P&G Targets Teens With Viral Campaign

In an attempt to cash in on the lucrative teen demographic, consumer packaged goods giant Proctor & Gamble has launched a new marketing unit to find trend-setting teens that help form product opinions in their peer groups.

The new unit, called Tremor, aims to gather a group of 200,000 teens identified by P&G as “connectors” — those who are influential in forming teen opinions about products. The Tremor members will be solicited about twice a month for feedback on products, from both P&G and partners, in exchange for a sneak peak at new products and chances to win prizes like gift certificates. The teens would then be asked to spread the word to their friends.

P&G said Tremor membership would be exclusive — just one in ten teens qualify — based on a set of characteristics the company has identified as shared among opinion-making teens. These traits include their social networks and propensity to share information about products with friends.

The teen demographic is a large and lucrative market for advertisers, boasting disposable income and unformed opinions on brands. According to research compiled by 360 Youth, the marketing unit of teen media company Alloy, the 12-17 demographic is 24.3 million strong, spending $120 billion a year.

Samantha Skey, vice president of convergent marketing at 360 Youth, said reaching teens with viral campaigns could pay big dividends.

“It’s very cost efficient if done properly,” said Skey. “If done improperly, you’re immediately identified as a poseur.”

Tremor, which P&G developed internally, will market P&G brands Cover Girl cosmetics and Old Spice deodorant, said Gretchen Muchnick, a P&G spokesperson.

The campaign will use a variety of marketing media, including e-mail and direct mailings. The e-mail aspect of the campaign will aim to capitalize on the so-called viral marketing effect, in which individuals pass along product information to friends and family. While marketers have long sought word-of-mouth buzz, the relative ease of communicating — and tracking communication — on the Internet has sparked a new emphasis on the strategy. Muchnick declined to specify how Tremor identified influential teens for the campaign.

She said the network would launch by the end of the year, and the company had nearly compiled its 200,000 names for the database.

Last week, P&G shook up its online media buying approach, dispersing it from the corporate level to the brand level, in an attempt to integrate its interactive advertising more closely with its offline efforts.

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