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Most of us who work in brand marketing are far removed from our teenage years. Even for those of us in our twenties, the world has changed so rapidly that it can be difficult to fully relate to what today’s teenagers experience. Yet, this understanding is crucial for brands that create and market products for teens. Teens are most attracted to those brands that “get” them. So, what can a brand—perhaps run by well-meaning but “older” adults—do to connect with teenagers authentically?

This was the question a well-known CPG (food manufacturer) company brought to C+R. Several product teams throughout the organization identified teens as their target market and were looking for an innovative way to learn more about teens’ lives and their perceptions on topics ranging from current events to new products and packaging. With this information, the client hoped to better connect with teenaged consumers and to offer products that would show the brand “got” them.

The C+R communities and panel team created a teen micro community—an ongoing, online qualitative board that connected our client’s team with a pre-recruited group of teenagers. Over the course of a year, the client was able to deep dive into teens’ unique problems, needs, and experiences and use these insights to create and refine products that are more relevant to teens’ lives. 

Problem

A well-known CPG (food manufacturer) company had several business divisions interested in gathering foundational and directional insights from teenaged consumers. They were looking for a way to get to know more about teens’ lives, thoughts, and feelings as a way to increase empathy for how they navigate the world. The client also wanted to get teens' opinions on new product offerings and messaging campaigns. 

They approached C+R for a solution that would allow them to achieve their business goals. The C+R team’s approach was to build an ongoing qualitative panel or “teen council” that would allow them to:

  • Build holistic insights about teens through a lens into their lives, including specific information about food products and beverages
  • Unearth teens’ perspectives on relevant ad hoc topics of interest (e.g., current events, culture, food trends)
  • Explore and optimize product elements (ideas, concepts, messaging, etc.)
Result

Across the lifespan of the teen council, our client gained deep insights on a wide variety of topics ranging from teens' thoughts on world events, their plans for the holidays, their futures, and their perceptions of new product flavors. 

Images, videos, and journals brought these teens' words and ideas to life, helping the client to develop a deep understanding of what it's like to be a teenager today, which built empathy for them, and insights into how this cohort wants and expects brands to interact with them. Our client was able to use these learnings to improve product offerings to make them more relevant to teens' lives.

Solution

C+R offers clients different types of online communities to assist with addressing business issues by planning, building, and managing online community engagement. The C+R analytic team created an ongoing qualitative micro community of teens to give our client continued access to a pre-profiled group of them in grades 9-12 from across the United States. Through a series of synchronous and asynchronous activities, the client team was able to learn more about these teenagers’ lives and their thoughts and feelings on new products and advertising campaigns. 

 The teen micro community provided the ability for the client team to build empathy and do deep dives into key areas across a variety of topics. We included at least one touchpoint per month to keep both clients and respondents engaged; these activities included an alternating cycle of live-moderated and asynchronous discussions. Each month, teens participated in either live, moderated focus groups or in asynchronous activities such as polls, journals, and/or video and photo uploads so that the client could learn more about their lives and their feelings about the clients’ products and ideas.

Additionally, the client team was kept informed throughout the life of the teen micro community via monthly brainstorming meetings, live video debriefs, toplines after each monthly activity, and calendar invitations for the process meetings and monthly activities.

The platform was mobile with desktop access to allow teenagers to interact in whatever way they felt most comfortable, based on what forms of technology they most preferred. 

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