Lessons from Bieber Fever
Bieber Fever has struck. With hits like “Baby” and “Never Let You Go” the 16-year-old heartthrob has captured the gaze of preadolescent girls. The Bieber crush allows the preteen girl to imagine her future romantic life in a safe environment, thus filling a void for self-development. Simultaneously, the brand shepherds its consumers into the next stage of maturation by offering the next, adult brand of artist. Marketers can learn from the success of Justin Bieber.
By Lindsey Morel, Analyst.
Throngs of prepubescent girls can be heard for miles screaming upon the mere mention of heartthrob Justin Bieber. His name tops Twitter’s most listed, with girls hoping for the day that he’ll reply “@bieberfan42 I love you too girl.” He has over 18 million Facebook fans, his own YouTube channel and is set to release a 3D movie this year. The 16-year-old Canadian has indisputably become a cultural phenomenon.
With each generation, “the boy” has changed: Think David Cassidy, Donny Osmond, New Kids on the Block, N*Sync. But the cult-like following of preadolescent females remains. Why? Caught between the innocence of childhood fantasy and blunt strike of adult reality, the preteen seeks safety in her rapidly changing world. Enthusiastically belting the lyrics of “One Less Lonely Girl,” Bieber allows her to experiment with her emerging identity as a teenage woman without having the complications of a real partner. He allows preadolescent females to play the role of girlfriend without the risk of a pushy boyfriend or the interface of a Barbie doll.
What happens when these Bieber-loving preadolescent females are ready to transition fully to teenagerhood? They turn to Bieber’s mentor, friend and founder: R&B star Usher. Usher signed Bieber just days after he was discovered on YouTube. He created a sensation that mimicked his own style and mannerisms, thereby creating a brand extension of himself used to shepherd in new fans. Implications and Action Items
Marketers must not forget that a 13-year-old girl does not wake up on her birthday magically transformed into a teenager. As demonstrated by Bieber Fever, there is a unique opportunity to target audiences between tangible life stages. This is a particularly effective marketing strategy when employed to transition consumers to a new or extended brand.Create new targets
: Brands can seek to occupy the unique spaces between life stages by listening to consumer needs.
Create transitional brands
- E.g. Opportunity: Midlife consumers feel neglected and even offended by advertisers who treat them as if they’re old, something they certainly do not feel.
- E.g. Application: The Skittles brand identified a similar territory in the transition between child and teen for prepubescent boys. Their work spins reality, turning a dull adult reality on its head with childish play. One commercial follows a man at a job interview as he slyly feeds Skittles to his interviewer using only his beard.
: Brands seeking to extend their consumer base can look to the ways in which consumers come to know and accept a brand as part of their lives. If it is an emotionally challenging transition, the brand should consider offering a safe brand introduction.
- E.g. Opportunity: Drug treatments that require consumers to step out of their comfort zone to treat (injections, infusions) could benefit by preparing treaters to move from their current care (a daily tablet) to the more aggressive care.
- E.g. Application: Victoria’s Secret Pink Collection ushers in teenage girls to its more risqué corsets and lace by introducing the brand to them at a younger age with cute, flirty wear. The bright collection allows the teenage wearer to celebrate her body for herself rather than a man. It is a safe and age-appropriate introduction to the Victoria’s Secret core brand, one that has effectively established brand loyalty.