Getting under the skin of today’s teens: Interview with BPP’s Marketing Director, Jo Street

In 2017, we were lucky enough to partner with BPP on a fascinating piece of work designed to get closer to teenagers using the power of video.

We caught up with BPP’s Marketing Director, Jo Street, as she shares some of the most interesting findings from the research and explains why using video was key to getting “under the skin” of teens.

Q: Thank you very much for joining us today Jo. To start, can you tell us a little bit about the work you conducted with Decidedly?

A: Of course, as one of the thought leaders in the professional education sector, we are constantly looking for new and interesting ways of getting closer to our students to ensure that our offerings are tailored to their needs as well as to those of businesses. We asked Decidedly to help us get closer to 15-16 year olds and explore three key questions: What are teenagers’ lives like? What does their learning journey look like? And most importantly, what is their awareness and perceptions of apprenticeships?

Q: Why did you decide to use video to engage with teens with this project?

A:  We decided to use video because it’s a tool that teens use all of the time to communicate, much like the platforms Snapchat and FaceTime. Each day the teens in our community were given video tasks to complete, which spanned from them telling us about their average week, right through to filming video interviews with friends and family. It helped us to gain real depth of insight and build a complete picture of their lives. We also didn’t lose out on capturing their authentic reactions to topics, and we were able to catch their various moods and see them at different moments throughout the day to understand the key influences on their lives.

Q: How did teens respond to the use of video?

A:  Using video as a part of the community resulted in record engagement! Over just 7 days, the teens uploaded 180 videos and logged in almost 40 times each. They even became mini moderators, bouncing ideas off each other and even probing each other’s answers. And what’s more, they proactively opened forums to chat about everything from politics to prom.

Q: What did you learn about teens during the research?

A:  The research was very valuable and has helped us to get much closer to teens. To begin, we found a teen’s world revolves around personal connections. They like to get their facts from first-hand sources they trust and admire, such as their parents, friends, teachers, role models and interestingly, relatable celebrities. We also learned that they have a growth mindset but at the same time, consider a good work-life balance to be crucial.

It was also interesting to see that teens are very motivated by seeing the tangible measurements of their hard work. From good grades to awards, they value acknowledgment. Finally, we found that teens and parents alike see apprenticeships as a smart and viable path for the future; yet many still have misconceptions about what apprenticeships involve, with a significant proportion believing that this route is only suitable for practical or vocational jobs.

Q: How will BPP capitalise on the findings of the research?

A: Decidedly produced several videos conveying key insights of the research, and we have used these to help land the findings with internal departments, which has shaped decisions at every level of the organisation. The research has influenced our marketing and communications strategy, and the language, media and channels we use for this age group. It’s also shaping the design and delivery of our programmes, particularly around the role of digital.

What’s more, when we tell our business partners that we have done this work it helps to demonstrate our commitment to really understanding our audiences and designing programmes that are based on insight, not instinct.

We’re hoping that this interview with BPP inspired you to start thinking about how you could use video in your own research! For us, this was a fascinating project that really opened our eyes to what is possible in the digital world, and we have developed 5 tips for incorporating video into your own research (keep an eye out for this upcoming blog post).

In the meantime, if you have any thoughts or questions, contact us!