EURO RSCG WORLDWIDE VOL 3 | 2007THE FUTURE OF GENERATIONS
the future of gener ations | vol 3 3 Rethinking Generation Blur 4 Youthsurpers Refuse to Grow Old 13 The Survivor Generation Fights to Get (and Stay) Ahead 21 What’s Next: Applying Cross-Aging Realities to Brand Building
3→ RETHINKING GENERATION BLUR In most parts of the Western world, our notions of what it means to be “young” and “old” have been turned upside down. On the surface, the generations appear to have melded, with young people and their parents (sometimes even grandparents) listening to the same music, enjoying the same TV shows, wearing the same fashions, and identifying with the same brands. A musician selling out stadiums may be age 20 or 60, and expectant first-time mothers may have just graduated from high school or already be planning for retirement. On the surface, then, it can seem as though age is virtually meaningless and the generation gaps of old are gone. Don’t be fooled by appearances. For ease of reference, the younger cohort will be classified throughout this report as YOUTH, while the Today’s youth and their parents are living in two older cohort will be termed BOOMERS, an appellation very different worlds — with disparate views and drawn from the baby boomer generation (b. 1946–1964) expectations in areas ranging from creativity to in the United States and Europe, and now commonly financial security. While people in their mid-40s used throughout much of the world to designate people through early 60 s are maintaining a youthful who came of age in the 1960s and 1970s. outlook and existence, their children are burdened by very adult pressures and concerns. Forced to grow up too quickly, young people are engaged in what they consider an incessant struggle to survive. It’s as if one generation has been forced to sacrifice its youth so the other needn’t give it up. The results of Euro RSCG Worldwide’s Cross-Aging Study 2006 have significant implications for marketers and anyone else with a stake in understanding how members of two key generations are thinking, feeling, and behaving. The study was conducted among men and women aged 18 and older in four markets: the United States (n=1,000), France (n=1,000), Spain (n=1,000), and the United Kingdom (n=1,000). To provide the clearest view possible of generational distinctions, this report focuses on the youngest and oldest respondents: people aged 18–24 and 55+.
4 b: boomer sample (55+) y: youth sample (18-24) u. s. france spain u. k. Youthsurpers Refuse to Grow Old Boomers are a generation like no other, thanks not It’s almost as if today’s teens and newbie adults have only to their sheer size and economic might, but also given up on the idea of being young, having turned to the depth of their influence on society. After the over their rightful claim to the Youthsurpers. But, as is horrors and deprivations of World War II, Western shown later in this report, what they’re really rejecting Europe and the United States were eager to lavish is a version of youth that emphasizes risk taking, rule attention and money on a new wave of children. The breaking, and a lack of direction. These young people result was a generation that gave new meaning to aren’t embarrassed to be seen as taking life seriously youth, creating a modern-day ethos marked by sex, or as focused on achieving their goals. Under the drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, and political/societal alienation. circumstances, it seems to be the logical approach. The boomers helped turn the adolescent years into a realm distinct from childhood and adulthood. And, since coming of age in the 1960s and 1970s, they have promoted the idea that youth is everything. To be young means to be creative, passionate, innovative, and influential. To be old means to be out i act younger than my parents of the action and inconsequential. It’s little wonder, did at my age then, that the boomers have refused to cede control of youth. Instead of accepting the inevitability of aging and passing the baton to the next generation, b: 81% 79% 80% 86% boomers have become usurpers of youth— or Youthsurpers. When they could no longer pretend they were truly young, they invented “middle youth” and moved that to center stage. From their position pyschologically/emotionally, i feel of authority, they have scoffed at the notion their older than my chronological age children can supplant them. In their minds, youth culture is their culture, the basis of their entire cultural identity, and they won’t cede control of it until they’re y: 69% 41% 36% 44% in their graves — if then. Proof of this Youthsurpation can be seen in responses to the statement: “I act younger than my parents did at my age.” While only a minority of youth in each country agreed with the statement, the vast majority of boomers did so. Even more striking, large minorities of youth in three markets and nearly seven in 10 young Americans claim to feel psychologically/emotionally older than their chronological age — suggesting they carry a mental burden their parents don’t share.
