Young adults are growing up as part of maker culture – a movement that celebrates self-reliance and hands-on solutions. In contrast to the ‘rebel without a cause’ status that defined youth in previous decades, today’s young people are hackers rather than revolutionaries, more interested in driving incremental change than in rejecting authority.
This was highlighted in a study conducted by Havas Worldwide to understand consumer behaviour. A total of 10,574 teens and young adults from around the globe were surveyed for the study, including Singapore.
The study highlighted that today’s youth are significantly more apt than their elders to recognise – and value – the role brands play in their lives. However, not all brand communicators have cracked the youth-marketing code, considering that slightly more than a third of the respondents aged 16-34 complain that brands do not take young people seriously enough.
Gen Z and millennials are big on brands
Brands are no longer just names on the products consumers buy. They have become tools that help establish young people’s sense of identity and social connections. About six in 10 respondents aged 16-34 encourage their friends to use certain brands, and almost as many said it makes them feel good to see the brands they own being used by people they admire. Brands need to engage with their users by offering shareable content and experiences worth talking about.
Goodbye, rebels; hello, makers!
Youth values have evolved to become shared values. Older people are now likely to embrace what was once considered youthful pursuits and attitudes. Now that youth values are virtually identical to those of the older generation, brands need to focus not on a distinct set of values but on young people’s need for constant engagement and new experiences.
Digital strategic arsenals help adolescents navigate the new social spheres
Young people have become adept at creating individualised sets of digital tools that will allow them to develop or improve their social connections. For example, applications such as Snapchat help to create a sense of closeness with a member of their social circle while Instagram aids in creating an idealised version of their personal lives. The arsenal starts to change as soon as new tools emerge.
Brand passion is increasingly digitally based
Loyalty no longer goes to brands that are deemed ‘cool’. Instead, young people are more passionate about brands that offer fresh experiences and conversational currency. They want things such as improved services or new technologies that would allow their lives to be simpler and less expensive. Digital users are also more likely to align themselves with new-economy brands, choosing Airbnb over Hilton and Uber over Yellow Cab. Smart brands are connecting with teens and young adults in the three areas most critical to their sense of identity: the social sphere, pop culture and new technologies. 53 per cent of respondents aged 16-25 stated that they felt more connected to brands that are involved in pop culture.
“The study unearthed interesting factors that are at play when it comes to reaching out and communicating to a new generation of young adults. It is important for brands to remember that at the end of the day, this is a generation that values experiences over things. So there are some pretty amazing connection opportunities with young audiences, for the brands that understand this best,” said Dan Gibson, Group Managing Director of Havas Worldwide Singapore.
“Brands rely on youth not just for what’s in their wallets, but for what’s in their heads and hearts – their creative input, their enthusiastic evangelism, their energy,” said Andrew Benett, Global CEO of Havas Worldwide and Havas Creative Group.
“And young people, in turn, want to be able to rely on brands to make their lives better and to help them stand out from the crowd. It’s a relationship built on mutual interests and trust – and it’s up to brands not to break that bond by being disingenuous or failing to keep their promises,” he added.