To the modern young person, gender is fluid, age is just a number, and culture is global not local, which means demographics actually tell us very little about them as consumers. This is a new era of target marketing. Four in 10 young people (42%) are more connected to culture outside of their country than culture inside their country, proving that culture, passions, attitudes, and behaviors go beyond demographic profiles, according to the Global Culture Forecast from the cultural and generational experts at Cassandra, a division of Engine Insights. The ubiquity of the Internet and an ever-increasing penchant for international travel means young people’s lives and culture are no longer bound by international borders, as communities with shared interests exist across such barriers. It is these passion points—one’s Culturegraphics—that have the greater impact on a consumer’s identity and habits.
How can brands navigate this borderless world? There are 3 key factors to win in this culture-first, country-second world:
1. Create community—help them discover cultural touchpoints and connect them with other fans.
2. Redefine culture—give consumers the tools to contribute to the cultural story.
3. Elevate the individual—celebrate each consumers’ uniqueness by speaking to their passion points.
Young people are constantly in discovery mode looking for new cultural connections, whether it be music, movies, fashion, or arts. It’s imperative for brands today to be one step ahead of the cultural pulse to be captivate this group. Netflix has looked to Germany’s and China’s emerging TV scene to bring this movement to its members. Recently it gave worldwide distribution to Chinese detective series Day and Night, for example, and is creating its first original Chinese-language series, Bardo.
Not only is Netflix solidifying its role as lead content creator, it’s also using its platform to the connect the world, allowing viewers to bond with others with the same media interests. Young people see digital platforms as the epicenter of their community, not physical locations. With so much of their time spent in front of screens, 63% of global youth watch tv shows and movies from other countries and this becomes a cultural connection between them and their international peers.
The majority (62%) of young consumers prefer pop culture that is immersive rather than passive. Gone are the days of merely watching a TV show or listening to an album; they want to engage with such cultural material and literally insert themselves into the content and share this as a means of contributing to the cultural conversation.
Brands should think about how they can create opportunities and offer tools for this emerging desire. From the Whitney offering filters that allow visitors to put themselves in famous paintings to Sony’s digital platform that enabled fans to put their faces on the cover of The Miseducation of Lauren Hill as part of the label’s 20th anniversary celebration of the album, consumers embraced the chance to be a part of art. In doing so, they also became ambassadors for the brands and part of a fan community as they willingly sharing branded content via their social feeds and channels.
Elevate the Individual
Young consumers are curating their own unique “culture diet”—they are what they consume, and their focus is on being highly original. Only 21% of young people feel guilty or embarrassed when they don’t follow popular culture that everyone else is talking about.
Brands can help young people craft their culture diets with personalized suggestions designed to help them unearth content they will love. Consider Spotify’s success in ensuring users receive regular inspiration both through its own recommendations, as well as by connecting them with playlists created by other users from around the world. Young people are constantly in discovery mode looking for new cultural touchpoints to add to their unique personalities.
Capitalize on Culturegraphics
In these ways, culture has come to define consumer identity and habits much more than do demographics, and brands have an opportunity to leverage this in their targeting strategies. Look beyond your consumers’ age, race, region, and gender to see them as they see themselves: as cultural aficionados with key passion points that shape their lives and their behaviors as consumers. Open up your brand to “global” conversations, ideas, and content to ensure your content will resonate and drive results for your business.
Melanie Shreffler is Senior Insights Director at Cassandra