Youth Culture IS Culture
In Matt Britton’s newest book, Youth Nation, he declares that the youth culture IS culture. He explains that never in modern history have the processes, demands and wishes of the youngest generation had such a profound effect on how the older generations do things. He also teaches that marketers should begin shifting their messaging and distribution methods to the ways that the youth culture prefers if they want to make an impression.
The first thing you need to know is that Millennials want to collect moments not things. They are not looking for status symbols, but they want status updates. Britton has coined an acronym for this… DIFTI… Do It For The Instagram. In this practice, the youth of today are making choices on what they buy simply for the action of posting the event on social media. It begs the question, if it is not on social media, did it actually happen? Some brands that have done a great job creating experiences with their brands are Red Bull Flugtag (if you are unfamiliar… building and piloting home-made aircrafts and launching off a deck over water) and The Color Run.
The youth of today see their social media platforms as their outlets to build their own personal brand. Personal brand building is what everyone’s social media page is about. It’s just that some are more interested, with a distinct attempt, at building what their personal brand is. When building a personal brand, purchase decisions are made, based on what products and services will help build one’s online brand. This creates what Britton calls barbell economics.
Barbell economics shows heavy emphasis on value brand and luxury brand purchases while things in “the middle” are disregarded. Most Millennials are interested in building their online brand, but they are on tight budgets. They are struggling financially. They are actually the first American generation to not have higher incomes than their parents. Therefore, with not much extra money to spend, they focus on luxury brands first. They want to ensure they have a purchase that is worthy of posting in order to build their online status. By default, value brands become the next purchase. For instance, all deodorant will probably get the job done, and since deodorant is not helping me build my online brand, the choice would be to buy the cheapest value brand. Millennials execute this sort of purchase decision everyday.
The final remarkable aspect of what Millennials want and how they are getting their content is the extreme disconnect between them and the older generations. There are online “stars” that have larger social media reach than any A-List celebrities. Where Millennials go to view content and interact is almost alien to others. The most popular wave in music now is Electronic Dance Music. There are festivals where thousands of kids show up to watch someone literally play their laptop. And the last of such festivals in New York City brought more attendees than Woodstock, which is considered the cultural pivot of the entire Baby Boomer Generation. The fact is, most people don’t yet grasp the media and the content that Millennials are interacting with everyday.
Matt Britton’s book is a must for any marketer looking to understand social media, Millennials and the content they are wanting. This generation wants to be reached just in different ways than most assume.