Mad Marketing Skills

Your guide to cashing in on the young, urban market

a McDonald’s or KFC, there are other techniques for getting your product in front of the urban youth market. In this article, we’ll show you how to determine if this market fits your business and what strategies you can use to successfully pursue young urban consumers.

The impact of urban youth can be felt everywhere from fashion to music to sports. This includes an estimated 70 million 12- to 17-year-old (Generation Y) and 18- to 34-year-old (Generation X) African Americans, Latinos, Asians and Caucasians who live in both inner-city and large, upscale urban environments, such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. This demographic is heavily influenced by the music (rap, R&B, gospel, hip-hop) and fashion that characterize its identity. African Americans drive both of these arenas. Urban youth have their own language, icons and heroes.

“We’ve found that these kids are very individualistic, and they don’t respond to anything outside of their reality,” says Brannon. “They don’t care about the status quo.”
At the same time, this market sets and is influenced by trends in the fashion and music industries that are then followed by the general consumer market, especially affluent white suburban youth.

“If FUBU started advertising to suburban kids, they would lose,” says Meade. “Their urban constituents would find something else to wear and suburban kids wouldn’t wear it. The best way to get white kids into a product is to get black kids to buy it.”

This demographic makes a considerable amount of household purchasing decisions for their families, from what food to eat to what diapers to buy, according to Howard Buford, president and CEO of Prime Access Inc. in New York, an advertising and direct-marketing firm that specializes in marketing to previously overlooked audiences, such as African American and Latino consumers. “If you’re a business person, it matters what store they go to and what they buy. In order to accomplish this, you have to create linkages and word-of-mouth advertising.”

Clearly, marketing boosts visibility and sales, which translates into healthier profits. However, before shelling out money for prime-time commercials or full-page magazine ads, make sure you’ve done your homework. A misdirected marketing plan can be worse than no plan at all.

First, you need to assess what your goals and mission are and whether marketing to urban youth consumers fits into your overall business plan. What age group do you currently market to? Does your product or service fit the urban youth market? Is your product or service “life stage” (defined by age)? If so, it would be difficult to transcend this market. How will it impact your bottom line? Elevate brand value? Increase profits? Increase your visibility in the community?

“If this market doesn’t identify with your product or service, you can’t stretch that brand name. However, you might consider launching a product line geared toward a younger market,” says Buford.

When you put together a campaign for a specific audience, you have to evaluate their lifestyle, how and where they live, their likes and dislikes and their

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