October 10th saw The Beans Group, The Student Room and Thinkhouse host The Youth 100 2013 at the Barbican Centre in London, where 250 innovative brands and creative agencies gathered together to discover the most popular brands among young Brits.
Bacon butties were consumed, coffee was drunk, and the stage was set for the results, described as a set of data that “destroys our assumptions about what young people like and love“.
Channel 4’s Will Best hosted with great enthusiasm between expert speakers, a panel-discussion and the Awards, which were announced at the end of the morning’s proceedings.
First to speak was Luke Mitchell, Head of Insight at Voxburner, a company that specialises in youth consumers and compiled the data. Mitchell described the “‘New Generation‘” as “the incoming class of thinkers and doers” and revealed some interesting insights into these most targeted of consumers. Mitchell explained that letting young people down with a bad use of tech was dangerous for many brands, emphasising the need for many to get online and be innovative with their marketing campaigns.
As well as this, Mitchell said many companies harbour far too many misconceptions about the ‘New Generation’, and argued that results proved young weren’t really vain, but rather “comms-savvy“, understanding perfectly how to self-promote online.
Mitchell argued that for the New Generation, adulthood came early: “You can’t shock the New Generation…[it is] pragmatic and de-sensitised” thus finds the use of shock to promote a campaign “a lame tactic“. Mitchell used the example of Miley Cyrus, whose own personal brand has done a 360 in the past couple of years. He said The New Generation was less “Oh my God” about efforts such as these, and more of a “what are you doing?” instead.
Above everything else, Mitchell argued that “Brands can be heroes” for young people, by entertaining and inspiring young audiences with fun, imaginative campaigns that “bring smiles and build meaning“. Digital marketing here is of utmost importance; by using video marketing and social media to promote cool campaigns worthy of going viral, brands will be able to gain support from a much wider audience.
This idea was confirmed during the panel discussion,which saw three young adults, aged 21-23, discuss their most loved and loathed brands with both the audience as well as experts from PayPal, Movember and the Odeon.
One of the panelists, a 23-year old recent graduate, argued that being able to communicate with brands via social media is of utmost importance: “I want customer service,” She announced, “And I want it fast!”
An expert from PayPal confirmed this, emphasising the need for brands to get involved in social media and ensure they optimise their sites for mobile: “Young people are massively engaged with mobile; 75% have a smartphone” she said. As a result, PayPal has simplified the payments process as a result, in order to bring ease to those paying purchases on mobile devices.
Managing Director of Thinkhouse, Emily Cramp, also spoke at the event, describing “social frequency” and content platforms such as Vine as huge opportunities for brands to appeal to young people and get on their radar digitally.
Finally, the UK’s top brands according to 18-24s were announced, with successful brands of particular note including the digitally-awesome and ‘happiness’ promoter Coca-Cola, who beat strong rivals to be announced the winner of the Non-Alcoholic Drink category.
PayPal, a company championed by one of the panelists earlier-on in the event, was announced as the winner of the Money and Finance category, and Sky stormed ahead to be announced number one in the Mobile Providers & ISPs category.
YouTube was the biggest winner of the event however, and proved the growing popularity of video marketing among young people by fighting off strong competition from Facebook, Google, Skype and Wikipedia to be crowned the winner of the Internet category, as well as the most favourite overall brand among 18-24 year-olds.
So, what can brands take from the results of the Youth 100 awards? Make the most of digital media, that’s what. YouTube’s number one spot highlights the importance of digital media for young people, with coherent, entertaining and inventive digital marketing strategies being essential to brands looking to attract younger audiences.
Companies must get creative before they have a hope of winning the trust of this media-savvy, pragmatic generation, so get your thinking hats on!