Youth is a big business focus right now
Many brands are looking to capture the youth audience whose attention, let’s face it, is hard to maintain. There are significant advantages to cementing your brand as the brand of choice with this fickle and ever-changing group, especially when habits are being formed and brand relationships are starting to blossom.
My clients have been coming to me asking for research that is very youth specific. From running groups among youth to gauge appeal to a retailers’ new line of clothing, or talking to young tweens about their obsession with particular boy bands (who shall remain nameless right now but I know you know which direction I’m thinking), or exploring younger adults’ needs when it comes to banking and financial services, there is definitely a call for research among youth.
Considerations for youth research
Heavy users of mobile and social
Brands recognise that youth don’t use ‘traditional’ methods to communicate with one another, preferring mobile platforms and social media as a way to interract with friends, brands and the broader world around them. This is evidenced by the fact that over half of the 25 – 34 year old cohort live in ‘mobile only’ households (compared to 27% of all Australians).
Short form communication
Even the language is changing with acronyms for just about everything, to accommodate the short, sharp, text based comments that might accompany this imagery. 140 characters doesn’t leave a lot of room for flowery online conversation. So ABD, BBIM and MBF are just some of the new acronyms that pepper conversations among youth.
And so research has to do the same… We need to engage youth in a way that is natural for them so that we can capture the insights we need in a way that is relevant and meaningful for both participant and the business. Online research tools (like online communities), mobile-enabled platforms, loads of imagery to ‘show’ not ‘tell’, short sharp questions and conversations – these are all part and parcel of how we approach engaging youth in research.
Does the ‘what’ differ from the ‘how’ among youth?
The techniques described above are about how to engage with youth to maximise the outputs you get from this cohort. But what does it yield in terms of differences between youth and the broader community in terms of the topic at hand – their attitudes, behaviours and preferences? Again, my “go-to” hypothesis is to say that youth are very different from their older counterparts. They live their life differently, their goals and mindsets are of course different and so as marketers, we need to treat them differently in the products and services we offer.
But here’s what surprised me about youth…
As part of a recent study that we did among youth into banking and financial services, we ran an overnight survey among 21,000+ Australians, asking them about their attitudes towards saving and spending their money – whether they were more at the “careful” end of the spectrum (watching their pennies) or more “carefree” (quickly spending what they earn). Here’s what they told us…..
I must admit that I was really surprised by this result. I hypothesised that youth would be very different to their older counterparts, that they would be far more carefree with their money and not think too much about it at all. In fact, they are just like the rest of us, some are indeed “carefree” and really live for the moment, whilst others have some serious goals that they are saving for and tend to be a bit more careful with what they save and spend. However, for the most part, whether you are young or old, most will sit nicely in the middle, trying to juggle the best of both worlds.
So what have we learned?
When it comes to youth, it’s not necessarily what you do but the way that you do it, that matters. Youth are definitely different when it comes to how we engage them in research. But don’t be surprised if what they’re telling you, reflects all the rest of us in the population. Maybe they’re not so different after all!