Death Of The Teenager

Crowd DNA’s Andy Crysell asks whether the teen experience is in decline and, if so, what it means for self-identity and brands. To get a copy of our Death Of A Teenager cultural forecasting report, read on…

Hot on the heels of the widely reported scientific claims that adolescence now extends from 10 to 24, we thought it opportune to publish a revamped version of our Death Of A Teenager cultural forecasting report.

What would it mean to have never been a teenager, as we knew being a teenager? As grown-ups continue to avoid, er, growing up, and younger generations start connecting with culture – and even hitting puberty – at an earlier age, the previously well-defined ‘teenage years’ don’t make so much sense. A collective experience of ‘being a teenager’ seems to be coming to an end.

In this report we map out the driving forces behind this change and ask how it will impact self-identity formation. Also, given that the marketing communications industry has a habit (near obsession) with all things youth, we look at the relevance that this will no doubt have for brands.

For a copy of our shiny new report please email: DOTT@crowdDNA.com

Millennials & Mobility

Crowd DNA’s head of insight and innovation, Dr Matilda Andersson, talked millennials and mobility at Jaguar Land Rover TechFest...

When I was first asked to speak at Jaguar Land Rover Tech Fest, I was pretty sure they’d got the wrong person. The truth is I don’t own a car: I can’t even drive. But when I realised the panel was going to discuss millennials and mobility I felt more confident I could contribute to the debate.

As we know, owning a car isn’t the traditional marker of the transition to adulthood that it once was. The same can be said for getting married and having kids. They’re all still happening, just later or in non-traditional ways. Even if cars still play a significant role in the life of today’s millennials, the difference lies in what car ownership means: the values assigned to it, the expectations surrounding it and how it elevates the life of its driver.

But have we reached the end of the road for car ownership? This was the pressing question we were asked to talk about. Beside me on stage were some pretty impressive millennials: online star Daniel Howell, YouTube vlogger Jim Chapman, broadcaster and writer Alice Levine, Neil Sharpe (director of mobility solutions at Bosch), Yihyun Lim (associate director MIT Design Lab) – and Sebastian Peck (managing director Jaguar Land Rover InMotion), who hosted the panel.

While preparing for the debate I summarised mobility into three major shifts which formed my point of view on the day:

SPACE FLEX

Millennials want flexible spaces where they can live, work and relax.

Many millennials live in smaller spaces with fewer rooms than their parents. Most live alone or with flatmates instead of their family. Others save money by living in multi-generational households. They travel more, work more and spend more time outside their homes than previous generations. As a result, millennials crave places to relax, socialise and provide privacy on the move.

As our living spaces continue to shrink and commutes get longer, the car can play its own role in creating a ‘home away from home’ for the millennial cohort.

SEAMLESS

Millennials want products and services that enhance their life experiences more fully by saving them time and reducing hassle through simple design. Technology plays a crucial role in facilitating the idea that every moment counts and that they can accomplish more in less time. Brands that enable drivers to move seamlessly from one space to the next without interruptions to their connected lifestyles are those that will succeed.

LUXURY EVOLVED

It’s not only the concept of time and space that millennials have redefined, but the idea of luxury and symbols of status. In the eyes of millennials, luxury is no longer just about expense or scarcity. A fatigue from too much luxury is driving consumers towards more casual brands and more conscientious purchases that nurture the health of themselves and the planet.

What if as the luxury market shifts, ownership of exclusive goods will increasingly compete against a demand for experiences and digital bragging rights? What if one ride in a luxury supercar posted on social media was preferable for aspirant millennials than owning vehicle themselves?

At the end of the debate, the audience at TechFest voted and – surprise, surprise – 77% of those in attendance didn’t think we’ve reached the end of the road for car ownership. I managed to get the final word: ‘Ownership might still be relevant but it’s going to change. Shared ownership is the future.’

Here’s a short film we made about these trends:

Agelessness Report

Nice things from Crowd DNA to download here!

We recently ran a London breakfast event exploring themes around agelessness, and what the implications are for brands and marketers. We’ve a PDF to share on the topic also, covering ground such as leveraging cross-generational interests, influencer strategy and age-agnostic design. Oh yes, and a playlist of related tracks, too.

Check out the PDF here

Agelessness

Rise: Agelessness

Crowd DNA’s brand and communications expert Eleanor Sankey tackled the delicate subject of agelessness at our latest Rise breakfast session in London...

