Using such an approach, marketing is increasingly targeted not at demographic groups but at individuals. Micro-targeting and personalized messages can be based on detailed profiles, online and offline behaviors, and psychographic3 characteristics. People can be retargeted in microseconds depending on where they may be or what they are doing. Montgomery argued that this growing infrastructure needs to be understood to gauge the effects of marketing on behavior.
The Emergence of Mobile Devices
Use of mobile devices is soaring among children as well as teens. Children and teens are using their mobile phones to interact with social media and with each other. Montgomery noted that African American and Hispanic teens show particularly high use of and engagement with mobile phones relative to other teens. (See the discussion of marketing targeting low-income and minority communities later in this chapter.) The fact that these devices are available at any time of day or night allows mobile marketing to access users through such techniques as geolocation4 and geofencing.5 Through mobile devices, marketers are able to link the point where teens are influenced with the point of purchase. And the increasing use of “mobile wallets” allows a mobile device to be used for purchasing products in stores and restaurants.
Today, marketing is fully integrated into teens’ personal and social lives. Each marketing experience can be individualized, and the loop between marketing, persuasion, and purchase is being closed.
Research and Policy Implications
Many questions need to be answered to understand marketing targeted at teens. Adolescent behavior, social relationships, individualized marketing and targeting processes, and brand identification all influence adolescent behavior. Montgomery believes research on brain development needs to look at the development of emotional regulation and decision making, risk taking, and impulsivity. Food-related behaviors need to be understood as forms of risk taking, along with sexual, driving, and alcohol and
3Psychographic characteristics include variables or trends of personality, values, attitudes, fears, interests, and lifestyles.
4Geolocation is the identification of the real-world geographic location of an object (such as a restaurant).
5A geofence uses the Global Positioning System to define geographic boundaries.