10/31/2013 11:26 am ET

Brace Yourself for the News: Teenagers Are Fickle Consumers

Shocking, isn't it?

Apparently this is surprising to marketers, who feel that teens, once they're converted to using a brand, will stick around for life. Which is why advertisers target the 18-34 segment, or consider it particularly desirable. Marketers and advertisers have their reasons, surely. Perhaps they believe that hipness is a result of youth and fickleness.

A recent report from the Piper Jaffray, written about in the New York Times and on The Huffington Post, shows that teens are abandoning Facebook in favor of Instagram because, as one teen said to the Times, "My mom doesn't have that."

Really, who cares?

If you're going to target teens, you're going to lose. Unless you want a market that's constant only in its inconstancy. If marketers consider teens to be trendsetters, fine -- but trends are short-lived. That's why they're called trends. Teens flocked to Justin Bieber, too. Or they used to, before they discovered another callow youth to idolize.

Social media evolves. New platforms come along all the time. And some things stay the same: kids don't want what their parents want or to be where their parents are, especially in terms of social media. This is nothing new. Teens are mortified by everything they're afraid of growing up to be: their parents, responsible adults, Facebook users.

If you're marketing to a certain audience, especially one that is defined only by a quite narrow age range, your product or service is going to have a limited shelf life. This doesn't mean marketers should ignore teens -- they just shouldn't bank on the teenage market as being more special or valuable than other than any other market. It just happens to be one that's much less reliable than the others.