Just like everyone else, teens want a VOICE, especially when it comes to the products or services that they use or need. Yet recruiting teens is hard and engaging them is even harder. One of the biggest challenges around teen marketing research is navigating both the teen and their parents’ needs, concerns, and interests. Conducting teen market research requires extra effort around keeping teens engaged, especially for longer-term communities.

Here a few common teen market research hurdles we have seen and tips on how to overcome them:

Building Trust with Parents: Recruiting through the parent and gaining their trust is a necessary first step. Parental consent is necessary for participants under age 18. Parents should be offered an overview of the study purpose and the chance to preview study questions. Building a detailed study landing page and having parents help with the application process and maintaining clear communication are easy ways to build trust. 
Sparking Teen Interest : Gaining a parent’s trust is only the first step. The teen must also want to participate. Researchers can use language and imagery to sell the teen on the fun aspects of the study, while making it clear that the teen’s voice will be heard by the brand. Teens typically love exercising a sense of control and responsibility by influencing a product they care about.
Optimizing Parent Involvement : We have to walk a fine line between keeping parents involved while still keeping teens in control of their voice. While we welcome parents being present for individual research activities, we also have to ensure that the parents aren’t controlling the narrative. We have to make it clear that the purpose of the study is to hear the teens’ voice, not the parents’.

Managing Engagement: For teens, it’s important to reward and gamify their participation so they will complete all the necessary activities, be truthful, and add value through their feedback and ideas. We often rely on bonuses for finishing on time, separating tasks into mini-challenges with individual rewards, and ongoing communication to maintain the relationship and ensure continued involvement. Question prompts must be thought provoking and help teens explore their experiences, opinions and feedback. We have found success with activities like:

  • Argue both sides of an issue
  • Take us on a tour
  • Fill-in the-blanks
  • True or false 
  • Create your own version

Investing in teen market research is worth the effort. Teens are naturals at expressing their opinions and co-creating messaging. You can tell these teens grew up watching Shark Tank and seeing content creators build brands. Teens are willing to jump in and co-create messages, products and experiences that work for them and their peers.

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