BY: Richard Coad [MDB CCO]
What motivates today’s youth? Is it wealth and power? Or, perhaps fame? Well, according to a recent study*, none of the above will qualify as the answer. A global marketing communications company performed a study on 7000 of the world’s young to decipher their motivations, and specifically, how these motivations connect today’s youth to the brands they associate with. The following results may surprise you. Participants of the study range from ages 16 to 30 and hail from the US, UK, China, India, Spain, Mexico, Brazil, Singapore, Malaysia, Chile, South Africa, Italy, Germany, Korea, Japan, Australia and the Philippines. Through rating a series of value statements, the researchers determined that commune, justice and authenticity are the top three motivations youths use to self-identify. Those categorized by commune thrive off relationships. Young people driven by authenticity have a need to see things as they truly are. Youth motivated by justice say they must do what’s right for themselves and society by fighting injustices. The published report divides the rest of their findings into the following sections: technology as a fifth sense, the social economy, truth hunters and justice re-imagined. If taken to heart, these results may call for an industry shift in the way today’s youth are targeted as consumers.
Technology as a Fifth Sense
Of those surveyed, 53% between the ages of 16 and 22, and 48% of 23 to 30-year olds, say they would rather lose their sense of smell than an item of technology, thus making technology a contender for the fifth sense. The ubiquity of the trending forms of technology has created unprecedented ways for people to connect not only with each other, but with their brands of choice. In an age where smart phones, mp3 players, televisions, tablets and gaming consoles are, in most cases, internet accessible; it may be necessary to further customize your internet advertising strategy. The same ad will look differently on a laptop, a cell phone (especially one without a full internet browser), and television. Since the level of consumer involvement depends on the medium, it may be advantageous to treat each entity as a unique advertising opportunity. This ideally exposes young consumers to more of the brand, but in seemingly custom-made fits.
The Social Economy
In today’s world, the younger generation seeks more and more to define themselves not only by what they own, or what they do, but primarily by their ability to connect, share and broadcast to the world. The relative simplicity of technology in its many forms has allowed for the world to become better connected. As a result, technology provides those actively involved with social media and the like, the opportunity to create a friendlier, better-connected community. Social media sites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and FourSquare have helped immensely in creating this “friend” culture. For young consumers to truly connect with brands, advertising agencies must fundamentally comprehend the allure behind this generation’s need for social interactions fueled by technological advances.
The Truth Hunters
To most, regardless of age, but especially with this generation, nothing is worse than a fake friend. So it only makes sense that the young abhor disingenuous brands. Young consumers want the same authenticity in their brands that they strive for in their friendships. For the youth of this study, finding a truthful brand is just as important as finding a truthful friend.
Social justice, the need to do what’s right for society, and personal justice, the need to do what’s right for oneself, ranked as a top motivation for young people today. Thanks to the help of social networking sites, the otherwise unaware person is informed of injustices committed to those around the world in a matter of seconds. This has sparked a desire in the young to create change and associate with brands that share this same perspective. When asked to name their favorite technology brands, Microsoft, Google, Apple and Facebook received the top spots. The young participants said these brands best embody their motivations of commune, justice and authenticity. The socially conscious youths consider technology brands as the future in solving many of the world’s problems.
So, Why Does This All Matter?
The technological advancements of this era have captured us all, but we are now living in an age of information overload. Multitasking between the different platforms for media viewing has this young generation’s attention split. By connecting to the very core of the youth of this world, through the aforementioned factors they deemed important, advertisers can create brands that will leave an indelible mark on this generation. If the results of this study are correct, the advertising icons of this generation will be more than an advertisement, more than an icon. The brand itself will be closely regarded as a friend.