6 i feel physically younger than my chronological age Staying “Forever Young” Is Now a Lifelong Strategy Half a century ago, age-based life stages were b : 76% 79% 75% 74% delineated quite clearly. Middle age crept in around age 35 or 40, a time when people were expected to have settled into a permanent identity and have a family and career well under way. By age 60 or 65, i feel psychologically/emotionally younger than my age life was winding down, and people were expected to “downsize” their lifestyles and enjoy quieter pursuits. The generations understood what was expected of them and generally complied. b : 78% 82% 79% 82% Now boomers have changed the rules. Rather than think of themselves as growing old, many people in their 50s and 60s haven’t even acceded to middle age. compared with previous generations, These Youthsurpers look young, act young, and think older people today are living fuller lives young, and so, in their minds at least, they are young. More than three-quarters of boomers in each of the respondent markets claim to feel physically younger b : 96% 93% 86% 96% than their chronological age, and an even greater number feel psychologically/emotionally younger. Are these youthful feelings just a case of wishful y : 73% 71% 67% 72% thinking? The evidence suggests otherwise: In the U.S., there are techno parties for sexually liberated gay boomers who have no intention of retiring from the dance floor. Motorcycle ownership rates were compared with previous generations, up 44 percent among boomers between 1990 and older people today are more fun 2003, compared with just 6 percent in the general population. And the pornography industry has seen a boom in demand for videos featuring women in b : 78% 78% 73% 79% their 40s and 50s. In the U.K., there’s a skateboarding association for men aged 40 + who want to keep grinding and kick-turning as long as their bodies will let them. It’s little wonder, then, that a large y : 46% 60% 52% 61% majority of our survey respondents contend older people today are leading fuller lives than their predecessors. More than seven in 10 boomers also claim older people are more fun today. i expect to live an active retirement, Clearly, this generation of Youthsurpers is enjoying filled with activities and good friends the present and looking forward to the future. The vast majority expect retirement to be filled with friends and fun. For some, retirement will be b : 91% 88% 88% 77% pushed back as they explore new careers. Recent studies have found some 80 percent of “retired” U.S. boomers expect to work at least part time either for enjoyment or out of financial necessity. A growing number of boomers are moving back to their old college communities to ensure their “golden years” will be filled with fellowship and intellectual stimulation. As many as 100 university-affiliated retirement developments are now open or planned throughout the U.S.
7 Age Is Not Constant “Young at heart,” “you’re as young as you feel,” “wise beyond your years”— these are just some of the phrases used to describe the transitory state of age. The truth is, “age” is about much more than the number of days one has been on the planet. It’s a dynamic concept with physical, emotional, and spiritual components. One’s physical age may not match one’s emotional age, spiritual age, or life-experiences age. Age is transitory in that how old or young one feels may change from day to day, depending on the way one’s body feels and the condition of one’s mental state. There’s a role for brands to play in helping people of all chronological ages reach — and maintain — their desired “age.” Is Aging All in the Mind? i feel these are the best years of my life Advances in medicine and physical therapy, improved diet, and new sports and exercise b : 50% 31% 37% 30% equipment that help older people defy aging all contribute to boomers’ sense of youthfulness. Arguably as important is their attitude: Significant proportions of boomers, including nearly half in i feel the best years of my life are yet to come France and Spain, contend they feel better now than they ever have before. Approximately one- third (and half of boomers in the U.S.) say they’re b : 39% 31% 38% 28% currently enjoying the best years of their lives. And many feel their best years are still ahead of them, presumably as they look toward retirement. age is mostly a state of mind; people For the Youthsurper generation, attitude is at least are as young or old as they feel half the battle when it comes to aging. In each of the four markets, a majority of both age groups don’t consider age a chronological certainty b : 90% 96% 89% 90% beyond their control. Rather, age is a state of mind — and people who feel young are young. This attitude is particularly prevalent in France, where 95 percent of youth and 96 percent of y : 89% 95% 81% 87% boomers consider age to be attitude dependent. Feeling young, according to the respondents, gives people license to act young. Boomers, i feel there is no longer such a thing in particular, are apt to agree there is no longer as “age appropriate”; people can act any such thing as “age appropriate,” contending whatever age they want people can act whatever age they feel. A majority of boomers in each country believe they, personally, are still connected to youth, with similar likes b : 77% 89% 76% 83% and dislikes. i still feel connected to youth; there’s no big difference in the i feel better than i ever have before things i like b : 33% 48% 46% 27% b : 62% 72% 66% 62%
8 i do things every day to improve my health Banishing the Signs and Symptoms of Age Turning youth into an attitude and refusing to b : 65% 70% 59% 48% succumb to “senior think” is just one part of a two-pronged strategy boomers are using to stay forever young. At the same time that they’re y : 60% 58% 47% 27% adhering to a youthful mindset, the Youthsurpers are also taking advantage of an array of anti-aging tactics and technologies. Not surprising for a generation widely regarded as more proactive and health aware, a majority of boomers in i’m doing everything i can to hold each market (other than the U.K.) are doing things off the aging process every day to improve their health. And nearly half of boomers in France and Spain claim to be doing everything they can to ward off the aging process, as b : 44% 49% 48% 37% do significant minorities in the U.S. and U.K. Removing signs of age through cosmetic surgery is a distinct possibility for a minority of boomers, with the greatest support coming from Spain. y : 19% 30% 26% 23% The desire to stay healthy (and younger looking) longer has become more important as life expectancies have increased. In the U.S., the Census Bureau predicts the number of people aged 100 and i approve of nip-and-tuck facial surgery over will top 800,000 by 2046, more than 10 times the number of centenarians today. Among our samples, U.S. respondents were most likely to think they’ll reach the 100-year mark, with 43 percent of boomers (and 52 b : 21% 30% 43% 17% percent of youth —see Appendix) agreeing there’s an excellent chance they’ll see their 100th birthday. Most striking about this segment of data is that boomers’ focus on youth and their disdain for physical there is an excellent chance i will aging have already seeped into the mindset — and live to be 100 behaviors — of the genuinely young. A clear majority of youth in the U.S. and France, and a near majority in Spain, already are taking daily measures to improve b : 43% 24% 27% 31% their health. This at a stage of life when they might be expected to feel invincible — and certainly not worried about health issues that might or might not arise in the distant future. Significant minorities of youth — including nearly one-third of the sample in France — also are doing everything they can to stave off the aging process. They appear to have gotten the message that the sooner they start, the more successful their fight against the ravages of time will be. This early focus on health and aging is one of a number of clues telling us today’s youth are taking a more serious (and certainly more practical) approach to life and aging. Staying healthy and youthful looking is likely an important component of their individual survival strategies, detailed later in this report.
