Two Donegal students are planning to reveal how teenagers spend their time and money in a bid to help businesses and young people across Donegal.
Loreto Convent Transition Year students Joanna McMonagle and Claire Mc Gettigan have launched Reveal The Teen, a business research initiative to uncover the trends of young people today.
Trending brands, topics and activities are ever-changing, but the girls have a unique perspective and social media know-how to help businesses keep up with the curve, and indeed to keep up with the Kardashian-era.
Claire and Joanna also have the expert guidance of their mentor Evelyn McGlynn, a marketing consultant who has been motivating them and helping them gain business experience since the beginning of the year.
Claire and Joanna are preparing to conduct a survey with Donegal teenagers to find out what they buy, where they socialise, where they eat out and how they interact with businesses online.
They are trying to make Donegal a better place for teenagers and are calling on young people and local businesses to join the project and help ‘reveal the teen’.
Claire (15) has always had a drive for business. From a young age she has been setting up small enterprises from her home, including a car wash from her home along the Atlantic Drive.
Joanna (16) is eager to explore business more through this work experience. “I didn’t have a very keen interest in business but this has really opened my eyes since I’ve been involved in it,” she said.
Milk Bottle of Life
Joanna and Claire understand that many teenagers rely on their parents for money, and how this affects their spending and their habits is something businesses should note. They use the ‘milk bottle of life’ metaphor to describe how teenagers use their parent’s funds.
“Our parents take from and supply money for the milk bottle of life. If us teenagers buy a something such as a phone, that money also comes from the milk bottle, so there is not enough money left for other things and families will have to make cutbacks,” Claire explains.
Family income and outcome change the level of contents in this ‘milk bottle’, so teenagers spending money or, in some cases, wasting money, can upset funds.
Shop Online vs Shop Local
Joanna and Claire plan to analyse online shopping, which is particularly popular with teens, in order to see how local businesses can provide an attractive alternative or to improve their online services.
“We want to show local businesses how they can be more in tune with the teen market,” Joanna said.
“We want to do this not just for local businesses to make profit but to give teens a better voice and selection,” Claire said.
The students want to address the lack of diversity of brands they see in local stores, so perhaps teens won’t always have to go online or travel to cities to get the products they want.
The girls’ enterprising goals have gained the support of Toni Forrester, Chief Executive of the Letterkenny Chamber. Ms Forrester has sponsored two Shop LK vouchers for a raffle to encourage young people to take the survey.
Claire and Joanna plan to release their results in a report form with the Letterkenny Chamber of Commerce, and they are opening the door to businesses to contact them to read and discuss their findings. They hope to leave a legacy from this project. An new opportunity may be highlighted for businesses if teenagers identify a specific need, activity or social event lacking in their areas.
One of the most interesting questions they will ask teenagers is – “What are three changes you would like to happen in Donegal?.”
A Collective Voice
The girls are hoping to give all young people a voice and are appealing for other Donegal schools to collaborate with them to have as many young people as possible taking the survey. They plan to work with St. Eunan’s College in Letterkenny to gain a male perspective for the report, while all other youth groups will be welcome to take the survey online.
The strength of social media influencers is altering the buying process for young people, who see products promoted by people online and often want to buy them instantly. This new, fast-paced customer journey is something that local businesses may want to learn about.
“We’re looking at how bloggers and vloggers have such an influence on young people on a national and international level,” said Joanna.
Evelyn also has a third-level student assisting with Reveal the Teen as part of a work placement. Shannon Thackrah is a third year Digital Marketing student at IT Sligo. She will be analysing the findings and presenting them with creative infographics and reports.
This term of work experience has opened the students’ eyes to a world of local enterprise that they have clearly become passionate about. “It’s been really interesting. Everyday after school we’ve been working on questions and typing up materials,” Claire said.
The girls are now looking to open the conversation between businesses and young people in order to Reveal the Teen and provide a new insight the powerful and exciting market of young buyers.
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