The World: Insider's View - Netherlands

Amsterdam is a focal point of creativity in Europe and is the perfect springboard for marketing to young people across Europe, Sander Voltan says.

The new generation of youth growing up here in the Netherlands and the rest of Europe have a very different perspective and definition of what it means to be European than their parents did.

This age group is benefiting from the result of years of stability and progress in a united and growing Europe. They are first to grow up in a digital world, they are used to creating their own media via YouTube, Netvibes, Twitter and other digital tools. They wear Danish clothes, eat Spanish food, and download their favourite TV shows (without ads) and movies. And their beliefs often differ from their parents' more local views of the world.

Marketers are slowly coming to grips with the fact this audience has been increasingly fragmented by new media and as a result have perfected the art of blocking unwanted content and are savvy in identifying marketers trying to reach them.

So, how are marketers supposed to grab their attention? There's no easy solution, I'm afraid. The old debate between local, regional and global suddenly has new relevance.

We need to consider what content and message will resonate and make our brand relevant to them and make them want to buy it. To really understand these consumers, we need to change our approach. We need to deliver the overall brand messages across Europe and simultaneously support the brand with local below-the-line campaigns.

At our agency, 90 per cent of our clients are international and business is conducted primarily in English. Initially, we hired native English speakers out of necessity to serve our clients' needs. This process then began to take on a life of its own, and we now have more than 14 nationalities under one roof.

Amsterdam has historically been a liberal attraction point for creative minds from all fields, and our pragmatic approach to culture, religion, and status endures. The Dutch often watch the world news instead of the local news. The fact is, we live in a country with an international outlook, where foreign visitors and ex-patriates quickly feel at home.

Amsterdam's residents have foreign or dual nationality, and more than 75 per cent of the Dutch are conversant in English. Also, our country's size combined with our roots in trading have made us the ultimate chameleons: it's in our culture to be adaptable. Combine this with the proximity to the rest of Europe and a workforce that is flexible and highly educated, and you have an ideal location for creativity.

And just as I've witnessed in our company, the Amsterdam environment proves to be what's needed to market to this new group of youngsters in Europe, and the plethora of international agencies setting up offices or European hubs here is proof of that. I guess the secret's finally out.

- Sander Voltan is the Netherlands-based managing director of Euro RSCG 4D.


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