ASIAN YOUTH


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Twentysomething women pose a hard sell
No longer peer-driven teens, young women are independently minded, smarter shoppers who pose a sales challenge

She spends 30 to 40 per cent of her take-home pay on clothes, she dines out a lot, and lives for the here and now. Teresa Oh, 25 is a modern-day hunter-gatherer.

"My friends all struggle with this. We want to enjoy nice things, pleasurable things and we're not putting away money for the future. It's more important to be enjoying the present," she confesses. "It's such an inherent value to enjoy the moment in our generation.

"I spend a few hundred a month on clothing -- it would probably be in the thousands if I made enough," she says.

Oh, an administrative assistant to the dean of continuing studies at Langara College, is a retailer's dream -- if only they knew how to tap into her spending.

While Oh thinks she represents her generation of twentysomething females -- about 14 per cent of the country's population -- frankly, she's only one aspect of a blurry cohort.

They're culturally diverse, international in scope and sophisticated consumers. "Most traditional retailers don't understand this segment," says John Torella, senior partner at J.C. Williams, a Toronto and Chicago marketing firm specializing in retailing. While not in the high-income bracket, they have high discretionary spending power as most don't have mortgages or kids.

"They're hard to target, they're a conundrum. You can't just generalize about them. The idea is one-to-one marketing and mass customization." Especially when it comes to the fashion industry with its huge female market.

One of Oh's favourite shops, bruce, has created an environment for discerning, hip women.

"I love that you can find things unique that aren't super-manufactured and that you see on every street corner on Robson Street," she says, explaining her affinity for bruce. "I feel it's connected to what's happening culturally in Vancouver. They incorporate events like art openings and music; when DJs come into town, they'll have a pre-show party. Their marketing style very much exposes us to cool happenings."

Bruce doesn't advertise, opting instead, to communicate by e-mail, giving valued customers the heads up when an exclusive-to-Canada designer collection comes in, be it Vanessa Bruno from Paris, or Paul + Joe, another French design house. Oh will gladly pay $150 to $200 for a Bruno top or $200 for a pant or skirt. She's not brand loyal -- she looks for well, a "look" that's individual, versatile and says quality. That might include a one-of-a-kind find from a vintage store, but she'll not set foot into eatons or The Bay.

She relishes the new, the modern. "I really like the Volkswagen Beetles and the mini-Coopers. They're fresh and new." She doesn't like blatant marketing. "If something says 'If you want to be cool, then buy this item,' it offends my intelligence. I like the thought-provoking, I like ads that convey an emotion or physical image that reflects modernity and creativity," she says.

Companies have to keep refreshing, re-inventing and revitalizing their products, Torella says. "There's an insatiable appetite for newness. The status quo is not going to work. Even Body Shop made major changes in their look and packaging. And it has to sound real and relevant or it'll go below the radar and get wiped out."

Environics Research Group, based in Toronto, tracks I-generation's values because they are a map to young consumer spending.

They segmented the young spenders into six "youth tribes" based on varying social and personal values. "These groups clearly exist in focus groups and are very much alive and making purchasing decisions every day," says vice-president David MacDonald.

The so-called tribes have been named Security-seeking Ascetics, Social Hedonists, Thrill-seeking Materialists, Autonomous Post-Materialists, New Aquarians and Aimless Dependents (see sidebar for explanations and stats).

This group has left their peer-driven teens, they're no longer total victims to trends and fashion, but they're developing their own sense of style. These twentysomethings -- variously dubbed the Echo Generation, Y-generation, I-generation, Information Generation or Technology Generation -- vary wildly in tastes, lifestyles and wants. It is a group inundated with information and their shopping habits are broader, deeper, and more insightful.

While this group isn't quite as powerful as in the U.S. where they equal the boomer market, they're still a huge factor in Canada because they're a very different customer, Torella says.

The female segment of the I-generation is articulate, computer-savvy, will be making a lot of financial and consumer decisions and don't need their fathers in tow to buy cars or insurance and want to be recognized for it," he says.

Car companies are notorious for their maddening eagerness to alienate women. Saturn, so far, is the only company simpatico to this market. They've taken the "hard" out of selling.

Kelly Kusch, 32, a careful, practical consumer through her twenties, continues to proceed with caution and responded to Saturn's soft approach. She recently bought one, based on careful research and gratitude for the non-threatening sales approach. "I loved the idea of not bargaining with the dealership and trying to get the best deal. It's a set price for everybody. You don't feel stupid and threatened," the Vancouver teacher says.

As well, Saturn offers a 30-day return window. As a teacher with tenuous seniority and lay-offs pending within the month, it hit her security button. "If I lose my job, I can take the car back," she says, just like the woman in the Saturn ad.

