Youth State, Report 1: Identity

Youth State Report 1: Identity

Executive Summary

Date Published
12 October 2015

Download PDF

Welcome to Youth State.

At Adjust Your Set we recognise the challenge marketers face in trying to connect authentically with the complicated youth market and navigate a world that changes faster than you can send a Snapchat. This report delves deep inside the heads of 16-24 year olds in the UK to find out what they're really thinking.

Using a rigorous blended methodology of quantitative and qualitative research bolstered by expert contributions, Youth State sets out to help brands to engage and communicate with young consumers in a meaningful and valuable way.

In this report, the first in the series, we have uncovered valuable insights for marketers.

For instance, today's youth are most empowered by the things in life that are closest to them and therefore within their immediate control. Personal relationships are particularly empowering; when asked who they most admire, it was family members who dominated the responses with ‘Mum' taking the top spot.

In fact their everyday heroes were far more commonly cited than celebrities, showing that there is little patience for vacuous famous faces. Only those who make positive contributions to society, such as Emma Watson in her role as UN Women Goodwill ambassador, made the cut.

But this grounded and rational outlook is not being widely recognised by the rest of the world. Our respondents are frustrated by the way in which they see their generation being represented. They rate the accuracy of their portrayal as a mere 4.4 out of 10, seeing themselves presented as disruptive, materialistic, vain and tech obsessed.

Moreover, they feel very strongly about the impossible standards of beauty and lifestyle aspirations foisted upon them by media and marketing. The messages that they encounter from brands and publications simply do not reflect the things they really care about.

What they truly value are traits associated with strong character. Authenticity is highly important to them: for 35%, what they most admire in others is not being afraid to be oneself.

Happiness too is hugely important to this cohort. For over half of our sample happiness was their number one value in life. For a generation who have had to move their focus away from pursuing material wealth, enriching experiences that make them happy are the priority.

Overall the results of this research paint a picture of a considered and conscientious generation. Reckless hedonism and rebellion are no longer a part of their agenda. Instead they care deeply about the people and things that will help them to build a secure and happy future.

So it is vital that brands acknowledge this mature mentality and treat young people with the respect that they deserve.

This could involve reducing the pressure to lead the perfect aspirational lifestyle, or perhaps it's about creating enriching, joyful experiences. Whatever your approach, communicating and engaging with this age group ultimately comes down to demonstrating authenticity, transparency and humanity.

These findings and recommendations are discussed in greater detail throughout the report. By listening to what young people themselves have to say, we have sought to enable you to truly understand this audience, and we hope that this report will guide you in how best to position your brand as something they can really care about.