We kid you not: 7 things that are hot with young people right now

What do the Beano, the BBC and our very own client Disney have in common? They shared the stage at the MRS Kids and Youth Conference. Hearing from leading kids brands gave us a real eye opener into youth culture. So what’s hot with kids right now?

1. Video hasn’t killed the radio star

Sure, we’re spending more time with our screens than ever before. But video hasn’t killed the radio star. From Serial to S-Town, we’re seeing that audio-based content is on the rise. And this isn’t just confined to adults. The BBC found that kids are spending as much time listening to the radio as they do on audio on demand. And it’s commissioning music and podcasts for a teenager audience to capitalise on these findings.

2. Living in a music echo chamber

Think we’d see a backlash from kids about how brands use their data after the Cambridge Analytica scandal? Think again. Research from Join The Dots found that kids love how music streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music use algorithms to give them personalised recommendations. It’s the main way they find new music – meaning that music discovery becomes a more passive process. And that the echo chamber effect extends well beyond political views – and into music too.

3. Acting on purpose

Brand purpose seems to be the phrase on everyone’s lips right now. It was one of our top marketing trends for 2019. And it was certainly one of the hot topics at the conference. If you want to appeal to young audiences you need to be able to communicate your purpose. Brands like Fenty Beauty and Toms – that are inclusive, kind and making a real difference – are the ones that resonate. But once you’ve committed, you need to deliver. A quarter of 16 – 24 year olds in the UK have boycotted a brand according to Youthsight. Iceland, the supermarket that is continuing to sell its own palm oil products, despite its high-profile Christmas pledge to stop doing so by 2018, take note.

4. Meet Generation Responsible

Forget the rebellious role models of the past. This generation has their sights set on something different. According to Youthsight’s research, a quarter of 18 – 21 year olds are teetotal. And 67% of millennials would rather stay in than go out. It’s no surprise then that half of UK nightclubs have shut their doors in the past few years.

5. Experience is everything

So if kids are moving away from going out and drinking, what are they doing with their free time? Well, for them it’s all about experiences like going out for food or festivals. And it’s time for parents to start rethinking their kids’ presents. Three quarters of 16 – 25 year olds say they’d prefer to be given an experience over a physical gift according to Youthsight.

6. Time for a virtual reality check

Virtual goods are also on the rise. According to ISFE Games, the gaming industry’s trade body, the old prestige of getting a new pair of trainers and showing them off to your mates is gone. Gamers don’t want to buy physical goods, they’d rather spend their cash on a new skin on Fortnite. (Translation for those who are still in the process of getting down with the kids: an outfit for their Fortnite character). Having a new skin has the same social currency as new clothes.

7. YouTube is even bigger than you might think

 YouTube is the go-to for kids’ content. But it’s even bigger than you might have thought. In our own research with Disney, we used wearable and smart home technology to go beyond what people say they do and get the full picture of kids’ leisure time. Having seen the explosion of YouTube in their diary study, Disney wondered if this had been overclaimed. But when we looked at what was actually happening, we found the opposite. In fact, time spent on YouTube was under represented – because it can get lost amongst other activities or it gets miscoded as TV or gaming. Actually, YouTube consumption is far greater than we had realised.