TV Still Most Effective for Brands Targeting Youth

May 5, 2009

Television remains the most effective medium for reaching today’s youth, and it also is most efficient for introducing young people to brands and helping to shape their decisions about purchasing, according to study results released by MTV Networks International (MTVNI), a unit of Viacom Inc.

The study, “A Beta Life Youth,” finds that one in four young people between ages 12-24 report that they first see or hear of brands or products from TV ads, and 60% claim that TV ads play a role in their brand decisions.

Though these findings are most prevalent when youth are in the market for technology items – such as electronic goods – TV advertising endorses a brand’s position and image and also has an effect on purchase decisions for clothes and fashion items (50% agree TV has an effect).

TV Elevates Perception of Quality

A brand’s appearance on TV elevates its status and gives it an image of quality among youth, the study found. Young people also tend to trust TV channels, with the majority of youth reporting they have a favorite channel that they always tune into (80% in US, 73% in UK, 70% in Germany and 88% in India). The exception: Japanese youth have much less affiliation to particular TV channel (38%), MTVNI said.

TV, Online Increasingly Interrelated

Though TV is important to youth in and of itself, it also is one of the most dominant ways of directing youth online, with both TV and online media becoming increasingly interrelated, said MTVNI. Both media contribute to the pathway to purchase, though the study reveals that brand image matters more on TV, while information and validation matter more online.

The research shows that the online world is playing a bigger part in the brand decision process, with 71% agreeing that the internet makes choosing a brand easier, while blogs, review sites and social networking sites are increasingly important in affecting brand decisions. For example, website reviews are the fourth most important factor for movie decisions (behind friends, TV and cinema ads) and they play an equally important part as official websites when youth are looking to purchase electronic items.

Mature Approach to Brand Decisions

Young people have surprisingly mature values when it comes to their brand choices, the research found, noting that practical considerations rank highest when youth determine a brand’s desirability. Youth between ages 12 and 24 deem quality, history and trust as the most important attributes a brand can possess; 18-24-year-olds are more concerned with a brand’s history, and 51% agree that, “knowing a brand has been good for a long time,” makes it desirable.


Overall, across all markets, the vast majority of young people (69%) now research all purchases before they buy anything, the study found:


Brands Mean Different Things to Different People

The research found that the concept of a “brand” means different things to different people. Youth are most likely to see a brand as a company, name, label or logo, while half of respondents think a brand is an image. This image-brand association is most common in Germany (where 56% agree). Indian youth are much more likely than other nationalities to associate a brand as a trend and ‘a way of belonging’ (25% agree).

Across all markets, less than 4% say they pay no attention at all to brands. Japanese youth are the most cynical toward brands, MTVNI said, with one in three reporting that brands are not something they pay attention to.

The study also reveals that young people are most likely to favor certain brands and have favorites, but the majority of youth are open to others.

Additional international study highlights:

  • German and Japanese youth are less driven by a brand name and say they prefer to purchase whatever seems good (31% in Germany and 37% in Japan). However, this figure is much lower in the US (19%) and the UK and India (22%).
  • German youth are most concerned with a brand’s history, with 64% saying that this makes a brand desirable. The global average is 46%.
  • 87% of youth in India research purchases before they buy, as do 80% of young people in Germany. A smaller number, 2 in 3, do so in the UK and US.
  • Reading about products in blogs and social networks plays a part in the decision process for 1 in 3 young people in India when they are looking to buy consumer electronics such as an MP3 player or mobile phone.
  • One-third of young people in the US say that TV ads are important to their decisions about fashion, while only one in five agree that celebrity endorsement plays a part.
  • One in three 12-24-year-olds olds in the US claim they talk about brands ‘a lot,’ while only one in four do so in the UK and Germany.
  • Indian youth are the most likely to talk about brands, with two in three saying they do so ‘a lot’).
  • 62% of the respondents across the five markets agree that they watch more of a TV channel if the channel has a website that enables them to catch up on shows. This is most prevalent in India and the UK (74% and 66%, respectively).
  • 62% of respondents across all markets agree that when they watch a show online they prefer to see it from a TV channels website. This is also most prevalent in India and the UK (72% and 73%, respectively).

“Despite the economic climate and challenging circumstances for advertisers, we still see a proven ability for TV advertising to reach the target youth audience in the most direct, impactful way”” said Jules Robinson SVP, Viacom Brand Solutions International. “It is also significant that w”re registering the rise of the influence of blogs and internet research to inform purchasing decisions amongst these consumers. This highlights the real importance of online reputation management for brands seeing their names increasingly widespread and the associated need to engage in comprehensive 360 degree campaigns.”

About the research: The study, “A Beta Life Youth,” was designed to understand how technology has impacted on the social lives of young people around the world, and explores how these lifestyle changes affect their relationship with friends, family, entertainment media, communication technologies, advertising and brands. Commissioned by OTX Europe in association with five leading brands, MTV Networks, 20th Century Fox, Fox Mobile Group, Nokia and Channel 4 (a British broadcasting network) the research was conducted in 5 markets; UK, US, Germany, India and Japan between September and December 2008 among 8,000 technology-embracing youth between ages 12 and 24.


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