Tempting the Young: New Efforts to Get Younger Consumers Hooked on Guns, Luxe Cars, Soda and More

Youths are also sought after as customers because consumption habits are often ingrained at a young age—and because they will be money-spending consumers for many, many years to come.

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Marketers are always trying to woo younger consumers. They may not have as much money as older folks, but they bring a sense of hipness and desirability to anything they buy. Youths are also sought after as customers because consumption habits are often ingrained at a young age — and because they will be money-spending consumers for many, many years to come.

Here are five noteworthy efforts by old-fashioned products and brands to reach out to younger demographics:

Guns
Nearly half of Americans say they have a gun in their home or otherwise in their possession, and gun sales have periodically soared in recent years, often as a reaction to the latest mass shooting or because of fears that new gun-control regulations will restrict access to firearms. And yet, despite the rush of sales in the marketplace, “the firearms industry has poured millions of dollars into a broad campaign to ensure its future by getting guns into the hands of more, and younger, children,” according to the New York Times. Apparently, the industry is concerned about declining participation in shooting sports and feels compelled to spend millions of dollars to get kids into guns and hopefully turn them into lifelong firearm enthusiasts.

Luxury Cars
Mercedes is in the news thanks to its just-launched CLA class of vehicles starting at $30,000, as well as a much-hyped Super Bowl commercial for the new cars starring swimsuit model Kate Upton. Both the cheaper price point and the sexy ad are expected to appeal especially to younger consumers who might have otherwise considered a Benz out of reach. (Sorry guys, Kate Upton is still out of reach.)

(MORE: Will Millennials Change How Cars Are Bought and Sold?)

It’s not just Mercedes pushing the idea that luxury cars aren’t just for grandpas; Audi and BMW have new cars and marketing campaigns catering to younger drivers, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Mass-Market Beer
Sales of Budweiser have been slumping for decades, particularly among younger drinkers who are more likely to pick a trendy liquor or flavorful microbrew over the beer their grizzled uncle drinks mainly because it’s always been the beer he drinks. To woo consumers who might otherwise opt for a microbrew, big beer companies such as Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors have been copying the craft-beer playbook and introducing darker, tastier ales and lagers like Blue Moon and Shock Top, which keep their mass-produced roots mostly hidden. Meanwhile, Budweiser is trying to broaden its brand image with the new Budweiser Black Crown beer, which is being portrayed as a richer, more sophisticated and youth-oriented tweak on its original pale lager.

Milk
Over the years, the popularity of juices, sports drinks and bottled water has risen, and more Americans have been eating breakfast on the go or in the office — and not over a bowl of cereal in their own homes. The result is a decades-long decline in milk consumption in the U.S. Children have traditionally been the demographic that consumes the most milk. Yet a recent report from the National Dairy Council shows that fewer kids are drinking milk, and that those who do are drinking less of it.

(MORE: Trouble Brewing? The Craft Beer vs. ‘Crafty Beer’ Catfight)

There’s been an especially sharp decline in older kids who drink milk: in the late 1970s, roughly 80% of Americans ages 13 to 17 drank milk, compared with a little over 60% in the late 2000s. A similar decline occurred among 6- to 12-year-olds. Naturally, in the same report the Dairy Council makes the case that kids should be drinking more milk, highlighting the fact that it is a terrific source of Vitamin D and calcium and a much healthier choice than soda.

Soda
The Dairy Council, while taking a few swipes at soda, acknowledges in its report that the percentage of children drinking soft drinks has fallen in recent years, after rising fairly steadily from the late 1970s through the early 2000s. The Wall Street Journal recently noted that amid an overall decline in soft-drink consumption for all consumers, the fact that young people are turning away from soda has especially big impact on the industry:

Sugary bubbles have become a lightning rod in the U.S. for consumer-health concerns, such as diabetes and obesity. Meanwhile, baby boomers are aging, and soda’s traditional target market — youth — is often turning to water, energy drinks and coffee instead.

(MORE: Got Milk? Increasingly, the Answer Is No)

Of course, soft-drink makers hate being tied to obesity, and they aren’t simply accepting the fact that people will just drink less and less soda as time goes by. The new antiobesity ad from Coca-Cola is one example of how Big Soda is fighting back to win the hearts, minds and dollars of consumers — younger ones with lifetimes ahead of them as potentially loyal customers especially.

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