DDB Mudra Group Releases Youth Report 2013


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DDB Mudra Group has released its maiden Youth Report themed on 'Beauty Money Sex Love Faith Substance', the six entities which most acutely influence the choices and aspirations of urban young Indians.

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DDB Mudra Group Releases Youth Report 2013

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  2. 2. CREDITS Curated by Samyak Chakrabarty Chief Youth Marketer DDB Mudra Group Editorial Team Design Team Harsha Malaney Vaspaan Dastoor Aakansha Kedia Priyanka Krishnan Aniket Sharma Unaiza Merchant Ankush Kale Neeharika Jaiswal Simran Hemrajani Trishla Kothari Maitri Shah Sneha Pawar Divya Unnikrishnan Devanshi Shah Anish Gupta Youth Advisory Board Karishma Dedhia Samiha Umbralkar Suraj Namboodiri Gargi Gupta Saurabh Kambil Rahul Maniar Inshia Slatewala Tanzila Merchant Pratik Gandhi Roshni Mogal Sushant Kamble Nildeep Mondal Andrew Jacquet Rohan Cooper Nihar Palwe
  3. 3. P ra ta p B o s e Chief Operating Officer, DDB Mudra Group Dear Industry Colleagues, As India is set to become the youngest country by 2020, it becomes inevitable for brands, right from beers to banks, to neglect this vital and powerful segment of our nation - the Youth. key thought processes and conversations that lead to form brand preferences. It focuses on some of those bevioural aspects of the youth that remain constant. A unique aspect of this report is that while it is ‘about the youth’, it is also The biggest challenge faced by brands ‘by the youth’. The content has been collated, structured and designed by a today lies in the sheer diversity and fast panel of forty urban 17-25 year olds paced transformation that takes place from across Indian metros. This was a within this age group. Data that is conscious decision made by us, so as important, or in today’s term ‘trending’, to ensure the information is raw and one day, becomes stale and outdated relevant, and not filtered in any way. the very next day, even before it is DDB Mudra Group’s role has been compiled. This makes it complex to primarily to curate the data collected pinpoint what would be the best way to and make this project come alive. engage with the youth. Hope you enjoy reading this, as much At DDB Mudra Group therefore, 'Youth' as we've enjoyed putting it together is a mindset and not necessarily only for you! defined by age, geography, economic and social class. This inaugural Youth Report will give you an insight into the
  4. 4. Samyak Chakrabarty Chief Youth Marketer, DDB Mudra Group It all began 6 months ago when I lost a major business pitch. The client expected us to suggest strategies which would make their brand ‘cool’ and help them ‘amplify’ their presence on social. My argument was that neither a million likes on Facebook nor ‘sexy creatives’ can translate into sustainable talk value. Marketers wrongly assume that quick fixes like celebrity endorsements, popular lingo, bright colors, fancy design and bombarding social media will do the trick. After reading most other reports on youth behavior, we realized that everyone is just scratching the surface. As Pratap rightly said, data expires before even it reaches print. Hence we decided to take a more academic approach which looks at youth beyond adjectives such as ‘screenagers’, ‘diginatives’ and ‘Gen Y’. We wanted to present an understanding which is more permanent and can aid in build- ing long term brand strategy. The first and most valuable learning was that ‘Youth’ cannot be defined or boxed into traditional SECs. I was surprised to see a 21 year old in Dharavi with the latest iPhone he bought after moonlighting at a call centre and another of the same age living in a Bandra highrise using Nokia Asha. This set the context for a break-through in how brands can look at youth, we arrived at 5 “fluid mindset archetypes”,an understanding of how a 18-25 year old shapes his/her brand preferences irrespective of where he/she lives and earns. Using this approach our next discovery was how trend setters become who they are and how an otherwise unstructured medium – Word of Mouth can be artificially regulated to ensure the message effectively trickles down. The power of “Offline social networks” is immense and untapped.
  5. 5. Section 1
  6. 6. The 5 Big One of the greatest challenges to access the minds of India’s urban young is to be able to cut through the social, economic and cultural diversities as they often end up creating confusion. We were amazed to find students who did not appear to be able to afford it using an Apple iPhone VS an obvious SEC A using the cheapest available handset. While perhaps it would conventionally be prudent to assume that (for a 30+ year old) a luxury purchase with a price tag of INR 30,000 to INR 50,000 would be a product meant for only the higher income brackets but such an understanding often fails when it comes to the Under 25 year olds. After an exhaustive analysis of complex spending patterns and brand preference matrixes, we conclude that it is in fact impossible to give an exact definition to ‘urban youth’ other than the age. While adjectives such as ‘Gen Y’, ‘Diginatives’ and ‘Screenagers’ sound exciting, they are nothing but modern age jargons used to disguise a lack of a definitive understanding. Given the increase in number of influencing factors and choices – preferences / buying behavior will always be variable and inconsistent. One thing which can be said though is that those born post 1988 are extremely moody people. At one level they are very sure of what they want to do in the long run, but on another there is immense amount of confusion and parallel thought flow. Again it is the number of options available and continuous bombardment of information through new media to blame. 9 out 10 decisions are made based on the prevailing environment and frame of mind. Therefore, the route we took is to understand these different and frequent mood swings to be able to get a better insight into what factors actually play a pivotal role in shaping preferences and actual buying decisions. Such an approach takes us back to the basic fundamentals into the workings of a human mind because it is only that which remains constant. Tools like Facebook behavior or current buying trends will only give a superficial understanding and such information will expire before you even begin to implement any strategies based on those! 1 What is about to follow in this section are 5 mindsets (read: mood) which exist in every Young Indian born post 1988 living in metro cities. Each gets triggered based on the type of decision and plays a critical role in influencing choice. What is most interesting though is that while these five exist in all, their intensity varies in different people according to the product category. This causes people to develop a certain kind of attitude towards different product categories which remains constant. So therefore while A could have a ‘Passionista mindset’ towards Food & Beverages but can look at gadgets from a ‘Kite mindset’. This would then also make it easy to identify influencers amongst peer groups for brands. For example, someone who is known to have a dominant ‘Label mindset’ would be an influencer for fashion and lifestyle related purchases. To understand this model better, try a simple exercise after the end of this part - pick any one brand/product of your choice (preferably a gadget or an automobile) and look at it from the perspective of each of these five – you will notice how youngsters perceive the same product so differently.
  7. 7. The Passionista The key words here are ‘instinct’ and ‘emotion’. Someone who transforms into a Passionista while making decisions would base judgment purely on feelings often also defying strong logic. Perhaps this would explain why a guy who can’t afford something still manages to work hard and gathers resources enough to acquire it. The driving factor here is essentially the love or even sometimes obsession for something. Utility takes a back seat. Such a mindset can be related to products like mobile phones, automobiles, food and entertainment. For example we found a large number of college students who saved up on about a month’s pocket allowance to be able to buy a 3 day Sunburn Goa ticket in 2012. The strong craze for Electronic Dance Music fueled this austerity by which even their middle class parents were appalled. It has been found that people who frequently think from their heart are most loyal to specific brands and will continue their engagement with it despite newer attractive (and maybe more affordable) propositions. This would explain why most youngsters stuck to their good old mobile service providers despite MNP (Mobile number portability) becoming a reality, the churn was way lower than expected from this age group. Infact this is also the reason why we think the Apple iPhone will continue to remain the most aspirational mobile handset for a very long time. It’s cousins in this space would have to something very ground breaking at a product as well as a brand level to try and dilute the love youngsters have for it. 2
  8. 8. 3 The Racehorse It’s always about being the first in everything he/she does. Such as state of mind is active in people who are generally very motivated, aggressive and competitive in nature. They would buy the latest pair of shades only with the intent of being the first one in their group to posses it or study exceptionally hard with the sole intent of achieving the highest rank. Brands / products that transport them into the top rung are a huge favorite. Words like ‘exclusivity’, ‘winning’ and ‘limited edition’ are arousing. This also means that many a times one’s own true desire / choice is suppressed for something that would enable them to cross the finish line first! Categories like Education, Mobile Handsets, Nightclubs, and Computers etc must thank this aspect of the buying behavior of certain individuals for creating initial traction. A racehorse mindset proves to be the fiercest and demanding of all consumers as he/she is continuously looking for something new. They are also extremely powerful influencers for they are recognized in their peer groups for being an early adopter across most product categories. For example, one would notice that SUVs are extremely popular amongst youngsters in comparison to luxury sedans of the same price band. This is because the overall aura of this automobile type is fast, strong and dynamic which are also qualities of a racehorse mindset. This effect then trickles down the pyramid and other youngsters also start choosing options like Mahindra XUV, Renault Duster and Honda CRV over a Volkswagen Vento, Chevrolet Cruz and Honda City.