At Crowd, we’re well known for our work researching Millennials and increasingly Gen Z, so it seems a little odd to debunk traditional demographics. But as an insights and innovation agency, we know that as the world changes, so do our beloved cohorts. And in fact, understanding consumers by age traits can be a little limiting at times.

Today over a quarter of the people on the planet are over 50. In the UK, the Office For National Statistics (ONS) has reported that there are now more over 60s than there are under 18s. From the Nike ad of 86-year-old Sister Madonna Buder taking part in IRONMAN, to her mum’s Fitbit obsession, Eleanor demonstrated that age appropriate behaviour is becoming a thing of the past. Moreover, Millennials aren’t achieving the traditional markers of adulthood by 30 and Gen Z are favouring coffee over booze. So, a rethink is in order.

But how do brands reach out to this ageless demographic? Eleanor reassured us that we’re not becoming one homogenous lump. Increasingly, we’re finding that people share cross-generational interests – around music and fashion for example.

While we’re increasingly seeing grey-haired models in fashion magazines and marvel at the physique of yogis that don’t look their age, Eleanor warned brands against older person tokenism. When marketing to consumers, she proposes that we look at age-agnostic design, brand partnerships and micro-influencers to speak and engage with consumers in a more nuanced way.

Thanks to everyone who attended, engaged in the debate and ate the croissants. We even gave them all our just-launched bag and notebook to take home. An editorialised Crowd DNA report on agelessness will follow shortly!

Our next Rise breakfast event in Amsterdam sees Crowd DNA's Joey Zeelen set about reframing masculinity...

Date: September 27

Time: 8.15am-9am

Location: Crowd DNA, Sarphatistraat 49, Amsterdam

Brands are increasingly taking political, environmental and social stands. Many are addressing female aspirations and feminism with great effect.

But what are we doing about men?

This session explores changing attitudes to masculinity and, in particular, what being a man means among millennials. Looking at the tensions that have evolved around male identity, we’ll help brands harness opportunities – and speak better to men AND women.

Join us for delicious pastries and even more delicious insights. Contact Judith Lieftink if you and/or colleagues would like to attend.

Watch the trailer below:

Rise: Agelessness

Crowd DNA’s popular Rise breakfast events are back after a summer break. This time brand and communications expert Eleanor Sankey discusses how we can understand consumers in a world where age is just a number...

Date: September 14

Time: 8.15am-9am

Location: Crowd DNA, 5 Lux Building, 2-4 Hoxton Square, London N1 6NU

Consumer trends show that Gen Z is growing up faster than previous generations, millennials are delaying adulthood and Gen X and Boomers are living more ‘youthfully’ than ever before. On top of this, we’re living longer, working past retirement age and achieving major milestones later. As a result, brands are increasingly looking beyond age-based definitions.

In this session, we’ll help marketers understand consumers without age restrictions, moving beyond demographics to explore new ways of segmenting, targeting and making recommendations about how to communicate agelessness.

If you’d like to join us for coffee and croissants while discussing the secret of eternal youth marketing, please contact Jason Wolfe. And feel free to pass the invite onto colleagues of all ages.

Watch the trailer below:

First published in the MRS' Impact magazine, Crowd DNA associate director Jake Goretzki explores the fast-shifting attitudes to masculinity and male identity...

In May I presented ‘Gendershift: How To Speak Man’ at Crowd DNA’s regular breakfast event, Rise. This piece looks at shifts in attitudes to masculinity among Millennial men in the West and the opportunities this presents for brands.

Male identity is ‘hot right now’, in and beyond our sector. From Stormzy’s musings on male mental health to comedian Robert Webb’s forthcoming book ‘How Not To Be A Boy’. At Crowd DNA, we’ve developed a close interest in masculinity working with clients seeking to remain relevant to a young male audience – in an age where men aren’t the ‘lads’ they were a decade ago. The debate about ‘what makes a man’ isn’t, of course, new (remember the ‘New Man’ and the ‘Metrosexual’?), but is especially visible today.

For Gen Xers like me, raised by feminists and moisturising since their teens, opining on male dilemmas still feels, frankly, uncomfortable. Look: we still live in a patriarchy. Power is male. Wealth is male and the UK pay gaps grants men a 9.4% bonus over women. Outmoded ideas of men as promiscuous risk-takers and women as meek and emotional remain ubiquitous. ‘My heart bleeds for you’, my mum would tell me.

