Marketing: Friends now as important as brands

July 24th, 2007

The other day I blogged about how brands need to engage in social networks and understand their audience. Following on from this I came across a recent lifestyle research report, commissioned by MTV, Nickelodeon and MSN, due for release today (July 24). It shows that today's under-20s really just value technology as a means to being more connected with friends. It's about gossip, flirting and the latest music, not about the virtual reality of Second Life, which currently is being criticised in the US press.

What youths do care about is feeling part of a community, building an individual identity and being entertained. If a mobile phone, IM or a page on Facebook or MySpace helps, then great. The dramatic change today is that youths never stop communicating with each other.

What does this mean for brands eager to take a share of the kids' pocket money?

The main lesson is that outsiders (brands) need to get pulled into the conversations that youths are involved in. They cannot interrupt the discussion or force their way in, but provide the youth with reasons to bring them up in their conversations, hence why 'Friends are now as important as brands when it comes to marketing.'

I've noticed a trend of upcoming bands, budding artists with little or no cash operating MySpace/Facebook profiles. A trend which will only grow and be of beneficial use in the long-term.


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