  9. 9. This is perhaps the most superficial side of a youngster. All decisions are completely based on the badge value of a product. Unlike someone who thinks likes a racehorse, here it’s not about being the first but rather being the ‘coolest’. Making a statement is essential and therefore only those brands/products will be chosen who enable them to be noticed and be talked about. Surprisingly while one would assume that this would be relevant to largely women and fashion products – we noticed that even men think like labels when it comes to computer games, perfumes, cars, alcoholic beverages etc. Interestingly, a lot of students prefer ac- The Label cepting placement offers from companies that have a big brand name even at the cost of compromising on salary. And this is not in consideration of future prospects, but primarily because it’s a good logo on the business card which will be shared amongst friends at the graduation party. Another finding indicates that 6 out of 10 purchases in such cases are ‘fake’. One of our respondents stated during a discussion, “Both the real and fake jeans are made in China, then why unnecessarily pay a premium as long as the logo is there!” This also gives an insight that in general young people are extremely functional and practical. The Shiny Disco Ball If someone thinks like a Shiny Disco Ball, He / She is an optimist and will be open to try different things just for the experience. Being highly exploratory in nature, they will not critically analyze a product / brand and will buy it if the decision makes them happy. While one could draw similarities to being a Passionista, however choices are not based on love or an emotional connect with the brand – here feelings are more internal. Communication that is cheerful and lively will attract those who generally wear this frame of mind. We find that in general, most youngsters prefer to remain in this state of mind when it comes to day to day decisions like recreation and entertainment. In fact it is also often used as tool to escape stressful matters. The popular phrase “YOLO – You live only once” has become a way of living for most college goers at least for the first two years. However, this way of thinking is more applicable to decisions pertaining to living life rather than brands / products at large. 4
  10. 10. The Kite 5 When someone does not think like a Passionista, Label, Racehorse or a Shiny Disco Ball – he thinks like a ‘Kite’. Those in this state of mind prefer to follow others when it comes to buying decisions. Each peer group has a trend setter for different products and the rest become kites hence would form a majority in number for any product. This is either because of their lack of knowledge about a certain brand/product category or they prefer to be plain lazy. Kites play an important role in making something into a mass public phenomena. However since they do not display qualities of loyalty or consistency, they can also be the reason for a brand to completely lose its youth connect. One of the primary reasons why Blackberry which at one point was the most popular handset in campuses is not as much in conversation these days is because the influencers for it started reducing and kites therefore started moving to the new thing that was being talked about. You would find that majority of youngsters think in this manner when it comes to choices like Mobile Handsets, Books, Restaurants, Travel etc where it is essential to make an informed decision (in this case, information which an opinion leader has gathered!).
  11. 11. Section 2
  12. 12. 7 Beauty Money LOVE FaithSex Substance As already discussed in the previous section, urban young Indians do not have a singular decision making formulae. In order to better understand their different perspectives to varied situations, we have filtered the insights into six main frames which are -Beauty-MoneySexuality-Love- Faith- Substance. This section is an exploration of the 6 entities that most acutely influence the actions, choices and aspirations of urban young India. If looked collectively, it will reveal how interrelated they are and the lives of those born post 1988 are completely controlled by them.
  13. 13. BEAUTY “It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.” - Leo Tolstoy
  14. 14. 11 The Branded and The Beautiful The India of small, bustling marketplaces is being slowly, but surely phased out in an attempt to accommodate the concept of a ‘Global India’. With the geniuses behind branding cracking the code to increasing desirability of products with small yet significant symbols of affiliation, brand consciousness has taken the front stage. It also makes for interesting conversations where the youth love to discuss and flaunt everything they own including sneakers, to increased storage capacities on their MP3 players. “Haven’t you seen an LV bag? The whole point of it is to show off the LV logo. That’s why I’d pay twenty thousand rupees for it. Bags in that size and colour are all over the place, but what I’m not going to get off the road is the logo.” said 23 year old Sonali Patnaik, a fashion student from New Delhi. This need to sport brands gets manifested into conversations within young social circles significantly. Indulging in a purchase that is outside of that which has gained social acceptance disqualifies you from the ‘in’ group right away. One may go to a government run insti- tution to study but if he/she is carrying a high end phone from a desirable brand, he becomes a part of a social circle he would never have otherwise been a part of. This choice that is out of the ordinary elevates one’s social status, and modifies the portrayal of one’s being. The wide spectrum of brands plays a large role in this behavioral pattern of the youth. For instance, in the sporting sphere, there exists separate brands that provide trekking gear, fitness gear and there’s also one dedicated strictly to passionate athletes. About ten years ago, one would have bought a pair of shoes that served all three purposes. Similarly, there are brands that provide ‘casual’ Indian clothes and brands that provide ‘formal’ Indian clothes. Individuals have invariably identified the hierarchy of brands in the market and have attributed the best qualities to the most popular and invariably, the most expensive ones. Importance placed on product quality has been slashed, with the tag becoming a more central aspect. The localization of the world market in urban spaces has reduced the proximity between the consumer and the brand. If one’s cousin flies down from London wearing a jacket of a certain brand, it is no longer aspirational for him/her. Since they’re now readily available and within reach of the youth, these goods don’t have to be specially flown in from abroad, piggybacking on yet another relative who may be visiting. This extends to online shopping just as well with ecommerce websites retailing brands that aren’t yet within our immediate reach. Lastly, the soaring sales of certain brands can be attributed to the kind of ‘image’ they are selling. If a brand is selling the image of rock-star through its clothes, their primary market would be people involved in music and bands. In essence, brands have started narrowing down their target audiences to make room for niche product offerings that this audience is prone to purchasing. Wearing a certain brand speaks oodles about one’s personality, so the youth find expressing themselves through this variety of brands they sport, a convenient and appealing means of expression.
  15. 15. 13 Judge A Book By Its Cover A continual exposure to the west has made the Indian youth identify with, and relate to western ideas of beauty. An emerging social hierarchy has been based entirely on looks, with the most ‘good looking’ lot at the top. Having said that, the expectations from those at the top of the pyramid are extremely high too. As one traverses down the pyramid, sadly, there are higher chances of him/her getting written off as being average in terms of performance. Adding to this list of unfortunate findings is the fact that even failure is perceived on the basis of a person’s looks. ‘Ordinary’ individuals are excused from erring, while someone who otherwise sports an outstanding personality and coupled with good looks has to bear the brunt of an exaggerated failure. Good looks work as both a boon and a bane for the urban Indian youth. Individuals are socially conditioned into believing this to be true and thus, instilling such a sense of judgement amongst the youth. While the ‘ordinary’ are not ostracized per se, for either an excess of a few pounds here and there, or for showing up with ugly shoes, this works very contrastingly for a person blessed with good looks. He/she is constantly placed under the scanner to a greater extent if he/she deviates from a socially constructed idea of perfection. The very last repercussion of judgment based on a social appearance is the stereotypes that emerge as a result of this mindset, that tend to get passed on from generation to generation, thus embedding these thoughts into our very fabric.
  16. 16. 15 Gym = Style > Health The last decade has been witness to a steep rise in number of enrollments at fitness centres, and these mostly constitute youngsters aged between 16 and 28 years. These youngsters are quite health conscious with steadfast dedication towards working out. Less stressful jobs and encouraging home environments allow the youth to allot a few hours every week towards maintaining their bodies. A certain personality and image has developed around said fitness centres, pushing more and more youngsters to procure a membership so that they can be ‘in on’ what’s cool too. A rapid increase in the involvement of the youth in health clubs illustrates that the youth are becoming more conscious of their physical appearance. To reinforce this, gyms also advertise themselves by distributing pamphlets replete with images of able bodied men and women flashing broad smiles. While it may be ‘healthier’ for an overweight person to lose weight, the motive behind this person joining the gym would be to fit into clothes from her favourite brands. Gyms are growing in popularity because being fit implies being more desirable. “I need to put on some weight. That’s why I use the gym. I think I look too lanky. I don’t like looking younger than I am. It means no girl my age will be interested in me.” says Adriel George of Bandra, Mumbai. “I’d love to carry off a bikini.” boasts 25 year old Yashada, who is a lawyer and a regular at her local gym. “I alter all my tuition timings so that I get the instructor I want, but I never miss gym, not a single day a week.” said H. Choksey, a twelfth grade student from Mumbai. This rapidly expanding movement of early interest in health has had other repercussions as well. Different kinds of recreational activities have begun to surface to cater to the youth segment. On an average, there exists a yoga or kickboxing instructor within a 2km radius of any locality. The option of a jog in one's neighborhood park is grossly simple as compared to a professional coming home to train you. The popularity of gyms has also extended to new real estate plans which are now forced to allocate space for health centers within societies. The involvement in a health club of some sort now renders anyone and everyone a fitness expert. This topic now is a com- mon feature in most conversations and quick tips about staying fit are commonplace in social gatherings. The most recent development in this aspect is that about 12% of the youth are now seriously considering becoming health instructors. Chartered accountants, assistant directors and even people from hospitality have now grasped the potential of the health industry and see a prospective career in it. It is no longer uncommon to spot a collegemate who studied in your class and has now settled into a convenient routine of freelancing as a yoga/meditation teacher/ 'consultant' in the evenings, or an economics major teaching salsa at a studio. The interest in health has birthed a whole new segment in the food sector as well. The steady advancement of the organic foods industry goes hand in hand with the boom in the health industry. From nutritional supplements to natural tonics, herbal oils to green tea, everything finds a niche in the youngster’s kitchen. The reach of an organic diet has now spread to cafes and restaurants that have a whole section dedicated to healthy food.
