Digital Lifestyles Targets Teens

BOSTON Seeking to capitalize on the $175 billion that teenagers spent last year, Digital Lifestyles Group next month will introduce hip-e, a line of digital products targeted solely at teens. Last week Alloy’s AMP, a Boston-based shop, was tapped to introduce the new line through a promotional and marketing effort launching in August. The business was won without a review.

“It was very important for us to work with a company that we didn’t have to educate on the teen market,” said Annie Bacon, vice president of marketing at DLG in Austin, Texas. “Alloy and AMP in our opinion have an unparalleled understanding of the teen marketplace.”

These days teenagers (33 million of them in 2003, according to the U.S. Census Bureau) and technology are a powerful mix. According to a 2003 study from the Consumer Electronics Association, 84 percent of teens ages 13-17 strongly agree that new technology gives them access to information that improves their life, 75 percent enjoy the challenge of figuring out high-tech gadgets and 55 percent says electronic gadgets allow them to make a statement about who they are.

AMP’s upcoming campaign, which will target 12-19 year-olds, will include experiential elements, such as mobile tours and will invade schools, malls and universities, wherever young people are found. Online and print are also in the mix, said Bacon, who would not rule out TV ads. Spending on the campaign was not disclosed. Alloy’s 360 Youth, a youth media and marketing agency, will handle media chores.

“If [Teens] are going to go out and buy your technology product, it has to do more than just tout technology, it has to provide a clear and relevant benefit to their lifestyle,” said Alisha Kolski, vp of research at AMP, which helped the client conduct hundreds of interviews with teens to find out exactly what they wanted in a digital device.

The hip-e line will include products that teenagers are already accustomed to using such as cell phones and PDA’s and give them an “all-in-one” twist, according to Bacon, who declined to give additonal product details advance of the line’s release.

A twist, some experts say, is exactly what will be needed in order to appeal to teens.

“A lot of folks assume that this a gadget driven group, but at the end of the day they aren’t,” said Michael Wood, vice president of Teenage Research Unlimited in Northbrook, Illinois. “Teenagers are interested in those products that fill a real need, they don’t want products that have been dumbed down, they want what adults have unless it does something really different.”

Teenagers are hot for digital products, says Sigalle Feig, director of new business at Look-Look in L.A, but she says a product hook is still needed. “To develop a brand for teens, whether it’s deodorant or an Mp3 player, doesn’t make sense in itself. If you’re offering something that’s a different quality or price, then you have legs.”

In 2003 Digital Lifestyles Group had sales of $77 million, an 18 percent increase over 2002.