RISC International recently released their global teen trends survey, which looks at the teens in 10 countries (USA – 5 from Europe, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK and the BRIC nations Brazil, Russia, India, China). The results, which are sometimes counter-intuitive sometimes obvious and always interesting, we’re received with great enthusiasm at the “What Teens Want” Conference in NYC in late June.
At the conference I had opportunity to sit with Sharon Greene, the managing director or RISC International. Sharon, was raised in Ireland, started her career as a designer in Italy, moved into Sales and Marketing in London, got an MBA in Paris and after leading the consulting department of a web services firm joined RISC. RISC is a Global Consultancy that specializes in understanding consumer behavior and trends as a way to assist global companies in designing their long-term business strategies. Their clients include Phillips, Nokia, Loreal, Pernod-Ricard and many more.
Why do Teens Matter?
Teens matter because they are shaping the way the world will be tomorrow. With 300-400 million teens around the world their mindset is shaping the future.
What are the top trends in teens?
There are five. I’ll list them for you and provide a little context.
1 - Environment Now. Teens are concerned about the future of their planet and their personal future is at the center of that. They are active rather than activists. Their approach is holistic marked by a desire to enjoy life and consumption together. 63% believe their purchase habits can change the world.
2 - Beyond Hedonism. Still fun-loving, today’s teens are increasingly seeking meaning and looking to shape their life by values. This desire to change things is on the increase with the west leading a move towards more altruism and a sense of connectedness. Only 17% of teens desire the status quo.
3 - New Nomads. In an increasingly mobile world these new teen nomads, connecting through shared spaces, are lonelier than ever. There is a renewed enthusiasm for real connection, home and family. 74% love being at home. For those who think it’s just about all digital, it’s not.
4 - Soul Bridges – Spirituality, exploration and enrichment. Teens are looking further than introspection. Teens are enriching life by reaching out to others and looking to explore what’s beyond the horizon. 60% feel part of a whole.
5- Social Inspiration. The new trailblazers. In an increasingly flat world they see the appearance of a new hierarchical order. They see autonomy and interdependence combining to help them inspire and be inspired. To help them follow when needed and lead when needed. 58% believe they are natural leaders.
One can’t ignore the fact that these teens are not superficial. They are committed to connecting deeper, create real change and are unwilling to accept the world as is.
How long have you been following teens and how different are these trends than 5 years ago?
We’ve been following teens for 25 years. Teens have always been rebellious. Today’s teen rebellion is different. It’s softer. They are not wiling to accept our society as is. They want change and they are wiling to take responsibly. Activism has grown dramatically.
How can we help teens be more successful?
We need to listen. These teens are saying very important things and we must not pre-suppose that we are older and have greater perspective. We need to stop projecting our vision onto them and start listening to theirs. This is their world and we have to help them create it.
How can we tap the power of teen trends to grow our business?
First of all understand the trends and engage teens. Listen to what motivates them and then build products and services with them that solve their problems
How do teens feel about advertising?
I don’t see anything that says they are against advertising. They are just looking for relevancy. They don’t like being talked down to and they don’t like top down messaging. They see that type of advertising as wasteful and they don’t like waste. They like humor.They want to be respected and engaged.
What has surprised you most in your research?
In this study I came away wonderfully optimistic. When we look at global trends we see 25-30% of the population with high and meaningful aspirations. That makes us feel very good.
Do teens want to be rich?
Not in the way they did in the past. We are moving away from the era of “to have” to the era of “to be”. Teens don’t see working harder as a way to get more as a path. They want a more quality life. They don’t get status from wealth but rather from who they are and what they do.
To learn more check out the white papers at Risc International