  17. 17. 17 Facebook Kya Kahega? Social networking was conceived as a means to enhance already existing social relationships, to help connect with people one already knew and to find associations that were lost in the age of landline-phones and postal services. Urban society approached this new platform of connectivity with a lot of enthusiasm, which was most notable amongst the youth. However, this may have resulted in a nation full of youngsters who exhibit immense confidence via their virtual personalities, but not in reality. The youth has also understood the magnitude of the effect of a 'social' profile on the general perception of him/her, therefore, he/she chooses what he/she would like to perceived about him/her. The array of options to customize have rendered the youth free to upload selective information, conceal and exaggerate, manipulate and magnify. “I do commercial work for Bollywood films all the time. Your run-of-the-mill item numbers are not uncommon to me. But there's no way in hell I would upload that as my own work because I would really like to showcase my independent work online, I don’t want anyone to categorize me as a 'Bollywood' producer”', says Jason D'Souza of Bangalore, a successful 28 year old music producer. Virtual access to information has merged it with all other kinds of information deduced from real life. Social networks are the new guide-book for the youth segment - they have begun to stand for the ‘truth’. One doesn’t need to explicitly mention their relationship status when a mere profile image can reveal much more than needed. Sadly, their identities are very closely associated to their virtual portrayals of themselves, and these could be drastically different from their real selves, which again leads to constant misrepresentations of individuals where a person could be perceived to be very popular based on the likes their profile picture gets, while in real life, they may be extremely introverted and friendless for all practical purposes. Similarly, if one observes that another has several friends, they are automatically considered to be social butterfly. Goes without saying that this friend list could constitute family, coworkers and other people one may not have interacted with, but the credibility lent by a single number is enormous. An online profile also gauges one's intellect. If a person shares interesting, knowledgeable information, they are viewed as the intelligentsia, and people even go on to assume their educational backgrounds based on such analyses. Additionally, redundant information regarding whereabouts of an individual who one may not be in touch with are also at display, unlike in the past when one is only in touch with one’s closest friends.
  18. 18. MONEY “Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.” - Oscar Wilde
  19. 19. 21 Roti, Kapda Aur Macbook Today’s college graduates and working professionals in India possess a very unique, motley set of needs and wants. Three square meals, eight to ten pairs of clothes and a comfortable home are essentials that are taken for granted by this young population, while their list of needs really begin at a much higher level. For instance, internet enabled smart phones are now a bare necessity, a vital, basic need. The very definition of bare essentials has now expanded to accommodate several other objects of desire that have been promoted from being wants to being just needs. Much credit goes to the media for having generated and portrayed these objects, thus elevating their significance in our lives. The very fundamentals have been altered because of this change in perspective. Therefore, in place of a regular degree from a government college, one needs an education abroad to widen his prospects. In place of a regular pair of jeans, one needs a fashionable, well-tailored pair from an expensive store to look good enough. The needs of an individual stem from what helps him survive and what makes him secure. Since a social image is a direct reflection of this individual, he/she moulds himself/herself in a manner that aligns his/her true self to their social self. The hierarchy of needs has now widened to make room for ‘wants’ just as well, granting both needs and wants equal priority. The paradox here comes into being when one notices that this inclination to indulge renders the young individual unable to save and barely able to survive towards the end of the month, when his salary is virtually negative. “I can't eat out for the rest of the month because I bought a brand new video game and flat screen television for my room. It's alright, I can eat at home too. Sacrificing a few hamburgers here and there is not a big deal.”, said Rahil Kakar, 25 year old PR Executive from Calcutta, when he was asked about how many times a week he likes to eat out in spite of having a hired cook at home. Having said that, the fact of the matter remains that youngsters today spend their money more liberally, contrasting very starkly with the way their parents handle the same. The soaring independence in young people today can be explained by the security that they enjoy from their careers. The obligation to save and provide for a future family isn’t felt. Even young married couples splurge money that’s earned jointly on these newly defined ‘needs’, with an additional privilege of spending more than they could have by themselves. It is estimated that 100% of married women will enroll themselves in the workforce within the next 20 years, while the figure stands at 35% at present. With soaring buying power, and the freedom to spend and consume, the youth has oversimplified their basic needs, rendering them commonplace so much so that simply ‘Roti, Kapda Aur Makaan' are just not enough.
  20. 20. 23 The Substitute Life In a country which has enjoyed a reputation world over for having survived the recession because of its meticulous saving habits, the youth are truly trying to defy this very image. The fundamentals of saving have drastically changed across generations. The ratio of expenditure to savings is drastically different from before; a generous amount having been apportioned towards expenditure. The desire for the final benefit from the end product is far stronger than it used to be. For instance, one may pick a cheaper bar to visit, but the desire for a beer is the driving force behind this, not the need to call on the services of a bar. Evidently, expenditures and today’s ‘needs’ have a direct correlation. The youth adopt short-term saving plans to maneuvers around their escalated needs. Basically, the motive behind saving money has changed because youngsters don’t mind putting in eighty-hour weeks to earn bucketfuls of money just so they can blow it up on grooming themselves or indulging on expensive meals. The security and stability the youth receives from their family is be- lieved to have spurred this change in spending habits. Working parents and increased desirability of products in the market have been largely responsible in shaping the youth's spending patterns. A fluctuation has been noticed in the graph of the youth's willingness to spend over the last decade. The value of money is perfectly understood and the value of its various barters is understood just as well. What makes this transaction smooth is that the youth take immense pride in their ability to plan and execute. The youth tries to balance their desires by pruning and prioritizing, with their expenses that are accordingly rationed. “Cutting down a little is not a problem.” says Shaili Mehta, a young graduate from an East Coast University who loves to dress well and own the best shoes. Compromise has become a way of life for the young urban spender: he/she aims at living life king size, until the very last penny is spent. The last ten days of the month maybe spent in utter poverty, but the first twenty will be spent really living it up. In conclusion, the youth of today share a very objective relationship with money – while possessing a lot of it will ensure a smooth, good life, not having enough is not a situation that they can’t cope with.
  21. 21. 25 The Rise of The Cult With countless educational institutions churning out a sea of professionals every year, the job scene in India has taken a massive beating. It is not uncommon for a banker to run out of banks to apply to, to no avail, and for a science graduate to not find a reputable teaching or research profession. As a result, the youth has begun exploring career options within what we previously perceived to be hobbies. For example, professions like hair styling, tattooing, performing live (as musicians or stand-up comedians) have gained considerable momentum in the last decade, more so amongst the urban youth. Even the parents of this generation of the young are very supportive and view such options fairly objectively. This may have risen from the simplification in family structures. Nuclear families are more independent, and open to unconventionality, thus accommodating and supportive of their child's interest in unusual career choices. Even though they belong to a generation which placed a lot of importance on lucrative professions such as engineering or medicine, they seem to easily grasp the need for deviant professions too. It can be safely estimated that the number of people choosing unconventional professions will rise from a fourth to more than half of the urban youth. While deviant professions were awarded a cult status previously, today it’s quite run of the mill, and even sensible to branch out into niche options. Cult professions are halfway through to assuming the title of 'mainstream'. Initially, even the society disregarded these professions. However, the truth of the matter remains that several full-fledged professions have emerged from these very hobbies. Not only is it more practical to opt for an alternative (albeit unusual) moneymaking option, such talent is actually celebrated and sought after. From good haircuts to immaculate artwork on one’s skin, ‘cult’ professions are both encouraged and considered plausible career options now. Apart from being lucrative options, these also allow one to live a life outside of their work since they’re not restricted by 9-5 corporate jobs. Cult professions fit perfectly into the slowly emerging desire for freelance work. Ten years from now, the corporate structure indicates that at least 60% per cent of all work will be outsourced to freelancers. “I hope to open up my own hair institute in a few years”, said 25 year old Pratiksha Jain of Juhu, Mumbai who after working for small hair studios around the city, has invested in a small set up in her own home. Similarly, Ruchika Vyas of Mumbai, who studied fashion journalism in a leading institute in London and came back to successfully style independent feature films, is now simultaneously running a cookie-business. “It gets difficult but I’m passionate about both, my choice of major (fashion journalism) and my hobby- why not invest my time and potential in both?” Deviant professions have become an expression of individuality. Many a successful hair-stylist and baker have proved that they do not need to fall into conventional career brackets to taste success.
