Finding Young Men’s Fancy

Oct 5, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Advertisers trying to reach the elusive young male demographic, take note: Modern-day dudes are more interested in PlayStations and PCs than pigskin and pilsner.
That’s the verdict from an exhaustive survey of more than 1,100 young men ages 18 to 34 commissioned by guy-centric cable network G4. According to the study—dubbed “Hunting With Lightsabers: A Field Guide to Men 18-34”—today’s hombres are more passionate about the Internet (93%), new technology (88%) and computers (88%) than about professional sports (74%).
Hunting With Lightsabers
“Young guys today are vastly different than guys from even just a few years ago,” said G4 President Neal Tiles. “The old formulas of sports and booze and babes that we used to use to capture young guys isn’t enough anymore. They’re still interested in those things, but it isn’t a formula you can just plug into anymore and automatically be successful.”
In other words, young men do not live on ESPN alone.
The G4 study also finds an overall power shift among men from the jocks and frat-boy crowd to the freaks-and-geeks set. Men under 35 now are likely to boast of their tech savviness rather than be ashamed of their nerdier tendencies.
“Athletes were the big names of past generations,” Mr. Tiles said. “Today it’s the founders of YouTube or developers of video games. It’s not your traditional heroes or icons that men identify with anymore.”
G4 greenlit “Hunting With Lightsabers” as a means of backing up some internal assumptions executives at the network had about their target audience, and to give advertisers a better sense of how to reach today’s lads.
Mr. Tiles said the G4 survey shows it’s a fallacy that young men are hard to market to because they don’t watch as much TV anymore.
“A lot of people fall into the trap … of saying that they’re hard to reach,” he said. “But they’re not hard to reach. They’re easy to reach, because they actually consume so much media.”
Getting Engaged
Instead, Mr. Tiles said young men “are hard to engage” because they hop among so many media platforms, from TV and Web sites to mobile phones and videogames.
“If you’re trying to reach them by just advertising on one program, then, yeah, you have a problem,” he said. “The way we’re looking at it is that it’s no longer just about linear TV. We’re engaging our viewers everywhere.”
As for Madison Avenue, just 11% of the men in the survey said they felt understood by advertisers. Nonetheless, most say they’re open to be influenced if the message is right.
Among the techniques that G4’s study suggests might work for advertisers: playing up individuality, emphasizing intelligence and not forcing a message.
More specifically, the survey finds that only 7% of young men admit to following trends and that 74% of identity themselves as “a sensitive guy.”
Somewhere, Alan Alda is smiling.


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