"Saturn ads will talk about the 8,000 kilometres between oil changes, about the 30-day return policies," MacDonald says. "Women want practical information they can trust, whereas men tend to be more emotional and buy based on image."

Today, 40 per cent of cars are sold directly to women. They are also buying stereos, computers and products considered 'male' territory. In fact, 85 per cent of men's clothing is chosen by women.

Paco Underhill, author of Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping, translated into 17 languages, says one of the ironies of young women today can be found in their closets: "A piece from Nordstroms sitting next to something from Costco, something vintage next to something Prada," he says.

"When a woman hits her twenties, she starts figuring out who she is and becomes less a fashion victim and more of a fashion maker. That's why the pendulum in the 20-to-30 bracket varies so widely in taste and how vulnerable they are to markets," Underhill says.

When selling to sophisticated, trend-setting young female shoppers, Torella has advice for retailers. "Quality, substance, performance, relevance, value to her life! If you give them that, they'll support it," he says.

"They're not driven by designers or marketing frivolity. There's brand loyalty but the brand has to have style and substance to them," he says, offering Prada, Ikea, Sony, Jeep and Range Rover as companies that are on target with this group.

Gap has hit the wall over the past year-and-a-half by becoming mainstream and omnipresent. New Balance, Abercrombie and Fitch, Eagle and Diesel are all about performance and reaches this audience deftly. Zara is hitting this style-leading segment with 22 collections a year with designer-like styles for the right price.

This group appreciates ethical corporate values. Body Shop is a case in point with environmental and animal-friendly considerations.

And pop cultural heroes have huge impact, despite this group's roar for individuality. "The Ricky Martins of the world, international in flavour, are very attractive," he says.

Bruce owner Campbell McDougall says it's the first generation where the celeb factor is a big issue. "About 90 per cent of press releases from emerging lines talks about celebs who are wearing that line. When Jennifer Aniston was photographed wearing Maharishi pants, a line we carry, we had hoards of young girls wanting to buy them. These brands are recognizing the impact these celebrities have on their target market."

bruce carries a modern, sexy "lifestyle" of housewares, magazines, books, eyewear as well as fashion. McDougall certainly sees a new phenomenon of "shopping dates."

"They'll go to Starbucks, have a latte, wander around stores. It's a way, in the initial stages, of feeling each other out, whether taste levels are in sync and guys are moving to the level of actually enjoying it. Men are less daunted by the prospects of shopping from even a few years ago and certainly from a generation ago."

In fact, says Underhill, who is also the CEO of Envirosell, a retailing research and consulting firm, with offices in New York, Milan, Sao Paulo and Tokyo, the male of our species is increasingly exhibiting female shopping behaviours.

"Men typically displayed more hunter instincts with time concerns than gatherer instincts," he says, "while the female gatherer is often willing to trade time for the pleasure of looking."

"Branding is a blazing hot word," says Torella. "You have to know this group even more than you know yourself to tailor marketing in very customized way. It's not not about mass customization."

"Don't sell to these customers, serve their needs," commands Torella. "They're part hunters. They like the search. Why go to The Bay and see the same old stuff.

Trying to figure out exactly the market for a product is critical in today's environment, he says. "Rather than taking a Sears role, of I-have-something-for-everyone, figure out what your turf is and own it," he says.

This international retailing guru sees Canada as being curiously cosmopolitan with a parochial quality. "I'm talking about a basic conservatism and looking inward with probably a little bit of an inferiority complex," he says.

"Almost all marketing industries market to men as the wallet carriers. We're still dealing with a world owned, managed, designed by men and we're looking for breakthroughs there."

The world of marketing and advertising, he says, is "gender integrated." "The question is, how soon are women going to be calling more of the shots."

The world of marketing to young women, he says, is very much in transition. "And that's why editors assign you stories like the one you're doing."

Bruce doesn't advertise, opting instead, to communicate by e-mail, giving valued customers the heads up when an exclusive-to-Canada designer collection comes in, be it Vanessa Bruno from Paris, or Paul + Joe, another French design house. Oh will gladly pay $150 to $200 for a Bruno top or $200 for a pant or skirt. She's not brand loyal -- she looks for well, a "look" that's individual, versatile and says quality. That might include a one-of-a-kind find from a vintage store, but she'll not set foot into eatons or The Bay.

She relishes the new, the modern. "I really like the Volkswagen Beetles and the mini-Coopers. They're fresh and new." She doesn't like blatant marketing. "If something says 'If you want to be cool, then buy this item,' it offends my intelligence. I like the thought-provoking, I like ads that convey an emotion or physical image that reflects modernity and creativity," she says.

Companies have to keep refreshing, re-inventing and revitalizing their products, Torella says. "There's an insatiable appetite for newness. The status quo is not going to work. Even Body Shop made major changes in their look and packaging. And it has to sound real and relevant or it'll go below the radar and get wiped out."

