How Not To Market To Young People — Written By A Teenager by@sarvasvkulpati

How Not To Market To Young People — Written By A Teenager

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Sarvasv Kulpati

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I’m no expert in marketing, so I cannot tell you how to market to me. However, I am an expert at getting marketed at, and I’ve seen my fair share of good and bad marketing for teens like me, so what I can tell you is how not to market to me.

I’m not representative of all young people, so do not take my opinions in this as a comprehensive guide for every single teen in the world.

Don’t Ask Me To Buy Your Product

For teenagers, other people’s opinions are very important. If I am going somewhere, buying something, or talking to someone, it will probably be after discussing it with my friend group and getting their approval.

If I see an ad telling me to buy a product, I will ignore it. Even if the ad is funny, or compelling. In the end, I’ll buy it only if the people close to me think it is useful.

So to make me use your product, you need someone I trust to tell me about it. This can be friends, but it can also be people I follow on social media. For example, Casey Neistat, an influential vlogger and filmmaker, receives products to review all the time. If he likes it, I develop a newfound respect for the product, mainly because I respect Casey Neistat.


This doesn’t mean that you should do paid influencer marketing though. Look at just about any paid youtube video that blatantly promotes products and you’ll see that the viewers aren’t always too happy about it.

Don’t Force Ads On Me

Developing upon the previous point, if I see a popup asking me to subscribe to something, or an ad before the youtube video, my attention immediately focuses not on the ad, but the button required to close it.

Here’s a fun fact — I have never clicked a youtube ad.

However, I have researched and gotten really interested in products validated by youtubers I watch.

I’ll give the example of a youtuber named Logan Paul. Although I personally don’t enjoy his videos — they are pretty immature (even for a teenager), he uses an interesting strategy to get his viewers to buy his products. He finds points in the video to segue into self-promoting his own merchandise. Now even though it may be a break from the narrative, it is less jarring than directly playing an ad on videos for a different target audience.

Quick fact, he’s now worth more than a million dollars.

And that drives into another point about online advertising. Products just aren’t targeted well enough. To prove my point, I just opened youtube, right now, as I am writing this post, and I have an advertisement in a language I do not speak.

Don’t Try And Catch On To Trends Just For The Sake Of It

Sure our generation has developed new vocabulary that we use to refer to things, but that does not mean that you have to incorporate it into your marketing without understanding them.

Adding hashtags to your ad doesn’t make it cool, using millennial vocabulary doesn’t make it cool, and adding a generic celebrity doesn’t make it cool.


Case in point, this:


If You Are Marketing Something, At Least Try And Make It Cool

As far as my limited knowledge has led me to understand, this is a basic rule of a lot of marketing, after all, Seth Godin wrote a book about it. However, a lot of products just don’t appeal to young people.

Overly serious and heavy products just don’t appeal to most teenagers. Teenagers usually want fun, often silly ways to use their time and share things with their friends.

This is why products like Snapchat and its filters, which may seem silly, do so well.


As a young person, I like stuff that I find out about through word of mouth and not blatant advertising.

When advertisements are forced on me through social media, it usually does more harm than good.

What does the most harm, however, is brands trying to use millennial vocabulary and memes to try and make their marketing “relatable” to a younger audience.

Finally, make a product that is fun and not overly serious

Thanks for reading,


Check out my other stories!

Apple’s Speciality Isn’t Hardware Or Software —

A Message From A Fifteen Y/O to Anyone Working With Chatbots —

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