Male identity has been changing among Millennials. The drivers range from the (slow) advance of women in society to the mainstreaming of gay male identity. Male and female space has converged (from pubs to stag dos). Health and body are greater male preoccupations than ever before.

Today we see a more fluid, ‘individual masculinity’ that’s less binary and less ‘one size fits all’. Only 2% of men aged 18-24 said they were ‘completely masculine’ in a YouGov survey in 2015. Closer in, men have become more intimate and emotional (‘bromance’ is a word and US Presidents can cry now). When they do have children, men are more ‘Involved’, embracing fatherhood and not trying to escape the fact.

Yet for all this heartwarming progress at the leading edge, we’re seeing new tensions around masculinity. Most prominent is what’s called ‘toxic masculinity’, embodied by the (paradoxically make-up-wearing) Leader of the Free World (we did the crying when he was voted in). And behind him is a parade of back-to-the-kitchen growlers, ‘pick up artists’ and alt-right misogynists.

Worse still, Millennial men are living with a ‘misery epidemic’. As the charity ‘CALM’ reminds us, suicide is the biggest killer of young men (a subject touchingly covered by Professor Green). Being told that ‘boys don’t cry’ and appeals to ‘just be a man’ aren’t helping.

There are lesser tensions too. We see an increasing divergence between generations over what ‘being a man’ is, and a tendency among older men to misconstrue today’s men as ‘victims’ of female success (ask the Boomer icon Jeremy Clarkson how he feels about male identity today). We see a continued grapple to pin down an aspirational male archetype for today (strength and grit still dominate; witness the surge of Weekend Warriors and Tough Mudders).

Brands are increasingly reflecting changes. Unilever’s ‘Find Your Magic’ campaign for Lynx/Axe has long been a gold standard case study for us, celebrating a more nuanced, diverse idea of masculinity – the more so coming from a brand once associated with a laddish posture that irritated women. Fashion brands have been relatively brave too – Diesel’s ‘Make Love Not Walls’ doesn’t hide whose proposed wall it’s talking about.

In drinks, Coors now lets us laugh at Jean-Claude Van Damme’s faded machismo; Southern Comfort liberates with a pot-bellied beach walker. Over in the Deep South, Jim Beam is now fronted by Mila Kunis. (And suddenly, Jack Daniel’s gruff men of Lynchburg Tennessee are looking a little unreconstructed).

There are many opportunities for brands to speak more meaningfully to today’s young men. Brands can take a stand against toxic masculinity by talking to men and women as one, not two camps – tapping into male goodwill for female progress. Nike’s ‘Unlimited You’ is a bracing male and female story. ‘Walking the talk’ as an organisation is essential as well (American Apparel’s seedy casting of young submissive women won it few friends and bordered on the ‘toxic’). As Elina Vives, Senior Director of Marketing at Coors has said “Any brand nowadays has to stop insulting women first and foremost and be much more inclusive”.

Brands can also work on the ‘male happiness project’: stoicism and old masculinity are a straitjacket and, frankly, young men need ‘cheering up’. Friendship is now a kinder, warmer experience than the ‘lad bantz’ and locker room of old. It’s time too to banish the stock ‘doofus dad’, bemused by parenting and shopping. As Axe/Lynx’s shift showed, disrupting conventions of masculinity and bringing greater nuance to the man you portray can invigorate a brand and win over enemies. Today’s man? He’s not the man he was. And a good thing, too.

Our next Rise breakfast event in London sees Crowd DNA duo Jake Goretzki & Ken Wallraven set about reframing masculinity...

Date: May 4

Time: 8.15am-9am

Location: Crowd DNA, 5 Lux Building, 2-4 Hoxton Square, London N1 6NU

Brands are increasingly taking political, environmental and social stands. Many are addressing female aspirations and feminism with great effect.

But what are we doing about men?

This session explores changing attitudes to masculinity and, in particular, what being a man means among millennials. Looking at the tensions that have evolved around male identity, we’ll help brands harness opportunities – and speak better to men AND women.

Join us in the Lux Building for delicious pastries and even more delicious insights. Contact Jason Wolfe if you and/or colleagues would like to attend.

Watch the trailer below: