Youth and Brands: What’s the Relationship?

October 7, 2014

HavasWorldwide-Consumer-Relationship-with-Brands-Oct2014Recent research has touched on the top-rated brand attributes among Millennials and how loyal these youth are to brands. A recent study from Havas Worldwide also takes a look at how youth aged 16-34 from 29 countries around the world view brands – and what insights marketers can draw from their perspectives. The results suggest that youth are more connected to brands than their elders, but that many feel they’re not being taken seriously enough.

According to the report, 45% of 16-34-year-olds agree that “brands play an essential role in my life,” a sentiment shared by fewer in the 35-54 (35%) and 55+ (25%) age brackets. But, 41% feel that brands don’t take young people seriously enough, while only about half as many of those aged 55 and older agree. (Youth can join older Americans in complaints about their portrayal in advertising, as 6 in 10 American adults over the age of 70 agree that members of their generation, when featured in advertising, are portrayed as stereotypes.)

Interestingly, youth are well aware of their own influence, as 45% believe that they have the power to help a brand succeed or fail. (Just 29% of those in the 55+ bracket agree).

The study’s authors posit that marketers should find new ways to relate to youth, arguing that approaching them on the basis of generational gaps (such as by emphasizing their rebellious nature) won’t work. That’s because those generational gaps are no longer clear, and what were once considered youth values (such as freedom, creativity and individuality) have now crossed into the mainstream. As a result, brands need to talk to youth on the basis of “engagement” and “utility” rather than “values.” In particular, to better understand youths’ lifestyles and communication channels, brands need to pay attention to the social sphere, pop culture, and digital identities.

Brands already have a foot in the door in the social aspect, per the study, as 6 in 10 youth believe that brands are an important part of the creative content online, and 63% say they encourage their friends to use the brands they really like. As far as pop culture goes, 48% of 16-34-year-olds report feeling more connected to brands that are involved in pop culture.

Finally, as pertains to technology, the study notes that “the most vital brands” will find ways to interact “through technology in helpful and imaginative ways.”

About the Data: The data is based on an online survey of 10,574 people aged 16+ in 29 markets: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Vietnam. The study was created by Havas Worldwide and fielded by Market Probe International in 2014.

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