Environics Research Group, based in Toronto, tracks I-generation's values because they are a map to young consumer spending.

They segmented the young spenders into six "youth tribes" based on varying social and personal values. "These groups clearly exist in focus groups and are very much alive and making purchasing decisions every day," says vice-president David MacDonald.

The so-called tribes have been named Security-seeking Ascetics, Social Hedonists, Thrill-seeking Materialists, Autonomous Post-Materialists, New Aquarians and Aimless Dependents (see sidebar for explanations and stats).

This group has left their peer-driven teens, they're no longer total victims to trends and fashion, but they're developing their own sense of style. These twentysomethings -- variously dubbed the Echo Generation, Y-generation, I-generation, Information Generation or Technology Generation -- vary wildly in tastes, lifestyles and wants. It is a group inundated with information and their shopping habits are broader, deeper, and more insightful.

While this group isn't quite as powerful as in the U.S. where they equal the boomer market, they're still a huge factor in Canada because they're a very different customer, Torella says.

The female segment of the I-generation is articulate, computer-savvy, will be making a lot of financial and consumer decisions and don't need their fathers in tow to buy cars or insurance and want to be recognized for it," he says.

Car companies are notorious for their maddening eagerness to alienate women. Saturn, so far, is the only company simpatico to this market. They've taken the "hard" out of selling.

Kelly Kusch, 32, a careful, practical consumer through her 20s, continues to proceed with caution and responded to Saturn's soft approach. She recently bought one, based on careful research and gratitude for the non-threatening sales approach. "I loved the idea of not bargaining with the dealership and trying to get the best deal. It's a set price for everybody. You don't feel stupid and threatened," the Vancouver teacher says.

As well, Saturn offers a 30-day return window. As a teacher with tenuous seniority and lay-offs pending within the month, it hit her security button. "If I lose my job, I can take the car back," she says, just like the woman in the Saturn ad.

"Saturn ads will talk about the 8,000 kilometres between oil changes, about the 30-day return policies," MacDonald says. "Women want practical information they can trust, whereas men tend to be more emotional and buy based on image."

Today, 40 per cent of cars are sold directly to women. They are also buying stereos, computers and products considered 'male' territory. In fact, 85 per cent of men's clothing is chosen by women.

Paco Underhill, author of Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping, translated into 17 languages, says one of the ironies of young women today can be found in their closets: "A piece from Nordstroms sitting next to something from Costco, something vintage next to something Prada," he says.

"When a woman hits her twenties, she starts figuring out who she is and becomes less a fashion victim and more of a fashion maker. That's why the pendulum in the 20-to-30 bracket varies so widely in taste and how vulnerable they are to markets," Underhill says.

When selling to sophisticated, trend-setting young female shoppers, Torella has advice for retailers. "Quality, substance, performance, relevance, value to her life! If you give them that, they'll support it," he says.

"They're not driven by designers or marketing frivolity. There's brand loyalty but the brand has to have style and substance to them," he says, offering Prada, IKEA, Sony, Jeep and Range Rover as companies that are on target with this group.

Gap has hit the wall over the past year-and-a-half by becoming mainstream and omnipresent. New Balance, Abercrombie and Fitch, Eagle and Diesel are all about performance and reaches this audience deftly. Zara is hitting this style-leading segment with 22 collections a year with designer-like styles for the right price.

This group appreciates ethical corporate values. Body Shop is a case in point with environmental and animal-friendly considerations.

And pop cultural heroes have huge impact, despite this group's roar for individuality. "The Ricky Martins of the world, international in flavour, are very attractive," he says.

Bruce owner Campbell McDougall says it's the first generation where the celeb factor is a big issue. "About 90 per cent of press releases from emerging lines talks about celebs who are wearing that line. When Jennifer Aniston was photographed wearing Maharishi pants, a line we carry, we had hoards of young girls wanting to buy them. These brands are recognizing the impact these celebrities have on their target market."

Bruce carries a modern, sexy "lifestyle" of housewares, magazines, books, eyewear as well as fashion. McDougall certainly sees a new phenomenon of "shopping dates."

"They'll go to Starbucks, have a latte, wander around stores. It's a way, in the initial stages, of feeling each other out, whether taste levels are in sync and guys are moving to the level of actually enjoying it. Men are less daunted by the prospects of shopping from even a few years ago and certainly from a generation ago."

In fact, says Underhill, who is also the CEO of Envirosell, a retailing research and consulting firm, with offices in New York, Milan, Sao Paulo and Tokyo, the male of our species is increasingly exhibiting female shopping behaviours.

"Men typically displayed more hunter instincts with time concerns than gatherer instincts," he says, "while the female gatherer is often willing to trade time for the pleasure of looking."