9 the internet is a perfectly acceptable way to find romantic partners Technophilia Knows No Age The use of technology is often cited as the biggest divide between the generations, but Euro RSCG’s b : 26% 53% 39% 33% survey found that particular gap surprisingly small. Although youth use technologies in different ways than their boomer parents (detailed later in this report), the two generations come out relatively equal in y : 37% 66% 44% 36% their tendency to enjoy splurging on things high-tech. The only major gap exists in the U.S., where only 26 percent of boomers, compared with 44 percent of youth, enjoy spending their money this way. In the i enjoy spending disposable income other markets, the gap is six percentage points or less. on technology Perhaps even more telling is the extent to which boomers have embraced the Internet as a pathway to romance. Although in each market, youth are more b : 26% 29% 50% 30% inclined to look for love connections online, the gaps are relatively small. This is in keeping with boomers’ overall tendency to keep up with the times and embrace new things.Their adoption of technology is just y : 44% 32% 56% 36% one more way this generation stays connected to youth; it’s virtually inconceivable they would have let the tech revolution pass them by. Being “Old” Is Having One Foot in the Mental Grave In the modern world, with its expanded life expectancies, people grow “old” not when their bodies give out but when they give up on living. Being old means no longer having a zest for life, no longer doing the things one enjoys, and resigning oneself to a life without anticipation. The most important brands offering lifelong “youth” aren’t focused on changing appearance or physical capacity, but on keeping moods positive and minds active. People who always look forward to what the new day will bring never truly grow old. There may be opportunity here for brands to speak to the lost sense of what it means to be “old,” in terms of wisdom, knowledge, patience, and perspective. In a youth-obsessed society, reminders of the virtues of age are likely to be well received, and not just by those moving toward the end of life, but also by young people who would derive comfort from knowing there are other people in the world on whom they can depend for knowledge and counsel.
10 Like Their Own Parents, Youthsurpers Just Don’t Get Today’s Youth By turning youth into an attitude and disconnecting it from chronological age, boomers have given themselves the right to judge the “youth credentials” of succeeding generations — and they’ve all been deemed subpar. They criticize young people for being politically apathetic, whereas their generation was all about “changing the world,” but then they mock youths’ activist efforts as trivial or misguided. Young people who “rock the vote” are conformist and staying inside the system; youth who take to the streets against immigration or globalization are miscreants, not activists. It’s interesting to note that when French youth demonstrated against the new employment policy in 2005 (first peacefully and then more violently), they weren’t rebelling against “the system,” but, rather, demanding to be a part of it. This wasn’t about high-minded political or social change; it was about jobs and personal economic security. What many boomers fail to factor into their thinking While boomers decry youth’s tendency to “sample” when criticizing youth as apathetic or selfish is that the work of earlier artists, youth view it as a way to today’s teens and young adults have grown up in an “remix” the old and new — creating an entirely fresh era of free-floating anxiety, never knowing where the interpretation and experience. Their remixed way of next bombs will explode, the next natural disaster living allows them to make anything and everything will erupt, or the next health threat will emerge. uniquely their own — from their personal look to the Today’s youth do have social values, but they’re more playlists on their iPods. Where other users may simply apt to express them through volunteer work than download tunes to their MP3 players in random order, through protest. Thanks to new technologies, they younger people tend to approach the task with much feel genuinely connected to other parts of the world, care and thought. It’s their way of adding their own and they’re less interested in making a statement than unique touch to the art of others. in making a difference. In the U.S., the Corporation for National and Community Service estimates 55 percent of teens volunteer, contributing more than 1.3 billion hours of service each year. In the words of Steve Culbertson, president and CEO of Youth Service 1“ Teenagers Take Up Challenge of Service,” Plain Dealer America, “I like to argue that this is the greatest (Cleveland, Ohio), January 30, 2006 generation, and nobody knows it.” 1 Boomers also deride modern youth as boring, uncreative, and overly serious—all characteristics they believe fly in the face of what youth is meant to be. What they’re overlooking is that, until their own generation, adolescence and young adulthood wasn’t so much a time for freedom and experimentation as it was about growing up and assuming adult responsibilities. Having imposed their individualistic ideology of fun, freedom, and creativity as the norm, boomers fail to recognize that today’s youth are being self-expressive and creative in their own ways— including through blogs, videos, and other e-content.
