Last year there were two elephants in youth’s rooms—the pandemic and social injustice. Youth and their families reckoned with both, and we were with them every step of the way. Our annual Yearbook catalogues the relevant cultural happenings, the minutiae of everyday life, and the trends we see bubbling up that are important for brands to recognize when building strategy for the next several years. Plus, we offer sound advice for investigating young consumers’ needs to build a lifetime of loyalty.
At first, normalcy in the U.S. screeched to a halt on March 11, 2020, when a worldwide pandemic was declared. Schools closed, March Madness and all other sports were canceled. Families hunkered down. YouthBeat® surveyed parents and kids in May for a special report with a COVID lens. Of note: parents were extremely concerned about their own mental health. Youth were sad to miss seeing their friends in person, but they built some good habits around hand-washing and helping to prepare meals at home.
Summer arrived, whew. Many youth and parents were able to go back outside, even touch a playground, in a way that would have seemed dangerous even a few weeks prior.
And then George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis, sparking a nationwide call to recognize racial injustice and turn the tide against it. Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, these were the names of summer in the U.S. We’ve often said that Generation Z is the most socially active group since their grandparents were protesting the Vietnam War. They show up and expect to be heard. And they reject brands who put up superficial “BLM” tags on their Instagram without credibility for long-term advocacy. These leaders of tomorrow have a new fire in their bellies, and we’re excited to see how they make positive differences.
While the metaphorical elephants were dancing in 2020, it’s no surprise that childhood marched on unfettered. Some things are simply timeless. Losing a tooth, learning to ride a bicycle, snorting with laughter, and wrestling your brother. Little kids were emotionally well-protected by their parents, maybe indulged with extra snacks and toys to alleviate boredom, and as COVID vaccinations proliferate, this year may fade into a vague memory of Zoom calls (and glitches) and virtual Thanksgivings.
Our 100-page Yearbook tackles tweens and teens too, as well as parents. Everyone had a lot to say in this wacky year! We highlight pop culture favorites. We dive into the most interesting dynamics in media, food, shopping, social causes, and more. We detail the essentials of building emotional connections. Finally, we make recommendations for our subscribers for how to re-assess the needs and behaviors of youth and families, and build trust and loyalty in 2021 and a long time moving forward.
Remember, the Yearbook is only one of the rich deliverables that YouthBeat® supplies to our subscribers. We’re in the field every month with kids, tweens, and teens, including our Say What? Video Journals. We’ll leave you with our favorite example of a video submitted in April 2021 from our panelist, Monet: