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:

Norwegian youth drama SKAM’s fourth series just finished, but its fan base keeps on growing. Head of insight & innovation Dr Matilda Andersson explores the role audience insights played in its success...

Those of you who thought TV is dead, think again. The fourth series of SKAM, a teen drama made by NRK (Norway’s BBC) has just ended, leaving its global following wanting more. From Stavanger to San Francisco, SKAM’s success has been fuelled by fans sharing images on Tumblr, distributing translated transcripts via Google Drive and making subtitled videos available on YouTube. With unprecedented high ratings and a cult following that’s seen fans invading the set, stalking characters and learning Norwegian, what’s the secret of its success?

SKAM, or SHAME in English, captures the everyday lives of teens in an average Norwegian high school, giving a raw and up-close view of love and friendship today (date rape, coming out and cyberbullying are just some of the topics covered). The series is digital first, with episodes released online (at NRK.NO) scene by scene throughout the week, to create the impression that events are happening live. The stars of the show come to life through their social media presence, each character has an Instagram account, updated when something interesting happens in the series. Even though the digital storytelling contributes to the show’s success, it’s the extraordinary realism capturing young people’s lives and relationships that has created waves reaching far beyond its suburban Oslo setting.

At the 2017 YLE Media Digital Summit, SKAM producer Marianne Furevold-Boland talks about using the NABC Method to get under the skin of Gen Zs. NABC originates from Stanford and stands for Need, Approach, Benefit and Competition. A familiar approach to us here at Crowd DNA, this audience-centric model focuses on needs first and then helps build value propositions to fulfill them. The team at NRK conducted surveys, content analysis of Instagram and Snapchat stories and visited schools to make sure they really listened to their audience. The producers of SKAM realized that if the consumers are willing to tell you their stories, there’s no point making things up.

A British broadcaster has yet to pick up the series, though Simon Fuller has bought the rights to produce an English language version for US and Canada. In the meantime, you can watch a subtitled trailer here.

At Crowd DNA we’re very proud to have contributed a young audience needs model to help future proof broadcasting, presented at the MRS Impact conference earlier this year. As their path to adulthood becomes less predictable, it’s even more important to take time to listen to young people today. Youth brands can learn a lot from SKAM’s strong audience needs proposition, innovative execution and digital first distribution.

We're recruiting people to take part in a global lifestyle community...

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Crowd DNA are looking for people to take part in a one-year community about city life for a global lifestyle brand. The community will explore people’s experience of living in a city as well as their behaviour and ideas around areas such as innovation, sustainability and retail.

We’re looking for 20-35 year-olds with good quality written/spoken English skills who live in one the following cities (and have been resident in the country for 10 years or more):

London, Mumbai, San Francisco, Shanghai, Stockholm, Tokyo

What do you need to do?

Over the course of a year, you’re asked to complete fortnightly ‘quick-fire tasks’ (e.g. polls, written responses, taking pictures) and one ‘major task’ every two months (e.g. interviewing friends, diaries). Topics will vary for every task.

What’s in it for you?

We offer remuneration in the form of Amazon vouchers for tasks completed, as well as prize draws for the best response, general engagement and overall contribution.

If you’re interested, please fill in this questionnaire:

Know someone who’s a perfect fit? Then feel free to share this post.


Child’s Play

Hot on the heels of awesome work on a couple of seriously weighty kids and families project (one very global, one getting into the nitty-gritty of need-states), Crowd DNA’s Berny McManus shares thoughts on best practice...

Nothing stands still with kids and families. For as many years as Crowd DNA have been researching them, we’re continually surprised by how they evolve in line with cultural influences, societal expectations and technological developments. We’ve become pretty adept at getting to the heart of what makes kids and parents tick, so we thought that we’d put a spotlight on a few of things learnt along the way.

Being authentic is key – don’t try to be ‘one of them’

As a former primary school teacher, I’ve seen many people (myself included) fall into this trap. Despite the fact that we’ve all been children, we lose touch with what it’s like to actually be a kid. We forget how we like to be spoken to by adults. So here’s a quick reminder: kids, especially tweens, really don’t like it when you try to be ‘one of them’. It usually results in one (or more) of the following: confusion, mockery, loss of respect, eye-rolling or – worst case scenario for a researcher – they just tune you out. Focus on being you; they will respect you so much more for that.

Help them express themselves

Kids have fantastic imaginations but they understand and communicate in different ways to us. Some decipher the world by reading, while others digest more information via images or sounds. It’s so important to give them a number of ways to engage and communicate with us. We run sessions that include drawing, role play, using apps on tablets – the list goes on. Our research with kids throughout the years has shown that characters from books, TV programmes and games play a huge part in helping the youngest ones practice relationships and experiences in a safe environment through play. Role-play is an easy way for kids to express themselves, so we’re big fans of working this into our projects. We actually recommend this as a strategy to content producers who we work with; albeit for slightly different reasons. We’ve found kids imaginative play to be a great litmus test for how successful a piece of content, TV, book or game is going to be. If they adopt them in their role play, then the characters are likely to be influential and liked. Ultimately, if you want to unlock their innermost thoughts, then you have to be prepared to use an array of strategies. The results can be thought-provoking; the kids enjoy it – and we get to spend working hours pretending to be spacemen/cowboys/the Prime Minister.