11 In general, at what age do Youthsurpers Will Never Concede people become “old” today? the Battle Against Old Age There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that boomers have no intention of acquiescing to old age — at least not anytime soon. This was corroborated by Euro YOUTH RESPONSES RSCG’s Cross-Aging Study. The World Bank estimates current global life expectancy at age 66, and the U.S. U.S. 40s Census Bureau shows a range from 77 to 79 years of age 50s in the four markets studied. Despite these statistics, FRANCE 60s the majority of boomer survey respondents don’t think 70s old age begins until one’s 80s. In other words, they SPAIN don’t think they will ever grow old. 80s+ U.K. As the charts to the left show, there’s a significant gap in terms of when boomers and youth believe old age 0 50% 100% sets in. It’s interesting to note, however, only a small minority of youth think the boomers are already “old.” It’s this sort of thinking that has brought Sylvester Stallone (at age 60) back into the ring as Rocky Balboa BOOMER RESPONSES and into the jungle as John Rambo. It’s what keeps the Rolling Stones and The Who on the road, and U.S. drives reunion tours by The Police and Van Halen. And it’s what persuades 50-somethings such as Spanish FRANCE actress Ana Obregón (famously derided as “geriatric Barbie”) that it’s OK to appear in public in hot pants SPAIN and revealing tops. Whether the first wave of boomers can extend their U.K. “youth think” and active lifestyles for another 20 years 0 50% 100% is debatable, but it’s certain that whatever their “old age” ends up looking like, it’s going to be far different from anything we’ve seen with past generations. It’s equally certain they’ll continue to regard any youth culture in which they’re not the main players as a pale imitation of their own. i feel old age begins with one’s 80s b : 61% 72% 51% 56% y : 17% 32% 17% 13%
13 The Survivor Generation Fights to Get (and Stay) Ahead So, boomers are enjoying their current lives, feeling younger than previous generations did at their age, and are confident their remaining years will be happy and fulfilling. It would be easy to presume that they’ve passed on their blithe attitudes and sense of optimism to their children and grandchildren, but this is far from the case. While boomers are reveling in their version of the fountain of youth, the young people in Euro RSCG’s Cross-Aging Study show signs of premature aging. Confronted with a hypercompetitive world that offers only tattered safety nets at best, youth are showing a seriousness of nature and concern for the future that their elders never quite mastered. They’re just as passionate and committed as their parents were to “being part of the solution,” but they’re much more pragmatic about the world in which they live and the paths they intend their lives to take.
14 This generation has a strong sense that there are only a set number of places at the table of success—and far today’s youth are exposed to violence at too young an age more people than there are chairs. Each one of them wants to secure a spot, and that means outsmarting and outlasting the competition. They want to be b : 90% 94% 81% 88% survivors, but not in the sense of merely staying alive and eking out a bare existence; rather, they want to be among the “last men (and women) standing” as other members of their generation are cut from the y : 83% 86% 86% 89% list of the elite. Their goal is to reach a level of success at which they’ll no longer have to worry about what tomorrow might bring. To them, “making it” is less about status than security. today’s youth are exposed to sex at too young an age No Time for Childhood When You b : 89% 76% 75% 88% Grow Up at Light Speed Understanding why this new generation is so different from their parents’ requires knowledge of the elements that have shaped them. Childhood has become y : 79% 63% 74% 81% abbreviated, with children starting school as young as age two — sometimes after being in a daycare setting since shortly after birth. Technologies (new and old) expose young children to a breadth of images today’s youth aren’t given enough and information past generations could hardly have of a chance to just be kids imagined. And unstructured playtime has given way to scheduled play dates, enrichment classes, and competitive sports. b : 89% 67% 58% 83% Survey respondents in every market agreed today’s youth are growing up too fast, including being exposed to violence and sex at too young an age. And it’s not just boomers who are concerned for the younger y : 69% 62% 49% 76% generation; youths themselves show strong opposition to the speed at which they’ve been forced to mature, and a significant majority in every country but Spain believe they weren’t given a chance to “just be kids.” today’s youth are under too much stress Stress emerges as a significant factor in today’s abbreviated childhoods, suggesting it has played a formative role in how young people view their lives b : 72% 84% 70% 57% and the broader world. A majority of both age cohorts in all four markets contend youth are under too much stress, with particularly strong agreement in France and the U.S. There’s no shortage of possible y : 83% 83% 72% 68% contributing factors, which certainly would include greater academic and employment competition as a consequence of women’s entry into the workforce, the faster pace of life brought on by new technologies and 24/7 lifestyles, and inflated expectations surrounding growing up today is harder than standards of living. it was when i was a kid Whereas boomers grew up in a period of postwar prosperity marked by the security of expanding b : 79% 74% 50% 64% economies and permanent employment, their children and grandchildren have come of age at a time when social safety nets are being undercut, employer loyalty is rare, and the prospect of economic ruin is but a bubble’s burst away. Standards of living have increased, but at a price that arguably includes environmental damage, a widening gap between rich and poor, and an increasingly contentious immigration debate.
