YOUNG AND YEARNING-NO CHILD’S PLAY
POONAM SINGH JAMWAL
This generation is more powerful and more influential than ever before.
People, their predilection and their core needs almost always remain the same, over centuries. The youth of today are grappling with similar anxieties- be it in careers, aspirations or relationships, as young people a generation ago. The big difference today is that young are more powerful than ever before with multiple options and critical decision making role. In the same way, child rearing concerns remain the same but parental concern is intense and professional support an accepted norm. Amidst all this, the Target-The Child strives to cope with the breathless present times and his/her anxious personal managers (read parents, counselors, teachers, marketer etc). Tough job. The New Child copes pretty nonchalantly with expectations and aspirations, as he/she is an evolved species-involved and individualistic; interested and interesting.
In the last decade, pace of change has been stupendous-almost moving at the speed of thought. The onus of this constant change-from ideation to actualization- goes to the youth. This is a generation of dreamers, who just do it. Bill Gates in his iconic avatar is one of the many that light the way. They celebrate flights of mind unshackled by stereotypes. They build a car they want. They make their own destinies.
Some marketers, however, are reeling and trying to comprehend the mystic of multi dimensional/Wo/Man Child-Classless, seamless and effortless. Few, preempting the evolution, are creating systems, communications and products, to evolve at the speed that matches the leap of young mind.
Let’s learn more. Afterall, he has the remote control to the modern market. This is a result of informal interviews with over 150 teenagers essentially from urban middle class and upper middleclass. It is supported through discussions with focus groups of parents, teachers, counselors and other adults interfacing with them.
Asian consumer behaviour could be described in one word: Contradictory. Sangeeta Gupta, director, client services, AC Nielsen, in one of the news reports said that “youth absorb outward trends and buy the latest in fashion at first sight. But when it comes to inward attitudinal changes, they come much later. This consumer prefers thrift and treats together rather than one over the other.” Yet there is a convergence of global teen values like consumerism, materialism, independence and openness to new culture. “Culture, nationality and religion will continue to provide a key role, all religion preach restraint and renunciation .This will not change easily,” she says. It’s not what product is in demand but how the message is taken to the audience. Airtel’s ad –Power of Human Expression is on their minds as is Paint the sky red of Amity’s new campaign. Appealing the Indian tween and the teen is a challenge advertiser is struggling to nail.Here are some insights on them.
Walking on the edge
The New Indian Kid experiences the dichotomy. He seeks and finds advancement at the touch of a finger (with access to instruments like the ipod, mobile with camera, pc, smart appliances etc) while at the same time s/he struggles with daily convenience (electricity, water, speed of net, state of roads on the way to school and state of classroom and interaction within).S/he tries to strike a balance, taking the best out of the situation. Therefore, he accepts situations and but expects change. He aspires for the best and is ready to plough through the chaos to get there.
S/He takes the power cut in a stride as the inverter is expected to come on instantly. If it doesn’t, s/he moves from television set instantly to chat on the cell. S/He is occupied and connected. He is seamlessly moving between the reality and possibility. This mindspace is a challenge.
New role models
To the Indian youth, a rebel is no more a role model (no angry young man or misplaced self righteousness) but a multifaceted person with greys /perhaps someone who has earned success in his lifetime and walked the untread road to find the rainbow.
Mittal –Man of Steel symbolizes a spirit of achievement because he dared to dream. He is the latest youth icon for he expanded their horizons and his life is a celebration of the spirit of enterprise. The next Big thing was Amitabh Bacchan, representing excellence at all cost and for resurrecting himself on the dint of sheer talent. Master of the craft. His dignity and class in Crorepati was a turning point. (See the no age bar sign here. (62 yr old youth icon).
Then, there are the all time favorites- Sharukh/ Tendulakar/Bill Gates/ Lance Armstrong. Latest of the horizon was Zidane- the fallen hero. Their life is an inspiration. They are boys next door who took their chances and evolved into men in control. They have achieved success on their own steam and are handling it with elan. Inspiration quotients need to be better researched. Is it excellence at all cost or going where no man has gone before or is it never say die spirit. All of these icons do what they like and have made that a success and a career. Young like that.
Blending of past and present
Looking at the quality of life today with double income families where parents have very little time for their children, new roles have emerged. The young ones are becoming an integral part of all decision making and are the prime product/service users. Grandparents are the nurtures. Joint families in their new context of urban settings have evolved.It is based on economic sense, social support systems, cooperation and mutually beneficial wisdom. This has resulted in a generation of Indians with the wind beneath their wings and safety nets. This generation outwardly seeking but is inwardly connected to famlial bonding and responsibility.
