What's there to eat?

Jerry Dryer, Market Analyst
The oft heard lament of the teenage male does spell big opportunities. These guys can and do chow down one third more calories than any other segment of the population—without gaining a spare tire. For many, it is a feeding frenzy from the time the alarm starts ringing until lights out—2,800 or more calories a day. Frequently, they may even slip out to the refrigerator for a slice of cold pizza in the middle of the night.

Fortunately, pizza is one of the direct and lasting connections between teenage guys and the dairy biz. Ice cream is another direct connect for boys. But then again, everyone eats ice cream from cradle to grave.

Young men consume a disproportionate share of the world’s cheeseburgers, fries and COLA. But, their milk (beverage) consumption starts a steady decline at about age 16. I don’t think they go near yogurt.

Young women don’t want to get fat. So, they stop drinking milk at age 11. Yogurt makers have spent some time and energy attracting women of all ages. But I’m not convinced many in the dairy business have done much to specifically attract female teenagers to dairy. Vending has some potential, on the male side of the ledger.

Today’s teenagers (those born in the 1980s and 1990s) are the largest generation of teens ever in the United States. There are more teenagers today than Boomers – the previous pig-in-the-python generation – of several generations ago. Researchers say this generation – sometimes referred to as the Millennials – has the potential to be our next “hero” generation, supplanting the self-involved and materialistic Boomers.

Teenage guys just can't get enough pizza.
So, the question is: How do we grab the attention of the young man and woman of today? And make no mistake, they are young men and young women (not boys and girls) and they use their minds. Author William Strauss tells us: They are “a power house generation, full of technology planners, community shapers, institution builders and world leaders…”
  • Research tells us that today’s teenagers feel they belong to a global community more so than a city or state or country. They welcome diversity, different races and cultures.

  • They are optimistic beyond the usual invincible mantra of earlier generations. They understand that life is very complex, but they are convinced that they will be able to handle future developments. Life is pretty good right now and they’re firmly convinced their lives will become even better.

  • Teens are fickle. They go through idols and fashion phases like a hot knife through butter. They don’t dislike or disapprove of the previous idol/fashion; they’ve just found something new. Because they’re so savvy technologically, these “fads” spread across the country, sometimes the world, quickly.

National advertising works. Teenagers seem to all be on the same page. However, they turn the pages rather quickly. Britney was making a Pepsi commercial before she and her milk moustache ad were published in a magazine.

I hate to pick on you Britney, but there’s one other problem with your moustache shot. You look like a loner, like a loser. Get some friends. Truly “successful” teenagers are part of a group, of a team.

But don’t take my word for it. If you really want to do some marketing aimed at this generation, talk to them. I’m not convinced many people, even those whose research is cited above, really understand teenagers.

After everything I’ve seen and read, I’d say: Go to the source. Let teenagers do your marketing to teenagers.