15 Sign of the Times: The Global Revival of Survival Movies What’s a young person to do when his or her life (and world) seems scary and out of control? Go to a slasher flick or zombie movie, of course! In the past few years, survival movies have been all the rage among youth; titles include Dawn of the Dead (the remake), Land of the Dead, Shawn of the Dead (seeing a pattern here?), 28 Days Later, Hostel, yet another version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes, The Descent, Severance, Wolf Creek, Saw, and numerous others. The thinking goes that survival films help audiences face their fears and explore deep cultural anxieties. These films can put our everyday worries into perspective and, in some cases, reassure us of the virtues (and existence) of heroism, stoicism, quick thinking, and resilience. We can add to these stress factors a thundercloud quarter of candidates who submit perfect scores on of dangers — real and potential — that has loomed standardized aptitude tests (SATs). Once in college, over young people since they were in diapers: This some students are paying search firms thousands of is a generation that has come of age in an era of dollars to help them land unpaid summer internships. terrorist attacks. They’ve seen widespread panic, In Europe, an aggravating factor is the economic even hysteria, erupt over everything from anthrax context in which youth live — and expect to live for and mad cow disease to the much-feared avian flu. the foreseeable future. In certain suburbs of France, And they’ve watched as icons of business, sports, as many as 38 percent of youth under age 25 are politics, and even religion have been exposed for unemployed. In Spain, growing numbers of youth their corruption, deviance, and abuse of power. struggle with empleos basura (junk jobs) and are Also imprinted on youths’ psyches is an onslaught being pushed into the ranks of mileuristas (people of natural disasters, most recently including the living on €1,000 or less a month). Asian tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and the 2003 heat wave that took the lives of thousands of elderly Also chipping away at childhood: near-constant French. The impact of each of these disasters was exposure to messages about sex, drugs, and the magnified by the realization that the protections glam/gangsta life. Emotional and social milestones on which people once counted — whether they be are being passed at younger ages, and now puberty a rapid and effective government response, social (for reasons still being debated) is taking place safety nets, or technological measures— have proved earlier — as young as age eight for some girls. Boys wholly inadequate in the face of nature’s might. and girls alike are under intense pressure to live up Youth have seen ample evidence that when disaster to mostly unattainable ideals of beauty and talent, strikes, they can count on the protection of no and many judge themselves harshly when they fall one but themselves. If they wish to survive, they short. There’s also the pressure that comes from those must be the ones to put safeguards in place. boomer parents who prefer to act as “buddies” rather than as authority figures; it’s a phenomenon we call The prevalence of everyday stresses and larger PEERanting. Though it may be a relationship some concerns has given birth to a generation that kids and teens welcome, others find themselves in appears less focused on fun and frivolity than on flip-flopped roles in which they are almost expected getting ahead. The Survivor Generation has grown to act as the “grown-up” in the household — perhaps up in a world obsessed with finishing in first place. counseling single parents on dating, overseeing This is perhaps especially true in the U.S., where younger siblings, weighing in on major consumer members of the Echo Boom (b. 1982–1995) are faced and life choices, and so on. For some youths, the with unprecedented competition for academic and responsibilities are more than they can manage. other placements, beginning as early as preschool. This is partly a consequence of the generation’s sheer numbers, but it also reflects the evolution of college from an option to an expectation among the middle class and the fact that getting into the right one is seen as the closest one can get to an assurance of future security. Competition is so fierce that Harvard University now turns down a
16 Death to Peter Pan “Trust no one over 30.” growing up means growing old It was the mantra of the boomers’ youth, but it holds little relevance for the Survivor Generation. Today’s y : 19% 11% 25% 9% youth simply don’t have the authority issues their own parents had at their age. This is partly due to the fact that boomer parents tend to act more as friends than as stern authoritarians. But it’s also because the taking your responsibilities seriously Survivor Generation doesn’t equate being grown-up means becoming a duller person with being boring, closed-minded, or out of touch. To them, getting older holds the possibility of gaining more security; it’s not something to be feared or y : 10% 10% 12% 10% delayed. Fewer than one in four youth equate growing up with growing old (in France and the U.K., it’s closer to one in 10), and even fewer youth in most markets in the past three months, i valued sleep more highly than sex think taking one’s responsibilities seriously means becoming a duller person. Having been raised by “kidult” parents — fathers y : 39% 27% 15% 35% shooting hoops in Converse high-tops and mothers dressing in the manner of nymphet pop stars — the Survivor Generation views responsibility and maturity as positives, not as qualities to be held at bay. So at in the past three months, i bemoaned an age when young people might be expected to go the state of the country overboard with fun and newfound freedoms, they’re instead showing an inclination to get started on building their lives as bona fide “grown-ups”— not y : 40% 57% 57% 44% just as chronological adults. The Survivor Generation is even showing some tendencies that could be interpreted as downright middle-aged. We’ve come to expect youth to have in the past three months, i complained endless stamina and optimism, but in the three about modern life months prior to the survey, youth in three markets were more likely than the boomer samples to have valued sleep over sex and to have complained about y : 21% 43% 7% 22% modern life. And at least four in 10 youth in each market had bemoaned the state of their country. Not exactly the hallmarks of what we’ve come to know as youth. Evidence of a more serious mind-set can also be seen in the way members of the Survivor Generation describe themselves. When asked to choose which of a pair of self-descriptors better fits them, the youth samples almost invariably leaned toward the descriptor that is more “grown-up.” Looking at the “Workaholic vs. Slacker” pairing, for instance, we see youth in each country but France identify themselves as hardworking. This is especially the case in the U.S., where nearly eight in 10 youth reject the slacker label. Not surprisingly, youth across the markets were also significantly more likely to consider themselves “Stressed” than “Bored.”