  22. 22. 27 Grow Me The Money - Now! “Saving” and cautious spending have been an integral part of the Indian way of life. Unlike a few decades ago, there is always a beeline of wealth management companies offering a plethora of propositions to multiply ones earnings. Each one trying to outshine the other, just like cola companies! One would then assume that if born in such a time, the young too would be an important target market for financial service providers as they are for mobile handsets, beers, fashion and gizmos. However in reality, words like ‘Mutual Funds’, ‘Equities’ and ‘Financial management’ are in the same category as ‘attendance and ‘exams’ - scary! This is not to say in the least that they do not understand the value of money; on the contrary, they understand it best. This is because they are completely aware about their needs and wants and understand the magnitude of work that would be required to fulfill the same. Nevertheless, their cynicism towards ‘conventional’ saving has much to do with their short term goals and their urge to constantly stay in motion and not stagnate. The youth of today are hampered by a kind of short-sightedness- an ‘investment’ which requires them to commit themselves for three or more years seems bizarre to them. “I don’t even know if I’ll be here and what I’ll be doing in one year year from now.” said Hridaye Nagpal, a young filmmaker from Delhi, when asked about his views on long-term fixed deposit schemes. When a group of fresh MBA graduates in Mumbai were asked if they do any kind of research before they make their investments, they responded with an array of answers: “I think they’re all the same. All these private sector banks are out to steal from you.” “‘I only trust government schemes; at least they won’t suddenly close shop and run off with my money.” “I do some research about who gives the best interest rate. But the paper work to shift from my current bank is too cumbersome.” Youngsters are in fact up for saving and doubling their money; but they could not be bothered to do it themselves. Just as one gave their ‘Diwali money’ to their parents to ‘put away safely’, young professionals and college students are more enthusiastic about trusting a family member or a known broker to handle their money than dabble in it themselves. “All I had to do was give my broker about five documents; now he calls me every month and tells me how much of a percentage I’ve earned on my initial capital” said Tanay Pais, a graphic designer from Bangalore. The re-articulation of the word ‘saving’ has much to do with the perspective the youth adopts to banking schemes. Their ‘saving’ has to do with short term goals like purchasing a car or taking a long bachelor’s trip. They are not concerned with a pension or a retirement plan; the ‘carpe diem’ principle governs the minds of the youth today so ‘twenty years’ from now is the least of their concerns. Therefore, what they are looking for really are two key things (a) A product which reduces the load of their burden at the same time uses technology to keep them updated about their money and (b) information which is provided in a very relatable and simple style.
  23. 23. SEX “Sex without love is a meaningless experience, but as far as meaningless experiences go its pretty damn good.” - Woody Allen
  24. 24. 31 Let’s Do It This Way Sex has always been misconstrued to be the most unclean, unholy act by every rule defining body to date. The only knowledge that one could gather would be through hearsay, sex awareness drives in educational institutions that for all practical purposes commands people to abstain from it, and if all else fails, parents. The youth today have the powerful resources at their very fingertips, assimilating information from the internet, movies, TV shows and even ad films. Sex has been overtly glamourized resulting with the youth believing only what they see. Deodorant commercials exemplify this thought by overplaying the sex quotient that one gains by simply spraying the deo, a fact that has scientific backing, but who’s asking. Even condom commercials make the act of sex seem extremely mysterious and enticing, while the truth of the matter is that the feeling is all but a natural human instinct. The portrayal of sexual relationships and the politics of intimacy in ‘reel’ life have trickled into social interactions as well. As a result, these ad films inadver- tently end up justifying several kinds of behavior and choices, such as womanizing and redefining beauty to mean size zero. Our opinions of sex are undergoing a radical change, with conflict of ideas presented to us by our religion on one hand, and advertising on the other. With video content consumption on the rise, youngsters are increasingly aping and reenacting that which they see on screen. The positive influence, however, has come in from the same medium. With films and other manifestations and expressions dealing with sex in artistic, graceful ways, the inquisitive youth has been exposed and enlightened. The act is not thought of as a wrongdoing or anti-religion in any way, anymore, amongst the youth. On the flip side, sex is also constantly overplayed and is thought of as a near inimitable act that requires perfection of both the mind and the body. In conclusion, the youth seeks the story that media has created around sex. Sex is glamourized to such a level that the real act may never live up to the fantasy in their mind.
  25. 25. 33 Spread The Love For a country only recently released from the burden of the criminal treatment of homosexuality, the youth is surprisingly influenced by this socio-political move. The perception of the LGBT community has transformed completely over the last five years. Because it was regarded a criminal offence, any indication on the part of an individual which suggested an alternate sexuality was countered with severe stigmatization. At times, the extreme attitudes would result in physical abuse of the individual. Religious beliefs and norms of conformity dictated therein further fuelled this attitude and they used it as the basis for justifying their behavior. When the Decriminalization of Homosexuality Act was passed, it ushered a new era of awareness and feminist thought in the country. The youth began to understand and accept alternate sexuality and opposed homophobia, a characteristic feature subscribed to by the previous generation. Their common belief lay in respecting personal preferences and not using them as a factor indicating an individual’s self worth. The youth’s distaste for communal conflicts equaled their distaste for homophobia and regarded it to be vicious and point- less.With an increasing number of youth involved in political and social activism, the rights of the LGBT community gained prominence. Many chose to crusade for the cause and started identifying and subsequently opposing the line that separates ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’. Samira Major (27 years), an Editor from Kolkata, says, “Just because it is unusual, does not mean it is abnormal”. The supporters of LGBT rights choose to express their support by participating in the parades to a tune of about 40% of the total participation. They are actively involved in spreading awareness for the cause and make time for events fighting for the cause over weekends. From making posters and public graffiti to participating in online forums, the youth is supporting rights for the LGBT community. There are stores stocking up on merchandise such as the symbolic rainbow as a mark of support for the LGBT community rights. The youth encourage their apprehensive gay or bisexual friends to shut out their fears and ‘come out’ with their parents and social circles. The youth do not discriminate between a ‘straight’ and an ‘alternate’ when they choose their social circles. Sexual orientation of a person is not a factor that influences the youth to befriend or shun an individual. An acceptance of alternate sexualities has broadened the scope for the definition of what was traditionally considered ‘normal’. The attitude of the west towards homosexuality and the recent development with regard to gay marriages have proved to be a trigger point for the youth to reflect on the irrational inequality that the country maintained five years ago. Homosexuals find representation in popular TV which find an enormous audience base in our country. Their openness about their sexuality has also furthered the youth’s mindset to accept and respect personal preferences. From the generation of the past condemning homosexuality, a few celebrities have come forward and accepted their alternate sexualities publicly. Finding solace in the progress being made, traditional norms are being challenged vehemently, shackles are being broken and a path is being paved to lead the world into a more tolerant, more respectful and a more dignified society.
  26. 26. 35 The S Word Not very long ago, the ‘s’ word was uttered only in private conversations and away from the prying eyes of that pesky neighbor aunty out of fear of social ostracization. An intimate scene on a theatre screen or lewd imagery on posters was prone to garner a giggle, a hushed whisper, or even the occasional telepathic eye contact. For all practical purposes, sex didn’t exist. Today the tables have turned with the youth being bolder and upfront than ever. Irrespective of having indulged in the act or not, youngsters have seamlessly included sex into their everyday conversations. Further, the inclination towards a sexual relationship is now far more than was noticed among the Indian youth even ten years ago. The Indian society’s unwritten rules of courtship required a person to first court a new person, then marry them and finally, have sex. Youngsters today completely disregard this process, and for good reason. They’re not religious and think with a scientific bent of mind. One of the primary factors for the conservative treatment of sex ten years ago was the big ‘V’ word - Virginity. ‘Virginity’ is not celebrated anymore like most religious communities of yesteryear did; the more ‘experience’ one gathers, the more satisfied they are. The idea of ‘purity’ does not figure in this equation at all. “Having sex before marriage is certainly not a ‘sin’! That’s just ridiculous!”, said Shivangi Gupta, a 24 year old copywriter from Mumbai. “I understand that there’s right and wrong. Where does sinning come into the picture?”. The gradual distancing away from religion and the viewing of such concepts in a completely objective manner is also reflected in conversations that the youth dabble in. It was a rather embarrassing deal for someone in his/her early twenties to be seen purchasing a pack of condoms or a contraceptive pill ten years ago. The packaging was always opaque, and instantly tucked far from sight. That’s barely the case today where condoms are freely available even in modern format outlets at billing counters for easy access. Even the English language was equipped with euphemisms replacing the word itself such as ‘the big nasty’ or ‘the deed’. The young urban mind perceives sex to be independent of any political or social implication. It is looked upon as a personal choice that one has the right to make and is almost wrong to be judged for. Morality doesn’t feature in this absolutely simple equation. Sex is now almost as spontaneous a decision as is deciding to go out for a drink. In fact, sex is a stepping stone towards commitment. Once compatibility at all levels is checked, commitment is given a thought. Hence, sex is one of the few initial moves and commitment becomes the ‘last act’. A rising number of youngsters have now admitted that they first gauge sexual compatibility with their partners and then take the plunge. “Of course sex is important. Why would I want to be with someone who doesn’t make me happy in bed as well? If our chemistry in the bedroom does not excite us, there’s no point of progressing it into an emotional relationship.” says Andrew Fernandes, a young independ-
  27. 27. 37 The S Word ent film maker from Kolkata. From dividing their considerations into the first, second and final sexual acts, the youth has split their attention to two categories – the casual relationships and the serious relationships. While the latter can have both emotions and sex, the former only involves sex. The very phrase ‘no strings attached’ definitely finds relevance amongst the youth of India today. It is commendable that the youth of today is able to make friendships work sans having to deal with any awkwardness created by an act of sex. Being sexually active with someone in no way connotes that one is emotionally bound to them. Even the idea of gender has been re-articulated in contemporary Indian society, and is viewed of as a social construct. More aware, literate youths now see a blurring of lines between what is regarded ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’. Multiple sexual partners are not dismissed as being reserved to the promiscuity of men – women are only a marginal number away from the number of sexually active men. Co-educational schools and colleges have encouraged a platonic relationship between men and women, making that social space comfortable and the people, accessible.