From my perspective

Unsurprisingly, it’s kids’ subconscious behaviours that can be the most revealing, especially when it comes to uncovering their real motivations or emotions. We’re strong fans of using GoPros to evidence their behaviours and actions. They allow us to completely immerse ourselves in their world and of course see the world through their eyes. (It’s also often startling seeing things from their ‘perspective’; adults are giants and the supermarket is still a wall of treats and distractions).

Give them ownership

It’s also important to give kids ownership of the session. There are a number of ways to achieve this. The younger children can be given mini-jobs to do such as, ‘You’re responsible for giving everyone a sticker’; while slightly older kids see value in being the declared ‘expert’ on a particular topic (I’ve had many walk-through demonstrations of Minecraft and I’ve learnt something every time!). My favourite is co-creation as an approach. I’ve seen some very insightful outputs from short sessions, such as the conceptualisation of a new gaming app within an hour… and this was with eight year olds. Giving kids ownership of the session makes them feel valued and results in a far more engaged and enthusiastic participants.

From co-creation to GoPro footage, working with kids is always fascinating. Give them the right tools to express their thoughts and creativity, and the insights are pure magic. We’ll be running one of our Rise breakfast events on the subject of kids research shortly – stay tuned.

As the concept of luxury becomes increasingly intangible in the networked age, brands are experimenting with digital to attract Generation Z says creative delivery exec, Elizabeth Holdsworth...

In the post-recession age of discreet anti-bling (think Kinfolk: rustic, white-filtered and highly Instagram-able lifestyle scenes), the idea of luxury is becoming ever more abstracted, and brands are experimenting with ways to position themselves as aspirational within the digital realm. How do you engage with a generation that has grown up online, visually fluent teens who are skilful digital strategists on Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr? Add to the equation that, until recently, this generation neither expected – or have ever had to pay for – online content.

Burberry’s Snapchat campaigns were an early stride in conquering the ethereal world of teen luxury. Since then Snapchat has morphed into the new catwalk. Meanwhile on Instagram, Calvin Klein’s #MyCalvins campaign rolls around in bed with a flawless Kendall Jenner and takes to the skate park with an open-shirted Justin Bieber. Because Facebook’s biggest growing demographic is 55+, teens are seeking refuge away from older generations on platforms that are exclusive to them. Snapchat has over 100 million daily active users, 71% of which are under the age of 25.[1]

Originally released only on Tidal, Kanye West’s seventh studio album, ‘The Life Of Pablo’, is a haphazard attempt to bring luxury consumerism to the digital world of teens, the Gen Z demographic who are less interested in glitzy material possessions than the allure of new technology and services. Fans could only listen to’The Life Of Pablo’ by signing up to the premium streaming service.

Launched in October 2014, Perez Hilton labeled Tidal as ‘the streaming service for millionaires’, where the music itself takes on the flavour of a luxury status symbol. This sense of exclusivity comes from the subscription fee itself and also from the service’s options and respective price points — differences in audio quality that will only be perceptible to those already owning high-end sound systems. Any difference between Tidal’s so-called Premium and HiFi services will go unnoticed by consumers who are most likely to be streaming on smartphones and listening though headphones.

Tidal’s subscriber numbers reportedly doubled in the two weeks following the release of ‘The Life Of Pablo’, but it seems the tide of exclusive streaming is yet to turn. The platform is still dwarfed by services like Spotify, and has also failed to keep pace with Apple Music, which emerged around the same time. Retracting the original plan of Tidal-only exclusivity, ‘The Life Of Pablo’ has since emerged on other music services, achieving much greater impact. However Tidal’s subscriptions look set to explode following the release of Beyoncé’s video album Lemonade, available to view by subscription only.

This isn’t about luxury sound. Teens don’t care about lossless, hi-fi audio. They care about what’s trending, being part of the peer conversation, keeping up with the world’s biggest artists. This is about aspiration, of belonging, selling a more abstract idea of luxury than ever before — a dreamy Instagram still of the Kardashian Klan reclining in white Calvins. If luxury brands want to connect with Generation Z, they need to learn a life lesson from Pablo and continue to communicate these moments digitally, while constantly being aware of the limitations – though growing potential – of the paywall.

[1] DMR, By the Numbers: 60 Amazing Snapchat Statistics.


Our Amsterdam office co-hosts an evening dedicated to exploring and understanding youth culture on November 25 (18.30pm-21.00pm)...

We’re teaming up with our friends at creative agency SuperHeroes for this, covering new cultural trends alongside themes such as tech, brands, media and advertising. There’s plans afoot to showcase a panel of young artists, entrepreneurs and video bloggers, too.

