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Advertising to Youth Consumerism

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Advertising to Youth Consumerism
Mark Abram’s book “The Teenage Consumer,” was the first influential sociological study of youth culture. Abrams was a market researcher and his book was an empirical survey of a new consumer group that had emerged in the 1950’s. This new consumer group was commonly referred as ‘youth culture,’ which was associated with working class males. Abrams suggested that youth culture developed in the 50’s as a result of the wealth of the decade. Abrams focused his research on the working class and not middle class youth. Therefore young people had relatively large disposable incomes, thus they spend it on leisure goods and activities such as coffee and milk bars, fashion clothes and hairstyles, cosmetics, Rock and Roll records, films and magazines, scooters and motorbikes, dancing and dance halls. Therefore we see their spending habits as an expression of their lack of responsibilities and dependants. Abrams argued that although this youth spending revealed a distinct leisure group, it didn’t reflect any sort of rebellion. He said that teenagers still maintained their key values of home, school, and work while their central values remained strong as with those of their parents and work mates. However in today’s advertisements for all types of consumer products are generally focused on those individuals who like the kids of the 50’s have a disposal income. Thus in today’s market we see many ads that are focused on particular consumer group—the middle and upper income portion of society. In today’s fast passed world advertisements are constantly at odds with other ads promoting similar products.

Over the last 25 years of advertising one sees the changes as consumer products have changed. Consumer products made by various manufacturers are strictly targeting a particular market segment. Although these advertisers pay little attention on who purchases their products, as long as sales are high sales for their goods and services. While what they purchase represents their identity. Consumer products range from cosmetics, soft drinks, cars, internet providers, health drinks, health foods, residential developments/ living accommodations and of course vacation spots. Each ad for these products has a certain audience that it hopes will go out and purchase the product. Thus most cosmetic ads are for young women. Ads for particular sports equipment such as Puma, or Nike can be seen as targeting both genders. It could be said that ads today have a particular impact on teens in that many of the ads depict products that say if you want to be popular or sexy or attract men then you have to use our products. Many products show a young, beautiful woman who depicts that one has to look a certain way in order to be noticed. The same can be said for men’s products. The underlying message conveys that one has to use a particular product in order to attract the opposite sex.

This can be seen in most ads for cosmetics, perfumes, clothes and or accessories. Thus advertising can be viewed as an attempt to manipulate potential customers into buying their product(s). Ads are therefore seen as tempting a particular audience into buying a certain product or service, specially to look like or have a product that will allow the individual to say “I use product x look at me.” We can see that advertisers don’t realize that they are actually stereotyping genders based on masculine and feminine. People nowadays are so caught up on how they look and what they own, resulting in many people to judge a person based on the products they appear with. Advertising today shows models that are generally young men and women. These models are usually tall, good looking and in the case of the men usually physically fit. In the case of a woman she is often depicted having long hair and for the most part is white. This gives the impression that one must look like this in order to appreciate the product. The basic concept of today’s ads displayed is masculine, buff, young male models and tall, thin beautiful women displayed in various poses intended to attract a particular portion of the population. As a result this will affect the potential consumer, especially the youth because they are considered to be in the adjusting stage where they are still determining who they really are.

By seeing these ads they may think that they have to look like ‘them’ in order to be pretty/handsome while having the ability to attract the opposite sex. Advertisers nowadays target their products towards the population of 18-30 years old. They choose this population group, since they are the ones who would usually be seen to consume these products. For instance teenagers are seen to be in a vulnerable stage at this point where they can be easily manipulated by these advertisements, as a result they might purchase these products. As they consume these products they will feel that they are staying up with the current trends and won’t feel left out, thus the ones that don’t purchase these products will be viewed as being in a minority of the consumers that are not up-to-date in fashion or consumer products. This shows that advertisers are well aware on how the mind of these teenagers works. They realize that children purchase goods and services not only because it attracts them but also they buy it based on what their friends have, what will make them popular among their group and because of what your idol or favorite celebrity is using. For the age population between 25-30 years old they could be viewed as a group who are adjusting to a new lifestyle of work and having disposable income. As such, many ads are focused on this particular population group in order to manipulate these individuals into purchasing products that say, “I know what’s fashionable, hip and up date.”

As shown in the graph that the higher our education is or the older we are, the less likely it is for us to consume clothes in a fast period of time or to keep up with the trend or even consume other consumer goods. This is due to the fact that adults usually have a more mature mind, where they tend to differentiate on their needs and wants. When looking at the consumer consumptions we are able to identify that male consume more products compared to women. As Abram has mentioned that during the 50’s this was due to the fact that male earned more money than ever before thus they were seen spending more on consumer goods.

Marxist theories account for some diversity, because they focus on classes and class-fractions rather than youth as a whole. Stuart Hall and Tony Jefferson described youth subcultures as symbolic or ritualistic attempts to resist the power of bourgeois hegemony by consciously adopting behavior that appears threatening to the establishment. Conversely, Marxists of the Frankfurt School of social studies argue that youth culture is inherently consumerist and integral to the divide-and-rule strategy of capitalism. They argue that it creates generation gaps and pits groups of youths against each other (e.g. mods and rockers), especially as youth culture is the dominant culture in the west. The relationship between youth culture and consumerism is rapidly growing stronger everyday. In today’s world, many youth cannot distinguish between “wants” and “needs”, and our capitalist economy often leads them to the fetishism of goods and services. Youth in our society often have the tendency to identify strongly with the products and services that they consume, and while they have more buying power now than ever before, they are also more gullible and confused. In addition, they are preyed upon by the media due to their desire to become socially accepted. In today’s world, youth are a primary concern in our materialistic culture. Therefore we can see this through the eight advertisements and their positive and negative effects on the targeted audience.

The eight ads were; Tom Ford cologne, Calvin Klein jeans, Jasmine clothes, Equinox gym, Absolut vodka, Diesel, Sisley, and Puma. Each of these ads has a particular target market, generally focusing on a relative young population 18-30 years old. However the focus of these ads is for both men and women depending upon the ad. The eight ads appeal can be considered as lifestyle ads or a slice of life in that they each conveys a particular gender, age and a style of life that many young people desire. Overall we can conclude that the youth generation is considered to be at a stage where they still can differentiate the difference between what they want; they are often insecure and rebellious, which makes it a lot easier for advertisers to set them as their main target. We can also see that some consumer ads are focused on models posed in suggestive positions, which conveys a hidden message that attracts the opposite sex. Thus the advertisement shown by these certain companies are seen to mostly exploit young women and men. As what people say, “You are what you buy,” meaning that people always criticize someone based on what they wear or own.

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