  28. 28. LOVE “Where there is love there is life.” - Mahatma Gandhi
  29. 29. 41 Family Back At Numero Uno The twentieth century definition of a family constituted the inclusion of one’s extended family to create one, large joint family. Urbanization orchestrated the disintegration of that unit into nuclear families. With the times, the fundamental fabric of family changed too. Indian parents no longer engaged in straightening out their children the old fashioned way, with a beating or two. A different kind of relationship is now encouraged between parent and child which is that of friendship. The options to go abroad for further studies and the ease of applying for educational loans has lifted the pressure on the academic expectations of the parents of this generation. The ‘cut-off’ for admission into an Indian college exceeds that of a mediocre college abroad by miles. Parents who have encountered the functioning of our government run educational system give serious thought to sending their children away for further education. This means they don’t necessarily need to be top of their class, or stressed out thanks to the excessive competitiveness, to ensure a graduate or postgraduate degree. This allows for the child to be comfortable about talking to his/her parents about school, and therefore he/she is naturally more transparent with their folks, and doesn’t hesitate to speak the truth. There exists a unique, trusted transparency between the youth and their parents, who can now consult their parents with matters concerning even love, sex, and other general frustrations that come may come along the way. The possibilities are enormous with ranging from discussions based on stock markets to decriminalized homosexuality. The mindset of the youth has now evolved to comfortably drinking with one’s dad and sharing a priced Cuban cigar together. There are no places that one can visit with one’s friends but not with parents. The home environment is no longer burdened with fear. “My parents disapprove of me drinking every weekend; they hate it that I smoke. But they would never think of throwing me out of the house for it! I mean we have arguments and all, but these are very small things in light of our relationship. I can tell my dad when I’m feeling an urge.” said Kunal Saha, a young en- trepreneur from New Delhi. A commitment to one’s parents for a lunch date is as important for a child as meeting his/her partner for lunch. Parents are no longer the ‘old hags’ one needs to ‘endure’ at home, they too qualify as vital friends who are completely in sync with their children’s lives.
  30. 30. 43 Happily Ever After Or Not Urban spaces have nourished strong, opinionated and most importantly, independent young minds. The youth has made its peace with the fact that there every relationship could come with an expiry date, and one may not end up with their happily-ever-after. The options are limitless and prospective dates are distributed in a youngster’s social circles. This could be regarded one of the factors that played a role in the youth finding it rather easy to move on. One no longer plans his future with the vision of finding a partner at the crux of it. “I know my girlfriends will come and go. But I know very clearly where I want to be five years from now. That plan is not going to change because of a girl. She can be a part of it, of course, but the plan will remain the same”.' remarked Vikram Singh of Bangalore, a working professional looking at pursuing an MBA next year. The security offered by the home environment and from the prospects of a flourishing career makes the youth accept the heart-ache with a pinch of salt. Break-ups are not as melodramatic as they used to be and are rather dignified, clean, and sans drama. Almost 80% percent of the youth believe that leaving a relationship with a clean snip of the strings attached is far more respectable than a half baked decision of parting ways that inevitably leaves both parties resentful. “I'll just be more at peace knowing I did the right thing by not making it ugly.” said Prerna Malaney, a recently graduated pharmacist from Mumbai. The distinction between fair and unfair has been made very clear. Nowadays, it is not uncommon to find two previously involved individuals maintaining a respectable friendship. The 'friend zone' is an amicable space where platonic relationships thrive, irrespective of a romantic history. “I can't just not be friends with my ex. He was my best friend, so I might as well hold on to that. We both decided to move on and that already happened, so why ruin the friendship?” asks Kajol Gianani, a final year C.A. Student from Delhi. Further, social group structures remain sacrosanct even if one or more of its members have dated within the group itself. It's never been easier to move on than it is now for the Indian urban youth. Love and relationships don’t count for the core of a youngster’s life anymore.
  31. 31. 45 Life With The Live In The average Indian primarily understands and constructs the meaning of ‘love’ from the interpersonal equations within the family. Traditionally, the family unit in India is built upon a conservative concept of an arranged marriage. Falling in love with your partner has conventionally occurred after marriage. Alternately, when people fell in love, the motive was to get married. Therefore, the concept of love and marriage went hand-in-hand and were not perceived independently of the other. The India of the twenty-first century, however, represents a different mindset. For today’s youth, a romantic involvement need not result in a happily ever after. A relationship does not necessarily imply intent to marry. Today’s youth are accepting of relationships ending and new ones beginning. Almost 60% of the youth of both sexes expressed that the idea of a ‘Life Partner’ is not the operational notion driving relationships. The idea of relationships has evolved tremendously. While love and marriage were synonymous concepts, the notion of love resulting in security lasting a lifetime was automatically expected. How- ever, keeping pace with development and a faster pace of life have resulted in an increasing number of individuals who are not willing to ‘compromise’, and therefore, won’t marry someone merely because of a romantic relationship. The attitude towards a romantic relationship is that if it hasn’t met the ideals set in the individual’s mind, it is alright to end it. In a way, the youth is equipped to deal with disappointments and does not need a relationship to validate their existence in a conformist society. Their priorities in life involve their careers and they set their ambitions and goals which do not depend on their romantic alliances. They derive their sense of stability from their families and the need for security from a romantic partner is diminished in the process. Of course, they still brood over questions pertaining to the nature of ‘love’, but questions such as, ‘What can I do to change the world’, ‘What is the purpose of my existence’, ‘How much money will I have when I’m thirty’ and ‘What share is rising on the stock market’ preoccupy their minds much more. When asked how many of them would like to get married before thirty, a group of young Mumbai University post graduate students laughed. The elaborate, exaggerated Indian weddings tend to place a lot of pressure on the minds of the young today, owing to the many rites and rituals involved, the socializing involved with people attending the wedding and the stressful encounters with all ceremonies alien to the young. The idea of being under the scanner and watching one’s behavior on their wedding day acts as a deterrent for marriage. Besides, weddings are an expensive affair, with a reasonable wedding ceremony costing between two to five years of one’s earnings. It’s becoming increasingly common for the youth to consider alternative ways to make use of the money. Taking a vacation perhaps, saving for a rainy day or merely living an indulgent life seems more attractive than splurging on a wedding day. This does not imply that marriages are passé. Marriages still do form the core of our social fabric. However, the youth
  32. 32. 47 Life With The Live In is no longer in a hurry to get married and start a family. Unlike the previous generation who married fairly early and went on to have a stable job and children by the time they hit thirty, today’s youth dedicates the first thirty years to themselves. Conventionally, one would expect women to show more inclination towards ‘securing’ her happily ever after. However, when we see the progress that women have been making, we see where their need for security gets fulfilled. They are well educated, at par with men, securing professional degrees and move on to their careers with gusto and confidence. Their perceptions about marriage are the same as men. They do not entertain notions of a glorious, timeless love story that dictates plot of Bollywood cinema. Instead, they engage in finding a more practical, convenient and sustainable kind of love. Traditional acts of romance including candle lit dinners, flowers and heart shaped balloons do not particularly thrill the young women today. The exaggerated gestures of swooning and idolizing one’s partner are no longer the flavor. cont. Keeping in line with reality, Bollywood has toned down its sensationalized concept of love to reduce the melodrama, add more reason and liberty. According to a study, live-in relationships, punctuate the lives of almost 65% percent of the working youth at some point or another, but the skepticism towards marriage hounds almost 78%. ‘Happy endings’ are out of the scheme of rationality of the Indian youth. Between being friends and being in a relationship, an additional stage has been introduced to our relationship vocabulary called, ‘it’s complicated’. This phase characterizes ambiguity regarding the nature of the relationship. The twenty first century has seen this phase gradually morph into a fad. This limbo phase celebrates and prioritizes the lack of a definition of a relationship and celebrates uncertainty which gives one the liberty to experiment and assess, effectively ushering the youth into a new era of enlightenment where they learn to take responsibility for their decisions and make informed choices.