It’s all happening at Sarphatistraat 49 Amsterdam. Contact Lydia Jones if you’d like to come along.

Millennials & Amsterdam

Amsterdam scores high among millennials as a place to live, play and - even! - work. But what makes it so attractive to them? How do they socialise? Where do they go out? Crowd DNA exec Joey Zeelen shares a bit of first hand knowledge...

Living in Amsterdam

‘Venice of the west’ is what they call it, and everyone that visits Amsterdam agrees – it’s a city to fall in love with. Amsterdam – or A’dam for locals – the city of 17th century architecture, with canals that make your heart skip a beat, and as many bars and restaurants as there are places to park your bike. But what is it like to actually live in the tourist capital of the Netherlands?

The Dam’s stunning appearance and village feel give it a really pleasant combination of big city allure and small city comfort. ‘Gezelligheid,’ a word that only seems to exist in continental Europe is perfect for grasping the day-to-day city vibe of Amsterdam. Gezelligheid means a convivial, cosy, fun, quaint, or nice atmosphere, but can also connote time spent with loved ones; the act of seeing a friend after a long absence, or general togetherness that gives a warm feeling. All of which emphasises the vibe of living in Amsterdam and what makes it so attractive to millennials.


However, as Johan Cruyff, Amsterdam’s most famous citizen, would say ‘elk voordeel heb zn nadeel’ – for every up there is a down. Over the last seven years, since the economic crisis, the rent in the Netherlands has remained very stable, an average square meter in Holland costing €12.49 a month. In Amsterdam, though, rent prices have seen a massive increase since 2008, with the average square meter costing €20.18 a month in 2014. In the third quarter of 2014, a 100m2 apartment in Amsterdam cost on average €1,931 a month, while one quarter later this same apartment would cost €2,018. Everyone can imagine what this means for millennials that want to buy property… they don’t.

But houses that were impossible for us to buy are now also impossible to rent. Extraordinary rent prices attract fast moving millennials that don’t have children, people that are not interested in a long-term responsibility with the city. Take that together with a relatively high amount of expats and you see why Amsterdam can be an expensive place for most of generation Y.


Gentrification is rife and, though it normally gets criticised, in Amsterdam it gives birth to a lot of life in the city. In the last decade it’s turned into a heaven for hipsters, yups, and yucs (young urban creatives). A’dam’s characteristic centre is complemented with artesian coffee, smoked meat and barbershops. Amsterdam is turning into a city that satisfies every basic need of a self-respecting yup or hipster. But is that a bad thing? Not really. It’s found a way to make styled boutiques and food markets work particularly well with working class fundamentals. Amsterdam seems to have hit the spot in combining what young and old want into a pleasant yet sometimes dodgy environment. Dubious coffeeshops go hand in hand with craft beer popups and they operate next to each other without compromising the city’s integrity… and millennials love it. It is this new ‘dodgy hipster mix’ that makes the city so interesting to my generation. This is also what makes more and more young parents stay in the city instead of moving to child-friendly cities like Haarlem or Amstelveen. It is safe to say that Amsterdam has become a safe haven for middle/upper class generation Ys to do/buy/experience what they crave for the most.

Going out

The influx of wealthy generation Ys has made the city the most vibrant it’s been in years. Going out, eating and drinking have become more diverse than ever. Brooklynese-raw, Berlin-hip, and Copenhagen-clean rule the scene and bring style into the traditionally uniform hospitality establishments. Organic and fair-trade food is bigger than ever. Trendy wining and dining, gin-tonics… a lot of gin-tonics, is what makes the millennial clock tick.

In the last decade A’dam’s music scene has risen to an absolute height, with electronics as a front-runner. There probably isn’t a city in the world that has so many music festivals in and around its centre (many even speak of a festival overload). Fuelled by millennials, organisations like Dekmantel and Digital, clubs like Studio80 and Trouw, have given Amsterdam’s contemporary electronic music scene serious international allure. Not since the Roxy and iT in the early nineties has Amsterdam competed so decisively with the likes of London and Berlin.

A’dam’s gentrification has pushed some millennials to Holland’s IT city, Rotterdam, where the rent is cheap and where people ride a car instead of a ‘bakfiets’ (carrier cycle, the ultimate A’dam yup symbol). However, Rotterdam will never compete with the consistency of Amsterdam’s music and arts scene, and the cultural richness that most millennials live for. A’dam can be financially tough and seem like a hipster Valhalla, but at heart it’s a city shaped by generation Ys, where ‘gezelligheid’ rules the day and the night is more exciting than ever.

Meet the generation who'll become teenagers from 2023 onwards; who'll be living into the 22nd Century; and who'll be forming their identities in ways unknown to ourselves...

We’ve been exploring what the lives of so called Generation Alpha will be like of late. We can gas on about this topic for ages (and indeed we did here) but, if your time is short, here’s a nifty little video that explains plenty.