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Youth culture 'atomises'

News, 07 February 2017
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LONDON: Youth culture in the UK is "atomising" as younger consumers wish to avoid being seen as members of any particular tribe, according to new research.

This was one of the findings to emerge from a large-scale study that surveyed more than 33,000 people of all ages, including 11,000 between 16 and 30, in 18 countries, including the UK.

In particular, the Truth About Youth study from McCann Truth Central, McCann Worldgroup's global intelligence unit, reported that 87% of the UK's youth had no desire to be associated with hipsters – whose look was described as "an aesthetic involving vintage clothing and facial hair" – but added that neither did most want to belong to any other group.

At the same time, however, 62% claimed to be always looking for the next cool thing.

Another possible contradiction came in their views on technology. The study suggested that today's youth should not be seen as 'Digital Natives' so much as 'Accessibility Natives', wanting to reach people, places, ideas, and brands anywhere at any time.

Almost two thirds (64%) of UK 16-30 year olds said their personal connections would suffer with any loss, however small, of a mobile service (the global average was 56%), but "a significant minority" of those in their late teens and early 20s also said they hankered after a world without technology.

The so-called 'adulting' trend remains in evidence, with 32 seen as the average age at which it is acceptable to still live at home with parents and adulthood effectively a choice that can opted into on a daily basis.

One place where adulthood is taken reasonably seriously is the workplace, where half of those surveyed said that working hard was important, more so than honesty, cited by 30% as vital to success.

"Their tribes are atomising," said Theo Izzard-Brown Head of Strategy at McCann London, of today's youth. "They're valuing hard work over honesty in the workplace, and the rise of 'adulting' reveals the extent to which they feel it necessary to reinvent once traditional benchmarks for success.

All of these, he added, "have fundamental implications for brands as young people's lives become much more fluid than those of the generations that preceded them".

Data sourced from McCann Truth Central; additional content by Warc staff

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