Demystifying Youth Culture’s Marketing Myths - Part 3
by Bill Carter
In this month’s column we will examine the power behind the marketing concepts “DIY” and “limited edition,” where both of the so-called “phenomena” come from, and most importantly, what they mean to Millennials.
It wasn’t all that long ago that 17-year-old Sean M, a member of the insights network Fuse Source, cut the sleeves off an old button down shirt, hemmed the new edges, and sewed a hood to the collar. Ask Sean why he goes through the trouble of modifying his wardrobe, and he’ll tell you it’s because he’s a creative type, and how he dresses reflects his individuality.
Sean’s not alone in his DIY habits, nor is he on the forefront of a new DIY trend. Instead, DIY has a place in youth’s enduring journey toward the unique. Take for example the hand-studded leather jacket clad punk rock teens of the late 70’s, the tie-dyed tribe of the 60’s, or even the resourceful youth of the 50’s – youth culture and its collective desire to customize and personalize has been seen throughout recent history.
Today the DIY tradition continues to grow under the contributions of savvy brands like NikeID and Custom New Era Caps, two examples of companies allowing consumers to take control over elements like color and logo choice on trademark products via online platforms. When polled, Fuse Source participants (all under the age of 29) overwhelmingly agreed that if their favorite brands didn’t already offer customization, they should consider making it an option. “I would love it if I could change cardigans [from any major clothing manufacture] into V-necks or crew,” responded one 20 year-old. “My life would be complete.”
Other brands offer another manifestation of the DIY habit – the “limited edition” product. When something is limited edition it usually means that it’s available for a restricted time or through a select number of retailers. To some consumers such a purchase means gaining entrance into an exclusive club, adding perceived value to that item.
Various limited edition products are developed in conjunction with up-and-coming artists, like Mountain Dew’s Green Label Art Program which featured on Mountain Dew bottles the artwork from a select number of globally recognized urban artists. Available in limited quantities only, art collectors and skateboarders rushed for ownership. Some bottles even landed on websites like eBay where they sold well above retail to enthusiastic bidders.
In a world where virtually any item is available to any buyer, Millennials are attuned to the desire to stake claim on something that’s exclusive. When marketers allow for young consumers to have influence over an element of design that item instantly becomes a one-of-a-kind – the ultimate exclusive.
Bill Carter is a partner at leading youth culture marketing services firm, Fuse. Bill has advised some of the most successful companies in America, including Pepsi, Yahoo!, Sony, Harley-Davidson, Gatorade, Converse, and others. He has been awarded Sports Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 Award as one of the most influential and important young executives in sports and named one of the 20 most influential people in action sports by that same media. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Fuse is an award-winning youth marketing agency that connects brands with youth through sports, music, fashion and other relevant youth cultural interests. Located in New York, NY and Burlington, VT, Fuse’s services include Consulting, Social Media and PR, Creative Services, Research and Event Marketing. For white papers, research, and other information, please visit us at www.fusemarketing.com, www.facebook.com/FuseLLC or www.twitter.com/fuse_marketing.