Monday, January 7, 2008

One Youth Nation Under A Groove

written by Kevin Walker and Anietie Antia-Obong

I am a HUGE fan of George Clinton and his wonderful, whacked out, zany genius. Not only is George Clinton one of the greatest minds of the 20th century, but he is a prophet as he predicted that we would all be living as “One nation under a groove getting down just for the funk of it!”

This idea is quickly becoming a reality amongst general market youth. Our research shows that despite ethnicity, many young people consume the same media, enjoy the same hobbies and love the same brands.

One of the primary missions for our agency, CultureLab, is to bring account planning and research discipline to the multicultural youth segments. That said, we maintain constant contact with youth across the country and monitor emerging trends relevant to them.

In a recent CultureLab focus group, we discovered there were huge islands of common interests despite ethnic origin or social class. For instance, when asked “Where do you spend most of your time on the internet?,” the overwhelming response was Youtube. Youtube was discussed as the “go to” site when you have time to burn and want to entertain yourself.

Also, the majority of the group (ages 18-23) stated Google was their homepage. Sneaker hoarding, skateboarding and gaming (specifically Nintendo DS ) were the popular hobbies/activities. (Although it should be noted those of Asian ethnicity expressed that they spent more time playing games networked via wi-fi with other players.) In terms of brands, the overwhelming favorite was Apple with Apple having the most coveted and hottest gadget out there, the iPhone.

The whole idea of this “one nation” youth concept was further underscored on a recent trendspotting trip to LA. We went to the Fairfax District near Melrose and Fairfax and discovered long lines of kids waiting to get into the hottest street wear and sneaker shops. Upon more careful observation, we noticed that it was a complete mixture of racial groups. There were many young people of Asian descent and there were equal numbers of Whites and Hispanics. It was literally a representation of the proprietary CultureLab segments of focus: Urban Renaissance (urban blacks who are trendsetters), Urbanized Whites (whites who are influenced by and naturally comfortable with Latino and black culture), Cultural Blenders (typically suburban youth of Asian or Eastern Indian descent), and Reggaetonistas (urban-acculturated Latino youth).

The striking thing about what we saw is that it was a whole movement around finding the rarest and most coveted street wear and sneakers. It was a feeding frenzy for the hottest lifestyle accessories for sneaker freaks and skaters of all cultures.

For marketers, it’s very important to understand the complex consumer and attitudinal dynamics involved in staying relevant with these groups. At CultureLab, we are constantly in contact with the younger, multicultural demos in order to monitor and stay up-to-date on emerging trends. This approach allows us to create cutting edge campaigns that really register with this ever-changing, dynamic group.

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