Value system is imbibed through living within the larger family setups and sensitivity is internalized through the process of coexistence with varied generations’ needs and aspirations. Anchored bonhomie is characteristic to this group. Dadaji trying his hand on youngster’s guitar tickles their funny bone and they don’t go urmph! In a survey on finding the youth icons, a large percentage placed their grandparents as heros along with the other stars, for their vision and hardwork. Unique.
Being hooked on to the virtual reality and the possibility of exploring the world in its entire three dimensional perspectives with a touch of a button fascinates them. But this has a downside- this has led to shorter attention spans, increased incidences of black moods and rage resulting from boredom. Enter counselors, consultants and wellness- gurus, mantras, yantras. Also a paradigm shift in pedagogy. New business has unfolded and presents Business Opportunity for agony aunts, educators, technology, and telecommunication to help bridge the real and virtual world. Thus, respond to the new need of keeping this audience interested and in sync.
Multitasking and adopting new roles-
Multitasking has become a part of today’s youth wherein they look forward to a life packed with school time, tuitions, dance classes, family vacation, tennis lessons, etc. They want to explore their potential as much as they can with no set rules to their stretchibility. Personal growth is as important as family priorities. The Dog has to be walked, trash cleared, table laid, tuition attended and lunch fixed. It is cool to take up yoga along side salsa as is to play tabla or sitar. They seamlessly straddle the ultra traditional and westernized world with ease.
This consumer is savvy, demanding and not trusting and is looking for products/ services that multitask and improve upon convenience as much as aesthetics.
While designing commercials, marketers have to be very careful with the communication. They need to emphasize on element of worth for the young one. E.g. elements like style, statement, are as important as comfort and functionality. Hello Moto’s popularity is because the pre teens have advised their moneypockets that it is right balance of style, facility and functionality. They are looking for appeal that is multi dimensional-Music, picture, voice, sms, call, rolled in one and then, you can-slip it into jean pocket unobtrusively (wasn’t this being bought for Mom?).
Life compressed-nano second existence-digiworld.
Digi life style is impacting our lives at an astounding rate. Online access to knowledge, friends, and entertainment is the driving force in the modern day child’s life. He seeks latest gizmos and games. S/He believes in the 2 minute life style. Maggi noodles or instant coffee might have changed life for mom in a rush, but this new generation likes to extend it to every aspect of their life. “The guiding principle when addressing this group is to talk with them, not to them. They have hypersensitive marketing radar and can smell a "sell job" a mile away. Hot buttons -- instant messaging, e-mail marketing, viral marketing, advergaming, streaming audio, file sharing, and nonintrusive rich media -- are prime methods for reaching this audience.
Traditional marketing and media arsenal of TV, print, radio, and out-of-home may not be the powerful mix it once was. Young consumers don't see the world as traditional and digital media silos, but rather as a continuum of entertainment, information, and communication.” Angel Morale.
Young people a pproach is - Just do it - Lets go - Here and now. They believe in living life to the fullest and to create revolutions every nanosecond. Interactive communication might work with them better.eg.the Gaming that provides what if scenarios of real life situations (that is real sticky eyeballs).Fifa cup’s finals game was most fascinating to catch the very first day after the match in the gaming circuit.All the what if versions were played and discussed.
The young are egalitarians. Biases and Barriers don’t exist. Whether gender,age,class or whatever.They weigh each on the individual worth. If you can afford it-go for it. You earned it and thus, you deserve it. They accept that personal care parlours may be visited by affluent as much as it is by their domestic help/by both genders and from wider range of age groups-grandparents and children included and also by dogs. You want it-go get it. Mobile phones are no longer an item of luxury but more of convenience. Be it a driver, vegetable vendor, company salesman or be it a CEO, all need it as a basic necessity. Service providers need to give high quality service as lowest common denominator. Variation may come in the product per se. Niches need sub niches.
Expect to be served- Not in the traditional sense of servility and liveried attendants but in the sense of product’s total quality and attention to detail. Today’s youth expects a personalized world to be delivered to him. He has high level of self worth and varied success benchmarks. Everything is undertaken with a purpose of what’s in this for me, therefore wants to relate things to thrill, growth, success, appreciation. Every decision has an instant P and L statement. Every message assimilation and retention is based on this.
The 24x7 life that the young apparently lead is possible because of new groundedness that has permeated this lot which is high on values, familial bonding and spirituality. This set seeks p roduct and service-driven by technology-lending pace, space and convenience.. Marketer has to keep the message snappy and pithy; the medium new and product that delivers the promise. Fulfill his/her “I want” (aspiration).
Today young world is exclusive but all encompassing, accepting as it is expecting, ultra modernist as neo traditionalist. This is a breed of life gluttons. Every product, service, interface and message should keep the offer-
- Small as can be handled (delivery of promise is more important than promise);
- Vibrant as possible(understand their range);
- Relevant (understand their need); and
- Leverage new mediums (online time and TV time match in quantity)
- Create brand personality (stand for something).