The Secret of Eternal Youth

Regularly, Avantgarde CEO Martin Schnaack addresses current challenges in experiential marketing, be it changes in society, new trends, or old habits. In this post he discusses the difference between youth and being young.

When artsy trend forecasters K-Hole recently published a report on the death of age and presented the idea of youth as an attitude, it struck a chord with me. Avantgarde’s very own Trendbüro has been banging the drum about „Dauerjugendlicher“ (literally: eternal adolescent) for years. Changes in society and a turn towards individualism, health and beauty, impermanence of relationships of all kinds, and advances in health and medicine make for active people regardless of their biological age.

What does this mean for brands? Gone are the days of clear-cut target audiences. In the past marketers trusted targeting 18 to 24-year-olds to achieve lifelong brand loyality. Now, consumers question their attitudes time and again, and an unbound access to information leads to constant comparisons and a strive for lifelong improvement. We have reached a new level of personal freedom and autonomy. With it comes the growing need for orientation and reduction of complexity. In 2012, Ernst&Young introduced the idea of the chameleon consumer, „a constantly changing persona, who defies the confines of traditional market segmentation.“ There you go.

Furthermore, there are a number of traditional beliefs that recently went out the window: A progressively more conservative attitude with age? Studies show that younger generations are often more bourgeois than their parent generation, from values and rebellious attitudes (or lack thereof) to fashion ideals.

How on earth do you “rejuvenate” a brand when youth is not a matter of being young anymore? Still, this is a frequent task we are given in creative briefings.

On the other hand, trying to specifically target “best agers” – as has been our task many a times – is just as confusing: They are just as active and well-informed as younger consumers, and worst of all: They resent being addressed as older folks.

The chance for marketers lies exactly in these dissolving target groups: By creating a brand experience that transcends pigeon-holing and offers a genuine experience, a feeling of being part of a group. Why? With the end of traditional categories people want to feel a real sense of belonging, being members of a unique “club”. Interest- and passion-based communities are on the rise. Sharing on social networks is necessary, as these new communities are not based on geographical or even socio-cultural foundations.

(Almost) needless to say that we at Avantgarde have been carefully monitoring this process. To create relevant brand experiences you have to use all available data, adapt your marketing to your ever-changing consumers and create some lasting value – and all of it instantaneously. McKinsey have done a great job outlining the challenges of the emerging ‘on-demand marketing culture‘ – now it is on us to create matching campaigns.

Photo: Grzegorz Łobiński/Flickr