Teenagers spend an extraordinary amount of time online. The latest stats from OFCOM suggest they spend around 27 hours a week1.

And if you need to market to them, then undertaking a successful online marketing campaign requires a different approach than other groups.  Marketing to teenagers is notoriously difficult. This demographic does not yet have defined preferences in terms of brands, so getting through to them can end up being very lucrative. However, the teenagers of today tend not to pay much too much attention to what big media have to say (aside from the odd technology company such as Apple) and they actively ignore advice provided by the older generations. Teenagers today can be more inclined to setting trends rather than actually following them. Another issue for marketers to consider is the fact that many teenagers are now influencing purchases that their parents make, instead of the other way around. When it comes to technology purchases, teenagers are the driving force behind the products bought by their parents and grandparents.

Teenagers Jay and Silent Bob
Teenagers, like Jay and Silent Bob, can be fickle when making decisions

Difficulties in Online Marketing to Teens

Teenagers are less loyal than they were a decade or so ago. These teens are used to new products appearing on the market all the time and will not stick with a brand simply because it is one they are used to. If a new product is ‘the next big thing’, they will change their preference instantly, even if this new product is an entirely different brand to the one they have had before.

What is hot one month may be naff the next. Teenagers are, by nature, fickle, so companies need to continually reinvent or update their products to keep teenagers interested. Moreover, with teenagers always changing their preferences in terms of shopping and social media sites, it can be difficult for companies to keep up, especially those with a limited marketing budget.

What Do Teenagers Want?

Companies need to understand what it is that teenagers want in order to be able to effectively market to them. Teenagers do not care about a particular brand unless it means something to them and unless it provides them with value. Teens are more aware of value than ever before, which is evident on the rise of second-hand clothing stores selling vintage items.

How to Market to Teenagers Using the Web

Teenage Online Marketing

With teenagers changing their brand preferences all the time, you may be wondering how to attract them to your product or service. With the reality that a brand that is doing well one minute can be out of favour the next, this does not mean all is lost. There are some things that can be done to ensure teenagers see your marketing message.

  • Employ a brand ambassador if budget allows
    Many companies will hire a brand ambassador to promote its products or services, and this is a tactic that is highly effective. Nonetheless, when your target audience is teenagers, it is vital that your brand ambassador is someone these individuals can relate to. These days, teenagers are more influenced by a social media presence, such as YouTubers or Viners. When choosing a brand ambassador, find out whom your target audience follow on YouTube or Vine, as this will give you some idea who will provide the most influence in terms of selling your products.
  • Use the same social media that they do
    Social media preferences among teenagers changes all the time. One day, Facebook is big, the next it could be Instagram or Snapchat. It is important to keep up with social media trends and develop marketing campaigns accordingly. It is imperative to advertise on the same social media platforms that teenagers are using if you want them to see your message.
  • Engage with your target audience
    Social media engagement is hugely important for businesses. If you want to entice teenagers, then make them feel important. This could be simply retweeting, commenting, or liking a post. If they have a large number of followers, you could gather a lot of attention for your brand.
  • Consider music platforms for advertising
    Teenagers love music, and many stream their music through websites such as Spotify, Pandora, and YouTube. Make the most of advertising opportunities on the free versions of these sites because that is from where most teenagers will be streaming.
  • Keep it simple
    Teenagers tend to switch off if they are met with lengthy explanations and sentences of why your product is the best. They prefer, short and to the point, and one of the best ways to grab their attention is with an advertising message that can be quickly processed. Short sentences coupled with eye-catching graphics and pictures work best.
  • Consider peak shopping times
    Teenagers tend to spend more money at certain times of the year; this often coincides with the beginning and end of the school year. At the end of the school year, they want to look nice for graduation while at the start of the school year they are focusing on looking their best for going back to school. Businesses should consider promotions at this time of year.
  • Make them laugh
    Teenagers spend a lot of their time watching funny videos and memes on sites such as the aforementioned YouTube, Vine and Facebook. If you want to grab their attention, create something that will make them laugh. They are more likely to share this type of content, which could ultimately do wonders for your brand.
  • Take advice from teenagers
    If you want to market effectively to teens, it is a good idea to seek advice from that demographic. Teenagers will listen to other teenagers about what is cool and what is not, so using them to help create your advertising campaigns is a wise move.
  • Show them rather than tell them
    teenagers want to see how your product will help them rather than hear about it. Use ads that show your product being used as this will be much more effective in getting teens to listen.

What to Remember

If you are lucky enough to create an ad campaign that works, don’t become complacent. Remember that teenagers are fickle and can quickly move on from one great thing to the next. To stay ahead of the competition, you need to be constantly updating and improving your marketing material in line with the ever-changing world of your audience. Use social media effectively and make sure that you keep abreast of what is in and what is not.


  1. OFCOM Adults’ Media Use And Attitudes Report 2015 (PDF)