18 The pattern is repeated in the “Reliable vs. Free Spirit” pairing. At an age when people might be The New Cool expected to be experimental and at least somewhat Despite what some Youthsurpers may think, it isn’t irresponsible, the youth in the sample were that today’s youth are less “cool” than the boomers considerably more apt to consider themselves reliable. were at their age; it’s that the Survivor Generation has And in perhaps the most telling pairing, youth in redefined what it means to be cool. The archetypes of every market but the U.K. chose “Cautious” as a self- alienated youth and slackers simply don’t work in the descriptor over “Daring.” current environment. In the 1960s and 1970s, young boomers could afford to be irresponsible because Whereas the boomers enjoyed the freedom to they knew their parents or other grown-ups would fix experiment and engage in youthful misadventures, whatever messes they made, and they’d have plenty of their children and grandchildren are already time to get serious about making a living down the road. weighing risks and considering the potential Dustin Hoffman’s character in The Graduate spent consequences of their actions. The phrase “halcyon days his post-college days lounging in his parents’ pool, of youth” no longer seems applicable. feeling free to turn up his nose at the notion of working in plastics — or any traditional job. Members of the Survivor Generation don’t have that luxury. “workaholic” describes me better than “slacker” They’re all too aware that if they don’t get into a good school or training program, or make a splash in sports or the arts, or develop an entrepreneurial pursuit right now, they may never be able to get on track. y : 79% 50% 65% 57% Youths’ focus on getting ahead and the seriousness with which they regard life (and safeguarding their place in it) can sometimes look a lot like conservatism “stressed” describes me better or a lack of imagination, but that’s really just because than “bored” their attitudes and behaviors are so sharply in contrast with what boomers have led us to expect of youth. The Youthsurper Generation gave us hippie festivals, y : 79% 75% 87% 56% love-ins, sit-ins, bra-burnings, Hair, and Woodstock. “Feeling good” was a perfectly acceptable life goal, and taking advantage of the freedoms wrought by the sexual revolution was pretty much mandatory for anyone who “reliable” describes me better than didn’t want to be branded as hopelessly square. “free spirit” Fast-forward 40 or so years, and it’s cool to be successful — to make money and have a lifetime of security and control. It’s still cool to be committed y : 83% 58% 82% 68% to social activism, but only if one’s working within the system. In a world that’s already uncertain and a little bit scary, the last thing this generation wants “cautious” describes me better is more disruption. They also don’t feel the need than “daring” to make sweeping statements about individuality, nonconformity, and personal freedoms because these things have never been denied them. Their fights y : 69% 64% 54% 47% are very different and in some ways more personal than the battles waged by boomer youth. Rather than trying to save the world through rebellion and protest, the Survivor Generation is simply trying to make a positive contribution, while also looking out for themselves.
19 Project Investment vs. Security Investment Euro RSCG’s qualitative studies have found youths’ savings accounts aren’t typically earmarked for a far-distant future. Rather, young people are saving up for personal investments — life experiences that will help shape themselves or their prospects. This might be anything from a spiritual retreat to a language-immersion program or cosmetic procedure. Much as they accumulate bonus lives in their video games, they see life as a succession of experiences they can tuck away. Money Matters Having lots of money is important to a majority This attitude is held by more than seven in 10 youths in of youths, particularly in the U.S. and France, the U.S., France, and the U.K., and by more than six in 10 in but that’s not necessarily so for what it can buy Spain. It’s a belief that can serve as a powerful motivator, as for the security it signifies. In an intensely but can also put youth at risk of regarding setbacks as competitive world, money represents a release personal failures. from the incessant pressure to excel and eliminates many day-to-day worries. So, whereas college-aged boomers took pride in their disdain (genuine or not) for capitalism and bourgeois attitudes, their children having enough money to live an and grandchildren view wealth as essential to safely affluent lifestyle is important to me navigating the challenges of their environment. For young people, it can be relatively easy to get by in the present without much money; it’s a lot harder b : 53% 92% 40% 49% to feel secure in one’s future without it. This helps to explain why we’re seeing relatively large percentages of youth in each market already saving for the long term. y : 73% 91% 57% 67% These young people know their only safety nets are the ones they construct for themselves, so they’re investing in their futures before it’s too late. i regularly save or invest for the It’s interesting to note the enormous percentages long term of youth who believe they have a moral obligation to support their aging parents in the future should the need dictate. This speaks volumes about their y : 58% 64% 36% 32% sense of responsibility and close relationships with their parents. Far fewer boomers accept the notion that adult children should support their parents in when seniors don’t have enough money to their old age. It’s difficult to know whether they’re l i v e o n , t h e i r a d u lt c h i l d r e n h a v e a m o r a