"Branding is a blazing hot word," says Torella. "You have to know this group even more than you know yourself to tailor marketing in very customized way. It's not not about mass customization."

"Don't sell to these customers, serve their needs," commands Torella. "They're part hunters. They like the search. Why go to The Bay and see the same old stuff.

Trying to figure out exactly the market for a product is critical in today's environment, he says. "Rather than taking a Sears role, of I-have-something-for-everyone, figure out what your turf is and own it," he says.

This international retailing guru sees Canada as being curiously cosmopolitan with a parochial quality. "I'm talking about a basic conservatism and looking inward with probably a little bit of an inferiority complex," he says.

"Almost all marketing industries market to men as the wallet carriers. We're still dealing with a world owned, managed, designed by men and we're looking for breakthroughs there."

The world of marketing and advertising, he says, is "gender integrated." "The question is, how soon are women going to be calling more of the shots."   -  18 May 2002   Vancouver Sun      by Mia Stainsby             

Asian youngsters love money, gadgets: survey

Half of all 12 to 24 year-olds named the Internet as the most helpful medium for product and service information over television and newspapers

Asian youngsters are money-mad, vain and love gadgets yet yearn for world peace, according to a survey on Thursday that painted the region's youth as increasingly wealthy and success-oriented.

The study of 7,200 young people in eight countries found the Internet and technology are fundamental to their lifestyles with 62 per cent of respondents, aged between eight and 24, owning a mobile phone, 45 per cent a desktop computer and 23 per cent an MP3 player.

Half of all 12 to 24 year-olds named the Internet as the most helpful medium for product and service information over television and newspapers, while one-third of them expect to spend even more time online next year.

'A consumption crazy, aspirational, driven generation, they are money-focused yet moral, school is important and success everything,' said Steven Garton, director of media research Asia Pacific for Synovate which conducted the poll for MSN, Internet company Yahoo! and music network MTV.

'Their favourite food is fast, favourite drink is soft and preferred birthday gift a mobile phone.'

The study showed that young Asians have a hefty consumption clout with eight in 10 influencing family shopping for soft drinks and snacks, and three quarters influencing the family fast food purchase.

'However it's not all sport and shopping. Today's young Asians worry about the future ahead and what being an adult may hold for them,' Mr Garton said.

A secure job is the No. 1 concern about growing up for 19 per cent of these Asians, while 16 per cent worry about being financially stable.

The study also showed that while many start off wanting to be doctors, by the time they hit 15 their desire for money develops and their top career choice is running their own business.

There is a sense of excitement about adult life for them, as a fifth look forward to the prospects of having family, and many of them are ready to be independent and influential, the study said.

The single-most change youngsters would like to see is world peace, with almost a fifth saying that was top priority, while almost as many are aspiring activists, wanting to change social problems like drugs and corruption.

Less altruistically, 15 per cent of them said if there was anything they could change in the world it would be their appearance.

They also want to be more popular or simply famous, according to the study of youngsters in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Philippines, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.  - SINGAPORE BUSINESS TIMES    30 June 2005

Technology drives Asian youth market
Half of them regard the Internet as a helpful medium

Young Asians today are multi-tasking, digitally driven and interactive consumers.

They spend about a quarter of their monthly allowances on electronics, ranking mobile phones, laptops and digital cameras as their top three choices of birthday gifts from a list of items that included jewellery.

This was the finding of a survey conducted three months ago which covered about 7,300 young people between the ages of eight to 24 from eight Asian countries. The survey was conducted by Synovate, a global market intelligence firm.

While listening to their MP3 players, Asian youths search the Web for information, e-mail, and to download entertainment and interact with their friends while playing games online.

Some 62 per cent have their own mobile phone and 45 per cent their own desktop computer.

Half of the 12 to 24-year-olds consider the Internet as the most helpful medium for product and service information.

Prashun Dutt, vice-president of research and consumer insights at MTV Networks Asia, said that this connectivity has implications for the way advertisers reach out to their target audience.

Young Asian consumers know exactly what they want as they are likely to have researched products they are interested in online before going down to the showroom or shopping centre.

'When they walk into a shop or they are thinking of buying something, they are far more well informed,' he said.

'When companies want to market a product, they have to involve those areas of proxy experience which the target audience will go into.'

Tom Sipple, director of sales at Yahoo! South-east Asia, said: 'The results from this study reinforce the strength of the Web as a vital media for advertisers wanting to reach out to the tech savvy and highly connected youth audience.'

When it comes to personal relationships, however, Asian youths still prefer tradition, with only 4 per cent of them using online dating.

Although Singaporeans have the highest rate, 68 per cent, for accessing interactive communications when they use the Internet, they have the lowest rate, one per cent, for using online dating. - by Wee Li-En    SINGAPORE BUSINESS TIMES   30 June 2005

 


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