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In a recent conversation with my 10 year old son I asked him what he’d like to be when he grew up. I was fully expecting the usual array of answers from doctor, to fireman, I wouldn't even have been surprised by rock star or pro athlete but when he replied he wanted to be a YouTube star I had to pause a minute to take it in.

As a Brand Strategist and Creative Director at Ball Retail, where we work exclusively with Retail Brands, I fully understand the power of digital media to connect with younger audiences, or Generation Z. But I guess I hadn’t quite taken the leap when thinking about YouTube personalities as a career to aspire to as a child.

I found this very interesting as youth are not looking to be “found” so that they can become movie stars, they understand they can become relevant and have a voice just by creating and posting their own unique content online.


This is a very empowering thought for young minds.

Statistics tell us that the way youth find the most new content is through peer to peer endorsements. My son is constantly quoting his favourite YouTube channel “Smosh” as gospel. Today’s youth see YouTube content as relatable so when YouTubers endorse a brand or product it’s like their best friend just gave it a big thumbs up. YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki said that in a Variety survey 8 out of 10 top ranked media talents were YouTubers.

Retail Brand study of YouTube Influencer vs TV/Movie star Influencer

“YouTube now reaches more north Americans than any TV cable network,” reported Googles Chief business officer, Omid Kordestani in July 2016. “With most of this viewing being done on mobile devices.”

According to a recent study by Miner & Co. Studio, tablets and smartphones are replacing television as kids’ screen of choice. 57% of parents say their child prefers a device other than TV to watch video content, and nearly one in two parents say they punish their kids by taking away their smartphones and only allowing them to watch TV. Ouch, really just TV, “soooo boring” as my 8 year old daughter would say.Study of most used social app sharing sites among Canadian youth.

So for marketers and advertisers, we at Ball Retail see this digital trend as good news. It means a balancing of the playing field for small to medium size retail brands. No longer is there a need to have multi million dollar budgets to pay for TV media buys. Forward thinking retail brands can dedicate more advertising budget to creating strategic digital content that engages, informs and entertains.

However, this does mean making a true commitment to continuously generating original creative content if you want to stay relevant and connected with teens and pre-teens of today.

Because the other thing we know about youth consumption of digital content… it’s voracious. So be prepared to feed the beast.

Sources: Shaw RocketFund Study. Acumen Report 2016.

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