A quick piece in Brandweek cites a study in which thousands of teens were queried on their conversations and interactions among each other. The study says that:

Members of Generation Y have 145 conversations a week about brands, which is twice the rate of adults.

“They are extremely engaged in conversations about brands,” said Brad Fay, COO of The Keller Fay Group, a New Brunswick, N.J., word-of-mouth consultancy whose TalkTrack survey canvassed 2,046 teens ages 13-17 during the first five months of the year.

Teens aren’t just conversing about brands; they’re talking about advertising as well. More than half (57%) said they cite marketing and media in their conversations compared to 48% of adults.

“Teens are highly plugged into pop culture and brands are a big part of that culture,” said Fay. Products and their ads “are conversation currency.”

Oi vey. The ad industry is giving teens their social currency. How depressing. What ever happened to talking about girls (or boys), scoring front-row seats to a show, looking for trouble (and finding it) on a Saturday night? Do teens really sit around and discuss the finer points of the Fourth Meal campaign?

So which brands are leading the conversation? Few will be surprised that Apple’s perennial favorite, the iPod, led the pack, followed by American Eagle, Dr Pepper, Chevrolet and Nintendo, respectively.


Okay, I’m certain more than a few debates are merited for Mac vs PC. Enough of my self-righteous whining and deprecating cynicism. The article continues:

Cyber-savvy teens scored higher than adults in online brand mentions as well. GenYers are three times more likely to talk about a brand online (via text, instant messaging, e-mail, chats or blogs) than adults. Some 19% of teen word-of-mouth happens online versus 7% for adults.

Still, 61% of brand word-of-mouth mentions still happen offline, even if it’s happening the same time as an online or text conversation.

“[Teens] are more socially enabled than someone working in an office 9 to 5,” said Doug Akin, managing partner at Mr. Youth, a Gen Y marketing agency in New York. “They have more multichannel conversations. [Aside from just hanging out], they are texting. They are online. They are on Facebook. On these social networking sites, they are likely to stumble across a marketing message and act on it.”

Oh wait. The cynicism is back. But this time, the vitriol isn’t for the slack-jawed stoner kids playing with their Wiis. The bitterness is directed squarely at the typical marketing response: fuck it up for the kids with our fake-ass, bullshit marketing. Wait, there’s a bit more:

Not to mention, “Brands are badges for teens,” said Fay. “You are at a period in your life when you are trying to discover your true identity. Brands can be a short-cut in defining yourself.”

I can’t take it no more. Are we arrogant enough to truly believe that we as marketers and brand managers are helping teens discover themselves? Are we now on par with teachers and educators? Are we the quick-fix every teen has yearned for since time immemorial? What utter rubbish.

Some other stuff was in the article, like what teens talk about and such (movies, games, sports…duh). I just wish it was Saturday night, and not Tuesday. I feel like getting in trouble.


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  2. wow, I was just passing by to your blog, Thanks alot for the post, i enjoyed it. and happy that tuesday as weekend.

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