By Age Chart from Label Networks’ North American Youth Culture Fall Study 2009

We are often asked, usually by larger brands, just how effective is grassroots marketing, or viral marketing (.a.k.a. WOM) when it comes to reaching youth culture demographics? Of course as our data reflects, grassroots is the way to go especially when it comes to reaching savvy youth who can smell anything that lacks of insincerity a mile away.

To help quantify this point, in our North American Youth Culture Fall Study 2009, released last week, in the Advertising section we asked the question among 13-25-year-olds. “How often do you recommend new products/brands that you really like to someone else?”

Overall, 53.6% of 13-25-year-olds said that if they really like a brand, they will recommend a product or brand to someone else, which illustrates the importance of word-of-mouth and viral marketing when it comes to youth culture. This is followed by 39% that say Sometimes, then things drop significantly to only 4.4% saying Neutral, and 2.8% saying Not very likely.

By gender, what’s interesting is that WOM tends to be stronger, which is often thought of being the other way around. For example, males have slightly higher percentages that are more likely to recommend new products/brands if they really like it to someone else than females.

By age groups, the older the demographic, the higher the percentages that Always recommend something they really like to friends, peaking among 21-25-year-olds at 58.3%. What’s interesting about this is that many people thing that viral marketing works best with younger demographics, but obviously it is also influential among older within their 20’s also.

One of the best ways to get people talking about a product or campaign, as we illustrated even further in the Advertising section is to provide free samples, or products at events, in which case the majority of young people say that they actually bring such items home. Consistently in the last 3 years, free samples/stuff has ranked as the # 1 way that young people say they remember a brand and will recommend it to others.

This also elevates the importance of sponsorship and events vs. say, TV advertising or campaigns that don’t deliver a tangible product directly to the consumer. If you take a look at many of the top youth culture lifestyle brands, you can see that many know the effectiveness of viral marketing and sponsorship, and capitalize on the impact that comes with young people recommending a product or brand to others.

For more information about the North American Youth Culture Fall Study 2009, email; (323) 630-4000.