  33. 33. FAITH “I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I believe that what people call God is something in all of us.” - John Lennon
  34. 34. 51 Google Search : Enlightenment The Indian urban youth would smirk at the idea of a single source of knowledge or information. The practice of crosschecking information is a frequent one amongst the youth. While such wasn’t the case a few decades ago when our parents would blindly listen to what their parents had to say, the youth of today aren’t so trusting. Parents are listened to, but not completely obeyed. nant of the youth’s opinions, the first one being their own instincts. Contrasting the previous generation, youngsters today wholly depend on their individualities and don’t succumb to following the ‘herd mentality’. Pressure from any side is met with dignity, be it the pressure from one’s peers to smoke a cigarette or the pressure from one’s parents to get married. Apart from minor lifestyle tweaks as a result of this constant information hogging, the need to explore spreads even to the work sphere. Young people are no longer hesitant to take up a temporary job ‘just to see what it’s like’. Given that they don’t rely on second hand information, they would rather take the plunge than learn from experience. This easy access to information has made it possible for a young student traveling to college on a train to read Buddha’s eight fold path before he reaches college.It is not necessary to take leave from work/college, pre-book tickets, take a long painstaking journey to the middle of nowhere to find enlightenment at the world’s oldest monastery. From the Vedas to Roman History, from the Mayan philosophy to Scientology, everything is just a click of a button away. The internet and friends are the other primary sources of information for today’s youth. In fact, the youngsters prefer to go out alone in the battlefield and explore, unearth and discover information for themselves, on their own. The skepticism to trust trickles down to their degree of being influenced just as well. Peer pressure’ is the last determi- The necessity to verify information and to have a world of data at one’s fingertips has rendered the youth sharper and more difficult to trick. Stories of being ‘conned’ don’t make the rounds too often anymore. Nothing is inaccessible to the urban youth of the 21st century; one’s smart phone and ridiculously fast internet plan enable one’s to scramble through history like a flip book.
  35. 35. 53 They Need Us Politics has always been reserved as a territory the youth trusted the elders with. The post-independence hangover saw the political scenario bursting with nationalistic slogans, slogans that get borderline jingoistic after a certain point. Today’s youth though, are very aware of the disintegration of our political structures and are very conscious of the fact that they qualify as voters, and not doing this duty doesn’t go down too well with this generation at all. This has given birth to a new definition of nationalism which factors in an element of reality, unlike the illusion that the nation had succumbed to post independence. Nationalism characterized by jingoism is in the process of being phased out. Factors including rising unemployment have aided in this altered behavior. Highly qualified youngsters are still, unfortunately, unsure about a job; this has allowed them plenty of time to introspect not just their condition, which is an amalgamation of corruption and bad governance, among other things, but the general condition of the country as well. This could be thought of as the driving force behind the youth wanting to take matters in their hands to bring about tangible changes. Their enthusiasm to vote is one such method by which they believe they can contribute. Optimistic as this may sound, it is in no way a qualitative improvement in the political system. The lack of awareness - for example towards the status of the ‘no vote’ – invalidates the whole idea of voting. Quantitatively, the youth are more and more inclined towards voting and being active citizens so it can be safely said that 2014 will yield the highest amount of young voters. “I can’t wait to vote”, claims recently turned 18 year old Aadamn Mamaji of Mumbai. “I was just waiting to be eighteen so I was taken seriously. Now my presence will be felt in society, I will contribute with my vote.” The sudden sensationalizing of the role of the youth by certain political parties alongside the actual reality of it all have merged together to make the young urban individual genuinely believe that he/she is the inherent custodian of society; and that the authorities are not to be easily trusted and that he/she can make a difference as a representative of the youth. The skepticism that the youth holds against political organizations has much to do with the fact that the urban youth of the twenty first century does not grace some-one with trust easily. Nobody’s word is accepted at face value. Further, the Right to Information act is known to be widely used by the youth who are not afraid to create ripples in a seemingly calm political environment. While most of the youth is still a little bit apprehensive about ‘starting a revolution’, incidents like the recent Lokpal Bill illustrate that the coming decade will see more involvement of the young in social and political activism.
  36. 36. 55 The Success of Spirituality The youth of today is constantly conditioned by their parents into believing in a God, and practice the ideals of these religions by incorporating them into their daily affairs. They adhere to them, obediently, for they do not wish to disgruntle their parents in the least. They partake in ritualistic 'poojas' and attend mass on Sunday in their best clothes. They fast in the month of Ramadan and they visit the Fire temple regularly. The whole nine yards are traversed in an attempt to seem true to their parents. Their social lives outside their homes are characterized by something else completely. The youth do not allow the supposed 'principles' of a mythological text to dictate whether they will be ordering beef or pork for dinner. They do not allow the twenty days of a religious month to get in the way of their birthdays or their friends' birthdays which are rather drunk affairs. The youth only follow in what their parents believe in, but don’t genuinely believe in it themselves. No passionate belief in gods has been observed amongst the urban youth. Alternately, spirituality has gained gravity in the identities of the urban youth and the last thing that they associate with spirituality is conventional religion. Another repercussion of the lack of faith the youth exhibits towards religion is atheism. It is perceived as an unbiased and ethical way of life. With the coming to light of several injustices orchestrated through religious practices, like the exploitation of women and the ills of the caste system, atheism is synonymous with being well-informed and just. The shift in the perspective of the youth towards religion has much to do with a western influence and their ease with alternative faiths and spirituality.
  37. 37. SUBSTANCE "When I was a kid I inhaled frequently. That was the point." - Barack Obama
  38. 38. 59 Got A Light? Today’s youth are popularly known to invest most of their time making and maintaining friends, and a day in the life of this segment is glaringly incomplete without the mention of intoxicants aiding in keeping cliques together. The ease of adoption of these intoxicants that range from alcohol to cigarettes and even marijuana can be viewed under the lens of a strong social conditioning that the youth has been exposed to. This could arise from the fact that youngsters these days have a very evident cultural influence from the West, fuelled by easy access to English TV shows, and other resources on the internet. Until recent times, consumption by youngsters and more particularly women was perceived very negatively and rejected by society at large. This scenario has drastically changed, and ‘chilling with friends’ at popular hangouts has almost become a standard. Of the many factors that encourage consumption of alcohol, easy access to substances, increasing average income of the youth segment, and independence earned at a very young age are most relevant to the youth. Intoxicants have, therefore, become very readily available. Adding to this is also the fact that of late, there has been a decline in the significance attached to ‘conventional’ Indian norms, which has allowed for validation of consumption of these substances. As a result, the entertainment industry has greatly flourished owing to the staggering demand for places such as bars, clubs and microbreweries with an added element of hosting shows including stand-up comedies, short plays and gigs. Simple birthday celebrations involving taking friends out for dinners or movies have become extremely passé with such establishments appearing in every nook and cranny of the city. Surprisingly, today’s parents have also become very tolerant of the youth and allow them to dabble in such activities. Natasha Rathod, a 22 year old travel photographer from Mumbai said that, “My parents know I smoke, I mean they don’t LIKE it, but they know. I can smoke at home and as long as I don’t influence my little brother, they don’t really give me much flak for it. Of course there is a general remark or two about being healthy, but apart from that, nothing really.” In conclusion, although intoxicants have been around since the beginning of time, they have gained prominence in the Indian social sphere only recently, and are definitely here to stay.
  39. 39. 61 It’s Natural! Time immemorially, drugs have established themselves as the badasses among intoxicants, akin to the image of a Harley Davidson in a sea of motorbikes. Historically, drugs have been thought to alter personalities, and thus been viewed very distastefully. Drug abusers have been constantly accused of committing crime and being unproductive, and have been labeled as ‘outcasts’ as well on several occasions. The urban Indian youth however, have a different story to tell. To begin with, the youth draws a firm boundary between marijuana and other narcotic substances. Weed has been redeemed of its past perceptions and now is thought of to be fairly harmless. The internet has been a facilitator in this process by giving the youth easy access to information about marijuana on forums that sometimes could include doctors. Several conversations across the internet and otherwise talk of the good effects of marijuana and have helped by lending to it, a less negative image. As a result, 30% of marijuana users across the country are slowly turning away from cigarettes, fighting the urge by simply lighting up a ‘spliff’. The ill effects of cigarette smoking are incessantly spoken about via myriad platforms in an attempt to dissuade smokers. Their easiest escape lies in the reassurance that they get when they light a joint, popularly known to be medicinal, therefore serving a smoker’s larger purpose. Furthermore, the celebration of marijuana as a recreational drug by Western societies and its legalization in some countries has egged the youth on to first try and then indulge in marijuana consumption. “I email my mum articles about the benefits of marijuana all the time. I wish she would smoke a joint sometime. It’ll do her stress good.’’, said a 25 year old regular marijuana smoker from Bangalore, who has been sustaining a well paying job for three years. As an activity, smoking pot has been on the rise in the recent past amongst a wide variety of people, given that the entry barriers have been severely lowered. From youngsters to independent entrepreneurs to corporate executives, almost 60 percent have tried it and al- most 20 percent relish it as a regular habit. There is no longer a taboo attached to smoking weed, and being a ‘junkie’ was never considered cooler. Marijuana almost never lets one go out of hand and behave abnormally, as opposed to alcohol. “How is alcohol even legal?” asks Avantika Bahl from Delhi, a final year psychology student who claims that alcohol has more ill effects in the long term on an individual’s personality than marijuana. Further, the ill effects of alcohol are considered far more harmful than those of marijuana. Lack of control and fluctuating temperament are often associated with alcohol, while stability and calmness, with marijuana. The youth are very aware of these specific and different behavioural changes, having tried both themselves. This drastic change in perspective will set the ball rolling towards legalization of marijuana in India.
