Con-Demmed youth: What will happen to the kids who have to pick up the tab?

Andreas Thorslund and Nicola Turnill
Dipsticks Research


When we noticed that recent portrayals of young people in the press were mostly negative, presenting an angry and frustrated underclass stuck in perpetual unemployment; we wanted to understand whether this was justified. A number of relevant articles and academic papers seemed to substantiate the gloomy media reporting. The most recent report from the Independent National Equality Panel concludes that: "Inequalities in earnings and incomes are high in Britain, both compared with other industrialised countries, and compared with over thirty years ago"1 In other words social mobility is on the decline and this is most evident among young people with one in ten 16-18 year olds classified as NEET (not in education, employment or training) in the UK2. Young people's current situation will change the way they think about the future and their role in a polarised society. We wanted to understand the effects these social changes may have on retail consumption and brands, now and in the future. We conducted an online survey with a spread of 1,000 18-24 year olds from all walks of life, from mollycoddled students to secondary school drop-outs. After data collection a segmentation analysis was carried out by Ken Baker (MRS Fellow) and 5 distinct typographies of young people clearly emerged. We then further followed this up with some qualitative research to bring the findings to life and add depth. The research showed that reality for today's young people isn't as black and white as recent media reporting would have us believe. The recession has had a hugely unequal impact depending on social class and background and it's clear we can't paint a picture of young people using one brush. Multinational brands know that they need to capture the loyalty of young people early, but the division and divergence of experience between our 5 typographies is clearly having a massive impact on spending and consumer habits today. Moving forwards this is likely to have a massive impact on brands, marketing and consumption in the future.