A new youth-focused study has discovered some fascinating facts about global youth, and how they see the world. Two predominant trends are ‘youth expressionistas’ and the ‘paparazzi generation’, both of which show how easily younger people are absorbed into an online world.
The study was done by Starcom MediaVest Group’s (SMG) Human Experience Centre (HEC) in response to the ‘breakneck speed’ at which the modern consumer landscape changes.
“The hyper, modern marketplace means it’s no longer enough to rely on industry tools such as TGI and AMPS. It’s becoming more and more important to delve into primary research that offers real-time insight into the world of our consumers, giving us an opportunity to sense and respond to the way they’re feeling, behaving and sharing, allowing us to offer them brand experiences that are both valuable and meaningful,” says head of human experience at SMG & Zenith Optimedia, Eve Pennington.
Working with the group’s global Human Experience Strategy network and its clients, the study enables South African youth brands to meaningfully sense and respond to their audience’s needs, by providing real-time points of view on youth behaviour on a global scale.
“Our Human Experience Centres of Learning are all about simple, meaningful, real-time data to contend with the fact that marketers and advertisers are struggling with the deluge of data they face on a daily basis,” she says. “Our network has therefore put resources behind these centres that consist of dedicated global teams who sift through data for global points of view. The really exciting part is that we can tap into this real-time data and expose our clients to it on an ongoing basis.”
Based on this approach, various aspects of youth culture have come out of the latest research including the phenomenon of ‘youth expressionistas’. They express themselves through video from shallow interactions where they merely view and comment on posts, all the way to actually producing and editing their own content, be it video spoofs or their own original content.
Rather than just creating content for consumption, brands have an opportunity to involve ‘expressionistas’ by fuelling reaction and interaction with content and driving sharing, inspiring further creation and helping them to manage this content abundance by playing the role of a cultural curator.
Another trend is the ‘paparazzi generation’. This is a set of individuals who live in a world where everything is recorded every minute of the day and then loaded real-time on to various social media platforms. They’re always on show and therefore feel pressure to always look their best.
This insight gives brands a great opportunity because while brands are welcome into this world, they are not as present as they could be and plenty of roles exist for them to enable consumer behaviour.
Pennington says one of the most valuable aspects of the project is just how scalable the results are given that the HEC projects utilise the insights of 500 digital consumers, across five different countries, that represent a mix of emerged and emerging markets. It’s therefore able to take both dynamics into account.
In addition, the Youth HEC utilises interesting data gathering mechanisms such as socialising and listening in that it monitors youth conversations and digital interactions around key categories and topics and the HEC Youth Lens utilises video ethnography that illustrates key youth behaviour in a video format.
“The ambition of our next generation role as a human experience company is to consistently design and deliver dynamic brand experiences that unite our client’s and their customers, powered by human understanding,” says Pennington.
Looking at the longer-term picture, Pennington says the human experiences initiative forms part of the ongoing evolution by the Starcom MediaVest Group (SMG) from its heritage as a media services company to becoming a human experience company.