. There is definitely room for innovation and new effort put toward addressing increasing diversity, and the psychocgraphic and demographic shifts occuring with the next generation of consumers. I know I am beating a dead horse but there is so much potential being untapped. I would like to challenge us to begin the work to convince our clients and fellow agency cohorts to put new approaches into play and to take steps to reflect back to the marketplace the organic way in which young people relate to each other and the brands they love.

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