Understanding teens

What are teens feeling and how can you deal? Chicago-based Energy BBDO's GenWorld study polled 3,322 youth from 13 countries (excluding Canada). Below is an outline of the main attitude, lifestyle and value shifts that emerged from the research, plus the main points you should take from them.

What are teens feeling and how can you deal? Chicago-based Energy BBDO’s GenWorld study polled 3,322 youth from 13 countries (excluding Canada). Below is an outline of the main attitude, lifestyle and value shifts that emerged from the research, plus the main points you should take from them.

1. Zeitgeist: From optimism to determination in a dark world

Facts: Unlike their happy-go-lucky predecessors, just 14% of global teens today say ‘I think the world is becoming a better place.’

Implication: Start by fueling optimism. Today’s teen appreciates being entertained, empowered and engaged.

2. Success: Entitlement to self-activism

Facts: Being financially secure is a concern for 70% of teens globally. However, 78% disagree that money is more important than personal fulfilment in seeking a job. Instead, they crave balance and enjoyment in life.

Implications: Teens need to be approached with sophistication and sensitivity, not hype.

3. The vanguard of cool: From U.S.A. Teens to Creatives

Facts: In the ’90s, kids looked to their American peers for trends. Today’s influencers are identified not by their country of origin, but rather their personal values. The new leading-edge group (about 30% of the teen population globally) are the Creatives – they are curious about the world, altruistic and receptive to new and innovative ideas. Only 9% of them value looking good, only 37% say they ‘like wearing brand logos’ and the majority (64%) believe there is ‘too much advertising and marketing in the world.’

Implications: Forget appealing to status. Instead, appeal to their desire for authenticity.

4. Wired teens: From elite to a mass market

Facts: The SuperConnectors – a group of tech-savvy, social-networking teens – has emerged.

Implications: To develop a relationship with teens, connect them with each other.

5. Global brand leaders: From American to world brands

Facts: While American brands like McDonald’s and Disney are still tops in brand awareness, their preference ratings have fallen. For instance, McD’s is the second-highest recognized brand among teens, yet 32nd in preference, while Disney ranks ninth in awareness, and 23rd in preference.

Implications: Whispering, rather than shouting, louder than the competition is a better way to gain kids’ respect.

6. Brands: From symbols of status to drivers of apathy

Facts: Less than half of teens polled want to wear brand logos, and less than a third feel a person can be defined by the brands they use. In fact, 62% of teens are considered ‘apathetic’ towards brands.

Implications: Be a brand that matters: have a cause, a mission, a difference-making purpose. LD