In our YouthBeat Yearbook, we wrestle with the headlines, dive deeply into data from across our twelve survey topics and look at what mattered in the market in 2010. But before we do that, we thought we’d share a few trends that told us about the way kids, tweens and teens thought in 2010, and what it means for 2011.
The Lady Gaga Conundrum: Overly Produced but Authentic. For today’s youth, independence doesn’t mean gritty footage, do-it-yourself fashion or even casual chic. In 2010, Lady Gaga struck a chord with youth with a deliberate self-depiction that felt anything but accidental. However, Gaga got it right by being herself – whoever that might be. Like Justin Bieber, who might have been pegged as part of the music machine in the past, she kept her cool by carefully crafting her image, and also crafting tweets – making her accessible, and allowing her “true” voice to be heard.
Good Guys Get What’s Theirs. Look no further than Glee! to see that squeaky clean shows (even those that feature a little drama) have found a place. While we can’t deny that the cast from Jersey Shore and the moms from 16 and Pregnant got attention in 2010, when it comes to what youth are watching, more care about characters with good – or at least complex – intentions – than with Gossip Girls. Perhaps youth have gotten burned out from the bad girl and bad boy celeb stories that seemed to dominate headlines in 2010, or maybe reality TV began to look just too unreal. But in any case, we think that kids, tweens and teens would agree that to be “bad” in 2011, celebs and shows might want to try to be “good.”
SpongeBob as Seal of Approval.
Okay, that might be going a bit far, but in 2010, a licensed character didn’t signify sub-par food as much as it meant a seal of approval on a slightly healthier option. Nickelodeon’s and Disney’s policies on partnering with healthy food manufacturers became truly visible in the marketplace with Mickey found on snacks like unsweetened dried apples. Shows on both networks also worked in healthy eating and living into their narratives. So in 2011, protecting your brand might mean partnering with a property that cares about parents’ perspectives, or managing your own property by making deals with partners who make a positive difference in the life of kids, tweens and teens.
Design on a Dime. Prior to the economic downturn of the past few years, we had begun to notice that average suburban girls were showing up to focus groups with designer purses…We noticed more and more conversation surrounding brands that many adults would find to be aspirational. Now we’re seeing designers catering to this market (see Coach’s Poppy line) while being conscious of the price-point that’s really practical for today’s increasingly cost-conscious kids, tweens and teens. Mass merchants are youth’s favorite places to shop, and designers that might have previously been inaccessible have found a way to meet their young consumers half-way. We think this formula – along with offering deal-savvy youth special ways to save – will continue to redefine fashion in 2011.