l rejecting the notion that they should contribute to obligation to support them financially their own parents’ retirement in the immediate term, or whether they’re looking to absolve their children of the responsibility when the time comes. In either case, b : 53% 71% 78% 33% they’re not expressing the same sort of generational solidarity their children seem to feel. In such a competitive environment, it would be easy for youth to be cynical or resigned to a life at the bottom of y : 85% 78% 91% 80% the heap. Instead, members of the Survivor Generation are convinced of their own potential and the possibility of achieving their dreams. To a far greater extent than it’s possible to have it all in life; their boomer parents, they believe they can achieve it’s just a matter of going for it anything they desire, provided they pursue it with sufficient energy and determination. y : 71% 79% 64% 75%
Since 2003, BETC Euro RSCG hascreated global campaigns for Lacostethat have reinvigorated one of theworld’s top fashion and luxurybrands. Lacoste leverages its sportsheritage and timeless elegance toappeal to members of all generations. un peu d’air sur terrewww.lacoste.com
21 it is important the brands i buy reflect my age b : 14% 15% 20% 11% y : 33% 36% 27% 32% Rejection of Age Branding Now that age is just a mind-set and “youth” is self- defined, seniors massively reject age branding. Any messaging that suggests boomers are a discrete segment disconnected from youth is ill advised. In contrast, youth are somewhat more open to the notion of brands that reflect their age and life stage; many seek peer validation through the brands they buy and may respond well to brands that force a buffer between them and their aging hipster parents. What’s Next: Turnoffs for youth are likely to include messages of brainless fun or rebel cool; they’re simply not relevant Applying Cross- to the Survivor Generation. Both generations are more likely to respond to messages that promote such cross-generational values as freedom, creativity, and Aging Realities pleasure. And boomers in particular will respond to communications that value innovation, proactive stances, and health and wellness (how to keep/ to Brand Building improve/restore them). Brands that have done a good job of being simultaneously youthful and age-free include Nike and Apple, with their focuses on As a consequence of its massive size and wealth, self-realization and creativity, respectively. the baby boom generation (currently aged 43–61) has been a tantalizing target for marketers since the initial wave of boomers drew their first breaths — and Inclusive Design they’ll continue to be a target almost until they draw Boomers may insist on staying young forever, but their last. Just how powerful are they? In the U.K., their aging bodies are succumbing to the realities boomers are said to control fully 80 percent of the of the passing years. As a consequence, more and country’s wealth. In the U.S., boomers hold 50 percent more products will need to be redesigned to meet of all discretionary income and have an estimated the desires of a generation that refuses to grow up annual spending power in excess of $2 trillion. and leave its playthings behind. It’s a phenomenon Members of the Echo Boom (currently aged 12–25) affecting the makers of everything from designer jeans promise to have every bit as significant an impact as to bathtubs and automobiles. The BBC has reported, their baby boomer parents. In the U.S. alone, a total for instance, that the £400,000 Ferrari Enzo is being of 74.2 million babies were born during the manufactured with wider seats to accommodate Echo Boom, nearly equaling the 76.2 million middle-age spread and higher doors to spare creaky born during the original baby boom, but they’re knees. Mass-market clothing retailer Chico’s, a favorite concentrated within a 13-year period rather than the of U.S. boomers, has adopted a 0-to-3 sizing system so 18 years of the first baby boom. Echo boomers are customers don’t have to face the bitter truth of their currently estimated to have a combined spending actual sizes. power of $82.1 billion — a figure that will only While such marketing changes may be essential, increase as they age. elements of inclusive design should be subtle and, Members of each of these generations represent a in most cases, not communicated at all. No one wants diverse market with a broad array of priorities and to be reminded they’re growing old — least of all the financial states, but there are certain shared realities Youthsurper Generation. marketers would do well to keep in mind. Among them:
22 Ageless Dressing Boomer moms and their teen daughters are sharing clothes, but Euro RSCG qualitative research has found there are clear limits to what they’re willing to swap. In general, it’s fun casual wear such as designer jeans (if they’re both svelte) or Juicy Couture sweats rather than anything formal. And certain areas are off-limits: Mom isn’t shopping in the Juniors department for ultra-low-rise jeans and a baby T that reads, “Mrs. McDreamy” or “Don’t Be Jealous,” and her teen daughter isn’t shopping in the traditional Misses department filled with fuddy-duddy brands. They are shopping together in an entirely new department that likely didn’t exist a few years ago — a dressy casual section that has Juicy, Stella McCartney, Betsey Johnson, French Connection, Donna Karan, and the like. These are places where clothes are fun, practical, and ageless to a certain degree; anyone can wear them and not feel old or young, underdressed or overdressed. And Dad fits into this scenario, too: His weekend wardrobe is now cargo shorts and a T-shirt — not the walking shorts and polo of yesteryear — and could just as easily be seen on his teen or college-aged son.