  40. 40. 63 Smoking Slims The previous decade saw a steady rise in tobacco consumption by women. Cigarettes have been thought to be dangerous from a pregnancy and fertility point of view, but for today’s career-oriented woman who doesn’t aspire to have children immediately, this threat is barely considered. Even today’s youth that lives for the present without giving much thought to their future in many aspects of their lives are hard to fluster. They can’t be veered away from this habit given its biggest off-take – easing awkwardness in social situations, and enabling social inclusion. The ongoing third wave of feminism has only aided in bringing equality to the table, and allowing women to make an unbiased choice, without having to respond to being constantly judged. It’s not unusual to see women engaging in sports that were previously male dominated such as football or cricket, or for that matter – lighting up a cigarette. “I picked up this habit from my boyfriend. Now, he doesn’t smoke anymore, but he never says anything to me if I do. Why would he?”’ said Dia Motwani, a 25 year old client servicing executive from Bangalore. The previous generation, now at ease with young boys smoking and making peace with marijuana, is yet to accept their daughters picking up similar ‘vices’. This daughter is, however, rescued by the dynamically changing environment at urban homes where both the male and female children are given the same privileges and deadlines, without imposing stricter rules for the girls. The likelihood of a fourteen year old girl picking up a cigarette out of curiosity is similar to that of a fourteen year old boy, and neither of them bothers with concealing their ashtrays or cigarette packs. Establishments that serve alcohol such as bars and clubs, that have traditionally subjected women to the male gaze and being predominantly ‘masculine’ spaces, have also altered their ambience and feel to be as welcoming and intriguing to women. The woman is no longer subjected to unwarranted, incomprehensible glances if seen buying and smoking a cigarette in public. The tobacco industry has also started catering to its female audience by introducing flavoured variants to make smoking a fun act.
  41. 41. Section 3 Guest Articles
  42. 42. 65 Digital: The Future of News Dissemination and Crowd-Sourcing Content Anant Goenka - Head, New Media Group, Indian Express Limited The digital medium offers tools to improve the quality of stories and storytelling. There are many theories attempting to explain why Bill O’Reilly continues to be the King of Cable news in America. I believe it has to do with the format of his show. The idea is that, like most successful products out of Newscorp’s skunk works, the show should appeal to the lowest categories in the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid as possible. So at 9 pm every night, Fox News’ anchor is a welcomed friend in American rightwing homes. A television persona who doesn’t just read the news, but discusses with his viewers by sharing their insecurities and strengthening their worldview. Sure, people want dispassionate brave journalism. Nonetheless, they’d prefer a conversation with a companion, and digital interaction allows that conversation to grow. Traditionally, reading a newspaper was like hearing an experienced grandparent speak at, or even towards, you. The modern-platform agnostic newspaper, is one that converses, and not by cheapthrill augmented reality toys, but by sustained interaction with readers. At the Express, if a reader reacts strongly to an article by way of a comment, suggests a follow up, or even just says “good work” to the author, it means that there’s someone listening. Really embracing digital media, however, is more than reacting to reader feedback; it’s about involving one's audience in shaping the content one creates and building their appreciation and trust with transparency; and India has a long way to go to that point. An enviable case study: Aside from the constant attempt to tell stories with embedded maps, graphics and charts, The Register Citizen, a local community newspaper in Connecticut, runs an “open newsroom.” Citizens are invited to sit-in the 4pm story planning editorial meetings (which is broadcasted live on their website anyway), and a café, attached to the newsroom, has free wifi to encourage local bloggers (otherwise perceived as threats) and other active members of the community to use the Register’s facilities, access 134 years of the paper’s archives, contribute story ideas and interact with the newspaper’s team of experienced journalists. As the news and advertising community, one area that we are missing is the power of high-quality vernacular language news on the internet. Loksatta – one of Mumbai’s largest dailies, was the first in Marathi news to launch a native android application. The app was downloaded 10,000 times in the first week itself. Comments on their editorials frequently run into hundreds and the base of the users is a fraction of most other English news sites. We can’t even begin to estimate the power of crowd sourcing until we start experimenting with the concept in our vernacular languages. Really empowering India in the digital world would be to have dynamic, local-ad supported vernacular news websites with newsrooms located at popular bus stops or train stations that welcome interaction with the community. Granted that we are at a far more nascent stage in the digital process in India, but crowd sourced
  43. 43. 66 cont. news doesn’t have to be the shoddy journalism done by untrained journalists “empowered” with a camera on their phones that it is now. It can be a powerful tool to build a connect with one's audience, involving them in the process, getting story ideas, and measuring how far or close one is to telling stories that matter. And there’s no short cut. CNN took six years to get iReport right. History shows us that after all the innovation, open newsroom projects and transparency tricks, the most powerful way of breaking through the clutter of the internet is being consistently accurate. No matter what the genre, quality content will find its reader. Pratap Bhanu Mehta’s summary of the UPA’s failures in The Indian Express earlier this week (While We Were Silent, 11thJuly 2013) was our most viral column this year. By noon of the day it was posted online, it had already earned 100,000 views, 7,700 shares on Facebook and 1200 tweets. If we have a chance of increasing revenues on digital platforms, it is by creating and growing loyal unduplicated audiences with quality content. At Express, we’re already seeing this - The In- dian Express New Media division’s silent success over the years comes from the profile of our readers. Further, the true test of our audience is on digital platforms. When a realty company last month received 15 filled-out forms and four confirmed meetings within 16 hours in response to a banner ad for flats above 4crores in the NCR region on our site, we are pleased to put our money where our mouth is; And be reassured that a content-first strategy is really the only formula that stands the test of time anywhere in the world.
  44. 44. 67 How young are you? A new mindset to connect with the next generation of rewired brains. Andrés Colmenares - Founder, Wabi Sabi Labs, Spain We are living in exciting times. During the last 10 years, we have witnessed how the first generation of humans raised in a networked society are changing the rules of everything, from commerce to communication. Some like to call us millenials, others Generation Y. Our birth-ranges vary according to each category or region, but beyond the labels or birth years, what matters is the fact that most of us are experiencing the same global events, almost in real-time, enhancing the diversity of local cultures and reframing the meaning of the youth. The simplicity of traditional market segmentations is not enough to decode the complexity of our current society. Now that we are truly living in the "global village" predicted by Marshall McLuhan, the assumptions of demographic or economic segmentation are outdated. We need to reframe questions, develop dynamic pattern recognition systems to replace static classifications and most importantly, we need to change our mindset in order to evolve and adapt properly. In other words, we demand an Operating System (OS) switch, powered by three key elements: the speed of change, the hacker attitude and the remix culture. Speed: switching from demographics to technographics. The speed of change is going up and will go up faster in the future. Ray Kurzweil, the inventor, futurist, (and now Director of Engineering at Google) described the Law of Accelerating Returns in his book The Age of Spiritual Machines (1999) , as "the rate of change in a wide variety of evolutionary systems (including but not limited to the growth of technologies) tends to increase exponentially", turning the basic assumptions tied to demographics as obsolete as the DVD drive in your Macbook. Access to technology is the key driver behind this paradigm shift, as it becomes more powerful, cheap and portable. Today, tools such as technographics become more relevant to identify patterns in usage and ownership of devices or web services rather than assuming that a group of persons will think and act in a similar way because they were born in the same year or place. Hack: switching from interruptions for the masses to meaningful networks for niches.If there is one influential niche in this story it is the hacker community, the people who built the Internet (not the evil crackers portrayed by Hollywood). Their mindset, well-described by Eric Steven Raymond in the hypertext "How To Become A Hacker", is the soul behind the revolution of different industries and systems. Their attitude is focused on hard work, problem-solving and sharing ideas through networks, leading to a diverse collective intelligence. Youth brands now need to design relevant content and experiences for people connected by a wide variety of shared interests, instead of creating interruptions for large audiences. Attention now flows in streams (Twitter) rather than linear blocks (TV), but both still coexist, demanding a deep understanding of values and behaviors using tools like network dynamics, social graphs or interest-maps to build valuable relationships with smaller groups. Remix: switch from a profit-driven market of consumers to a purpose-driven ecosystem of people. The relationship between the producer and consumer
  45. 45. 68 cont. has radically changed. We are moving "from a Read-Only to a Read/Write culture" as Lawrence Lessig, founder of Creative Commons, would say. A growing percentage of young people are building their own audiences, creating their own products and connecting to a purpose-driven economy. In this organic ecosystem, brands become interfaces opening the door to combine design thinking tools like User Journey Maps or Personas, taking a human approach to marketing. The "installation" of the Speed-HackRemix OS might be complex and will provoke some chaos, but we need to trust the process. A simple way to start is to practice three vocabulary experiments: 1. Change the task name from "How to classify the youth" to "How to connect with the youth”. 2. Unlearn the term "consumers" and replace it with "people". 3. Reframe the traditional question "How old are you?" and ask more frequently "How young are you?". As Pearl Jam said: "It's Evolution Baby!".
