Majority of US Youth Prefer to Stand Out Rather Than Blend In

August 2, 2012

ipsos-us-blend-in-v-stand-out-august-2012.png58% of US adults aged under 35 would rather stand out from than blend into the crowd, reveals new data from Ipsos. This is exactly opposite to the overall US average: despite the US ideal of rugged individualism, 58% would prefer to blend in rather than stand out, only slightly lower than the 61% global average. Preference for blending in rises to 64% among Americans aged 35-49 and 71% among those aged 50-64. The terms “blend in” and “stand out” are vague, but Ipsos describes some instances of standing out as: being able to voice controversial opinions; bucking fashion trends; creating new product or art; singing loudly in a quiet library; or dyeing one’s hair an odd color.

On a global basis, much as in the US, younger people are most inclined to express their individualism, with 45% of those under age 35 worldwide preferring to stand out. The desire to stand out mellows with age, with less than 2 in 5 adults aged 35 to 49 (37%) and 50 to 64 (30%) preferring to stand out.

Italy has the most individualistic youth, with 77% preferring to express their individualism. Interestingly, youth in post-soviet Russia (65%) and post-apartheid South Africa (64%) both also show a strong preference for standing out, as do youth in Saudi Arabia (65%). Notably, a high proportion (61%) of Millennials (aged 15-25) in Russia also believe they’re “cool,” according to an InSites Consulting survey released in June 2012. Only 43% of Millennials in the US share that view of themselves.

Meanwhile, according to the Ipsos survey, Brazilian (17%) and Indonesian youth (10%) show the least desire to stand out. The numbers in Japan are the most even among age groups, with 20% of the under 35 group, 18% of the 35-49 group and 19% of the 50-64 set opting to stand out.

Income, Marital Status, Education All Factors in the US

In the US, 61% of adults with a high household income prefer to blend in, compared to 54% of those with a low household income (HHI). Of note, on a global basis, those figures are reversed, with low (62%) and medium (65%) HHI adults more likely than high HHI adults (56%) to prefer to blend in.

Also in the US, just 35% of married adults prefer to stand out, compared to half of non-married adults. There is a clear trend along education lines, too: those with a high degree of education (51%) are more likely than those with medium (44%) and low (35%) levels of education to prefer to stand out. Also, business owners are 25% more likely than those who are not business owners to prefer displaying their individuality (50% vs. 40%), and that preference extends to senior executives, decision makers, and leaders, when compared to those who do not have that job status (55% vs. 39%).

National, Regional Differences Abound

Overall, across the 25 countries surveyed, 39% of adults overall prefer to stand out. The world’s strongest individualists are Italians (72%), followed by Saudi Arabians (62%), Russians (59%), Indians (54%), Poles (50%), Hungarians, and Germans (both at 48%). Despite popular perceptions of the Chinese, 45% of Chinese adults prefer to stand out rather than blend in.

The least individualistic people are the Indonesians: 93% prefer to fly under the radar. Next are the Brazilians (84% preferring to blend in), followed by the Japanese (81% preferring to blend in).

Regionally, the strongest individualists are in the Middle East and Africa, at 55% of respondents, followed by the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), at 44%. Europe (43%) and the G-8 countries (41%) skew slightly above the global average, while Latin Americans (23%) skew below.

Each region has its strong individualists and blenders. The UK (34%) and France (24%) offset the high average for those preferring to stand out in Europe, while Canadians (33%) pull down the average for North America.

About the Data: The Ipsos data is based on a survey of 12,500 consumers in 25 countries.

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