23 AgeLESSness: Living Life out of Rise of Partner Brands Sequence In a world full of uncertainty regarding finances, health, global conflict, and other issues, consumers of “Acting your age” is now meaningless. There are all ages are looking for brand partners they can count plenty of 20-year-olds who act as we once would have on over the long term. This is particularly the case expected a 45-year-old to behave — and vice versa. for youth, who are seeking tools for survival and self- If you still look great in a miniskirt at age 40, should improvement. They want to partner with brands that you stop wearing it? Can a 17-year-old vying for a will help them solve their life issues —making them space at an elite college afford to be irresponsible look better, be regarded better, perform better, be or impulsive? more secure, and so on. Adding to the confusion is the freedom people now Another important factor for youth is control. have to create their own life sequences. People no Findings from the Cross-Aging survey and earlier longer join the workforce at age X, marry at age Y, and research by Euro RSCG suggest sense of control is an retire at age Z. One may retire at age 35 or embark on important generational divide. By and large, boomers a new career at 70. A new mom may be age 15 or 55. seem confident in their ability to control the course of And a first-year college student may have attended their lives, while youth are more apt to feel adrift — high school decades earlier. Certain age milestones or at least not yet set on a firm course that will ensure will always have relevance because of their legal their ultimate survival. ramifications (e.g., legal drinking/driving/voting age), but the rest are fluid and self-directed. This means Many young people today have the trappings of many consumers’ product and service needs and desires being grown up — including jobs and credit cards, are out of sync with what might be expected for their experience with sex and alcohol, and technological age groups. Targeting by age or life stage alone will fall know-how — but they don’t have the sense of short of the mark. control that would allow them to feel confident in their current choices or their future achievements. As a consequence, their lives are a series of coping À la Carte Shopping mechanisms: They cope with the pressure of school by Boomers don’t feel old — and surely don’t want to cheating. They cope with the pressure to win sports look old. For that reason, we’re seeing more people competitions or have a killer body by taking steroids. (women especially) eschewing complete wardrobes And they cope with the pressure to have sex by having from old-style retailers in favor of mixing and oral sex — which older adults think is more intimate matching pieces that let them show off their style: than intercourse, but which young people consider beaded tunics and peasant skirts from Forever 21, “sex lite.” It’s all about dealing with problems (real or colorful circle skirts and knit tops from H&M, and perceived) with the least amount of hassle. various other essentials wherever they can find them, Brands that are able to give youths a sense of control— from discount retailers to designer websites. and confidence they’re making the right choices — No matter their age, today’s shoppers tend not to have will be most highly valued. a favorite clothing retailer, a standard department store for household goods, or a short list of specialty stores; instead, they are willing to give a much broader array of retailers a look, with no pressure to make a transition from “young” stores to more age- appropriate stores as birthdays dictate. Smart retailers are accommodating various lifestyles and body types without tying themselves too closely to a single demographic.
24 Redesigning Reality i like text messaging on a mobile phone While boomers have always lived in a world that shapes itself to their needs and desires, youth have had to b : 18% 46% 70% 49% fight for every small gain. As a generation, one survival tactic they’ve adopted is creating an enhanced reality, including their own personalized virtual worlds. y : 67% 93% 93% 90% While boomers have jumped on the digital train (an invention largely of their own creation), they are analog immigrants, while youth are digital natives. The difference can be seen in the way the two generations perceive and use technology. For young i like multiplayer computer games over a network people, technology is less a tool than a lifestyle and an opportunity for creative expression. They use computers, cell phones, and other equipment to create virtual worlds in which they can get together b : 20% 29% 42% 20% with friends, meet new people, consume media and entertainment offerings, and organize their social existences. Whereas the real world is largely beyond y : 25% 46% 71% 63% their control, the virtual worlds they establish on MySpace, blogs, wiki collaborations, and so on can be fine-tuned to their liking — and exited at will. Boundaries don’t apply online: A person can interact i like instant chat/messaging with the world using a persona of his or her choice; most youth have created multiple identities through the use of different screen names, icons, and avatars. b : 34% 52% 57% 41% Whatever issues they may be facing at home or school, they can take pride in the number of people who link to their blogs, the number of stars accorded their YouTube videos, their accomplishments in Second y : 77% 83% 83% 82% Life, and the size of their buddy lists on MySpace. What does this mean for brands? Young consumers are spending a significant portion of their days in worlds of their own making. Brands that want to connect with them need to be in those worlds in a way that is both positive and welcome. A delicate balancing act is required to be perceived as contributing to the user experience rather than intruding upon it. The most successful brands in these spaces will be those that help consumers to express themselves, manage their virtual lives, connect with others, and gain access to new experiences — especially those that offer temporary transport to new realities. Consumers will also respond positively to those brands that help them make their virtual realities (what’s in their heads, dreams, and aspirations) real.
In late 2004, Euro RSCG NY became theAOR for Dos Equis. The first campaign,“The Most Interesting Man in theWorld,” debuted in April 2007 acrossTV, radio, print, OOH and digital.The impact has been phenomenal, withsales up 100 — 300% in some markets.
Euro RSCG has created provocativework for Evian for more than a decade.Shot by world-renowned photographerDavid LaChapelle, the “Evian-les-Bains”campaign speaks to the youthfulspirit of the brand.
Prosumer Reports is a series of thought leadership publications by Euro RSCG Worldwide – part of aglobal initiative to share information and insights, including our own proprietary research, across theEuro RSCG network of agencies and client companies.Euro RSCG Worldwide is a leading integrated marketing communications agency and was the firstagency to be named Global Agency of the Year by both Advertising Age and Campaign in the same year.Euro RSCG is made up of 233 offices in 75 countries and provides advertising,marketing, corporatecommunications, and digital and social media solutions to clients, including, Air France, BNP Paribas,Charles Schwab, Citigroup, Danone Group, Heineken USA, IBM, Kraft Foods, Lacoste, L’Oréal, Merck,PSA Peugeot Citroën, Pernod Ricard, Reckitt Benckiser, sanofi-aventis, and Volvo. Headquarteredin New York, Euro RSCG Worldwide is the largest unit of Havas, a world leader in communications(Euronext Paris SA: HAV.PA).For more information about Prosumer Reports, please visit www.prosumer-report.com or contactNaomi Troni, global chief marketing officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org.Follow us on Twitter @prosumer_report