  46. 46. 69 The *bliep case study and what Indian telecom providers should learn from it. Jeroen Bochma - Founding Partner, Young Creators Agency, Netherlands Co-creation used to be the realm of software developers, or actually just (mostly) boys, glued to their computers, programming mods and additions to open-source software like Linux and FreeBSD. Those boys – constantly in contact with each other on the young (and for most of us unreachable) Internet – contributed, added and refined. The real, actual nerds; the prototypes. The same type of people who build applications for smartphones at home, on their own. Talent combined with vision. If you had the vision, but not the talent in programming, nothing happened and vice versa. You needed to be great to be noticed, and that holds even more true nowadays. In the daily bulk of new applica- tions, your app needs to be extremely good, addictive, innovative or useful to be seen – and therefore used. Increation works in the same manner, but we stopped using the word co-creation to distinguish it from the we-havean-idea-you-can-advance kind of creative process. Increation merges talent and love. Love for what you do and want to create, along with the talent to pull it off. You can do this, everyone can do this, not just the fans. Every startup company has a true fan and visionary at its core, plus the right can-do attitude. The real fans are in every company, they're the ones who chose specifically to work for this or that company out of the love of their ideas or products. If your company is sadly without anyone that meets the criteria of an integrated fan/talent, look outside and get your outside fans to be your creative conscience. Pity though, not having any fans within... A real fan is more than somebody who just likes your product or service. However easy it is to like something on Facebook, it gets irritating when they start spamming you. Being fun goes only so far, being loved goes a lot further. We people are able to feel real love for products or services, with every consequent emotion attached. Love can move mountains, make blind, do good or evil, is active, wants and has needs. In the name of love, wars were started and ended, and if Paris and Menelaus
  47. 47. 70 cont. had thought Helen of Troy just a nice girl, Homer would have found a different subject to write about. Love makes deep connections, sometimes eternal, while liking is temporary: something you like now can easily be replaced by something new you like later. Products made from love are fantastic, product managers who love their own products and brands sell more. Being liked on Facebook is not enough; you have to create something people can love for real. The question “How can I make somebody love me?” is as old as time. It’s the driving force of stories and mythology, of fairy tales and love potions, of love songs and heartache... And easier said than done. Think back on those times when you did your stinking best to get someone to fall in love with you, how witty you were, how fashionable you dressed, how you were the best you could be (or acted as a completely different person). It didn’t work. You can’t force somebody to love you, you have to find the person who fits you and loves you just for yourself. However, you can help the process a bit. Try the opposite: start loving first. Love young people. Don’t ask them to love you, love them instead. Be a real friend. This is how the dutch startup of the year started, *bliep started with young talented people before we had a brand or a product. From day one, these young talents between 13 and 18 years old were the heart and soul of this company. They are the management team, the creative team and the reason why it is such an incredible success.
  48. 48. 71 The Future of Fashion in India Maia Sethna - Fashion Blogger India has undoubtedly come exceptionally far in the world of fashion and playing dress-up. The enormous infusion of western influence and social media, especially targeting the younger generation, influences Indian trends, the way we dress and what we feel is ‘fashionable’. However, there remains an element of stagnation, due to the cultural aspect and its norms. As a nation, we are drawn toward a more traditional school of thought, often accompanied by rigid stereotypes and narrow-mindedness. The regression, in terms of the way women are viewed today , has come to light in recent events. Consequently, this has resulted in women holding back on developing and expressing their personal style and sporting the latest trends, seen in international magazines, on the runway and in popular television shows and cinema. Mimicking trends like crop tops and cut out dresses for example, become difficult for most, as there is the question of "indecent exposure" or revealing ones midriff. When in the west, subcultures like goths, punks, and hipsters prevail, having the freedom to express themselves through their style and wardrobe, why is this something that we frown upon? The reason for holding back on experimenting with ones style fundamentally stems from not wanting to hurt cultural sensibilities, to appear modest in a society that is not accepting of people dressing-up outside boundaries of what is deemed ‘normal’ and ‘acceptable’; but above all in the case of women, to stay clear of unwanted glances and attention that one’s outfits might receive. This prevents a number of western fashion trends from prevailing in our nation. The weather, of course plays a significant role in this as well. given the extreme heat and often humid climate, styling your outfits becomes very limiting. Fancy leather jackets, well tailored suits and faux fur – fashion accessories that are very popular in the west become very difficult for us to accommodate in our daily wardrobes and limits us to pulling them out only when one is on vacation or if one is in a colder climate. Progress- market growth, awareness of global fashion trends, demand and easy accessibility are invariably making themselves felt, nonetheless. The intro- duction of high street international brands like Zara, Forever 21, Mango and Marks & Spencers, whose availability was once limited by an international flight, are now available at virtually every mall and shopping center in commercial Indian cities. International luxury brands like Hermes, Burberry,Tom Ford, Louis Vuitton, Fendi and Todds have their flagship stores set up in major metro cities. If that isn’t enough, consumers find themselves just a click away from retail heaven by ordering from popular online shopping facilities like Net-a-porter, Asos and several others which now boast of worldwide delivery. With the rise of social media – fashion bloggers and trends like street style are now influential factors, and play a key role in addressing worldwide trends and decoding the season’s ‘must have’ pieces. The increasing numbers of ecommerce websites have a brand identity which not only targets the young population but men and women of all ages, resulting in easier access to the latest brands, styles, trends and collections. Premium Indian designers use western influences in their contempo-
  49. 49. 72 cont. rary designs, they often merge current global trends with their own collections. Men's and women’s Indian fashion designs are given equal importance, and receive global recognition, while fashionistas world wide sport Indian outfits and accessories like the saree, Jodhpuri trousers and kolhapuri's. Ethnic clothes are a huge section of the fashion industry in the market especially for bridal couture and the demand for real jewelry is massive. The demand for Indian designer couture and authentic jewelry is steadily increasing with the emergence of several young, fresh designers each season, with a host of existing designers, proving the field to be highly competitive . An analysis of the average Indian’s fashion choices demonstrate that they are highly Bollywood-centric, as actors and models are primarily fashion and style icons that influence the masses. Whether we progress with western influences or stagnate due to cultural confinements isn’t entirely certain, but what remains assured is that Indian women and men love dressing up. Even the lady that sells magazines at the corner of the street dresses in vibrant hues with a delicate flower tucked behind her hair and has taken pride in picking out her outfit, which leads us to believe that the future is hopeful. The juxtaposition of both sides of the story allows us to observe and question; are we, women in particular, being muffled? Is our integrity and individuality being limited due to restrictions on what we can wear? Do men have it easier? The inability to express oneself through fashion is often hampering. Will we continue to grow and evolve in a global sense or stagnate and remain within our own comfort zones, or break out and have the courage to express ourselves freely? Evidently, this paradox needs to be addressed as it threatens the very essence of the right to expression, a virtue that remains priceless. The ability to enjoy an identity with various manifestations like clothes and make up is certainly not a ‘label’!
  50. 50. 73 The world is small - or is it? Mikko Ampuja - Business Development Director, 15/30 Research, Finland Sometimes people say that the young generation is the same everywhere. The internet changed everything and now you can see what’s happening on the other side of the world within minutes of the birth of a new phenomenon. Yes, in some aspects, the youth seem to be the same everywhere. Many movies or games can be globally appealing and it is not uncommon to hear the same songs in clubs and bars where ever you travel. However, there are a lot of differences as well. Here are some of my observations. 1.The Finnish youth are starting to move to a post materialistic view of the world. In many cases, money or displaying material wealth is not the best way to build one's status. For example, a high salary is quite low in the many criteria of how graduates choose their new jobs. Also, showing your money and wealth are usually frowned upon as modesty is one of the celebrated virtues in Finland. 2.Yet, the brands you buy and display say a lot of the young person you represent. People buying iPhones are usually trendier and more open to new things than the people buying Nokia (Nokia is a Finnish brand). Now, the trend seems to be favoring Samsung. However, the interesting thing about youth and brands in Finland, is that what you don’t buy, says quite a bit about you too. In many cases, the youth have very loud opinions on which brands shouldn’t be bought for ethical reasons or sometimes for just being very boring. 3.One thing that struck my eyes when traveling in India and talking with my colleagues over there, was the hunger and passion for building a better future. Finland and many other western countries have been wealthy for a bit longer than one generation, so abundance has become the norm. Working harder will buy you a 60” TV instead of a 42” or maybe a nicer car. In any case, you will be able to buy a TV, car, smart phone and a flat even with a relatively less effort. This combined with the news about poor economy and even crisis has resulted in a generation which is not very excited about working hard in order to succeed and build a better tomorrow. In India, I think the future seems very different, very promising. In the 80’s and 90’s, the US seemed to be the place where young people followed the trends and picked up new, interesting things. Between 2 000 - 2010, Berlin and Scandinavia seemed to be the place all the cultural change was happening. After 2015, I think India, China and Brazil will show us the way. Today, there’s even a Hindi themed bar in Helsinki.