Teens WOM factor

Teens gab about brands more than consumers as a whole - but contrary to what we might expect, relatively few of those conversations take place online, reports MediaPost. According to TalkTrack, an ongoing study of 36,000 consumers between the ages of 13 and 69 (4,900 teens, ages 13 to 17), conducted by Keller Fay Group, which specializes in word-of-mouth (WOM), just 13 percent of teens discuss brands online, including email (3 percent), texting/IM (7 percent) and social networking 3 percent), versus 7 percent of the general public's.

For WOM that takes place offline, 75 percent occurs face-to-face/in person - nearly the same in-person incidence among the general population (77 percent), and about 10 percent of teens' offline brand WOM takes place in traditional/voice phone conversations, compared to 15 percent of the general public's.


Similarly, 69 percent of teens have one or more conversations per day that include food/dining brands, versus 54 percent and 58 percent about beverages versus 46 percent of the total public. The top 20 most-discussed brands among teens are, in order: Coca-Cola, Apple, Verizon, iPod, Ford, Pepsi, McDonald's, AT&T, Sony, Nike, Dell, Chevrolet, Microsoft, Sprite, Toyota, Walmart, Sprint, Samsung, T-Mobile and youth-oriented apparel retailer Hollister. The top 20 most-discussed brands among the general public, also in order, are: Coca-Cola, Verizon, Walmart, AT&T, Pepsi, Ford, Apple, McDonald's, Sony, Dell, Chevrolet, Toyota, Target, Sprint, HP, iPod, Nike, Microsoft, Honda and T-Mobile. Comparing the two lists, Sprite, Samsung and Hollister are the three brands that make teens' top 20 but not the general public's.


Keller Fay Group CEO Ed Keller says the significant overlap in the brands appearing in the teen and general public top 20 lists appears to have much to do with "visual cues" as WOM triggers. He cites recent research from Wharton marketing professor Jonah Berger confirming that the products that tend to have the most sustained WOM over time are ones for which we most frequently see visual cues in our daily lives - frequently in the form of actual product usage, as well as advertising and marketing. This, says Keller, underlines the importance of taking a holistic, sustained approach to WOM that includes product usage, advertising, point-of-sale activity and promotional strategies. For marketers looking to engage teens, in particular, a key value in teen versus general public brand WOM behavior comparisons may lie in using them as a jumping-off point to analyze what controllable factors tend to drive WOM among teens -- specifically, whether the channels and messages being employed by their brands facilitate sparking conversations about them, Keller says.