MTV outlines characteristics of India‘s youth

MUMBAI: For India‘s youth marketers, there are three important characteristics that they need to keep in mind before tapping into this segment.

The youth function as one. Each individual in distinct and the
instinct is to maintain this distinction. Individuality is something that the youth refuse to trade with while continuing to display cohesive behaviour as a group.

The second significant trait is that while being modern in thinking and expression, India‘s youth values the family. While society norms do not seem to bother them, parental perceptions and approval still matter.

The third thing to notice is that the youth today, thanks to the high levels of exposure, is already inspired. What it wants is engagement.

These are the findings of a research report by MTV on the attitudes and preferences of the youth. The research explores how the youth view themselves, what makes them tick and their modes and methods of expression.

Empowered with information and digital platforms, youth has the ability to start revolutions, trends and movements that transcend demographics and geographies. In a crude way, they behave as one family where each member is in sync with the other.

They present a unique case of participation, collaboration and competition. They are constantly involved in an informal match of one-upmanship through the various media available to them. Knowing is no longer enough. Being the first to know and having accurate up-to-date information separates the uber cool from the cool. Eighty nine per cent research online before making any purchase decision. They operate on multiple screens and live in the fast lane. They are the new age social butterflies aptly renamed digital butterflies.

When asked whether they feel that the youth has the power to change or influence society, 72 per cent responded with assertion that they do feel so. An average 26 per cent were not too sure about it and a paltry two per cent believed that this was not the case. This shows the confidence that the youth has in itself and the conviction for making a difference as a unit.

The youth of today is a participative lot. 42 per cent said that they would participate in a movement for a cause that affects them. This feeling was resonated across religions and genders. The study showed that females are slightly more participative with 46 per cent agreeing to participate while 41 per cent males responded positively. The research also showed that the will to participate in a movement is strongest among self starters (48 per cent), followed by students (42 per cent) while the salaried show least inclination (37 per cent). The younger age group between 15 and 21 years ie more likely to get involved in a movement (43 per cent) as opposed to those between 22
and 24 years (40 per cent).

They are largely independent of media influence when it comes to making significant decisions. The most important factor in decision making for the youth today is personal experience (32 per cent), followed by parent appreciation (26 per cent) and family approval as a whole (24 per cent). The least to affect the youth’s decision making process is media appreciation and fame (two per cent). Being
particular about maintaining their identity, the youth co-creates content. With the digital platform, it is now possible to comment, criticize, applaud, modify and reinvent content.

The social norms do not deter the youth from exercising their personal identities. When asked about the importance of society in decision making, 56 per cent replied that while the societal perceptions do bother them, they will go ahead with their decision if they feel they are right. Thirty seven per cent blatantly refused to acknowledge the society’s views while eight per cent admitted to never wanting to go against society sanctions. While more males were resistant to societal norms (39 per cent) than females (28 per cent), the fairer sex felt more strongly about going ahead with their decision, societal norms notwithstanding, on the basis of personal conviction (65 per cent) as opposed to males (54 per cent).

The youth act as influencers in their own circles. When asked whom they feel they can influence the the maximum, the popular answer was parents (82 per cent felt so). Parents were followed by peers (57 per cent), siblings (39 per cent), professional colleagues (36 per cent), girlfriend/boyfriend (35 per cent) and social network connections (34 per cent). The government (15 per cent), brands/companies (12 per cent) and legal authorities (11 per cent) figured in the bottom three of the youth’s perceived spectrum of influence list.

The youth of today is a passionate lot, given that they see logic in the cause. They prefer using their minds, weighing the pros and cons and then commit to a cause. According to the study, the youth find that corruption is the most significant societal issue that affects them today (21 per cent). This is followed by unclean surroundings (19 per cent), the issue of reservation or quota system (17 per cent) and pollution (eight per cent). Surprisingly, illiteracy (to per cent) and poverty (three per cent) got the least attention from the youth.

The research stumbled across the concept of relevant causes versus glamour trends. While the former refer to more realistic and directly impacting issues like bad canteen food or ragging, the latter refer to causes that have gained momentum and are akin to trends. While relevant causes calls for high levels of involvement, glamour trends earn the youth participation points.

When asked what motivated them to be a part of the movement, neither relevant causes nor glamour trends emerged winners. Forty one per cent of the sample size said that the reason for participation was that it was the need of the hour. Fifteen per cent participated as it had a direct impact on their lives while two per cent participated under peer pressure.

The youth of today uses the mobile device as its primary tool for communication. Mobile phones have gained importance for not only receiving and making calls, but also in maintaining an online presence. Forty per cent of the youth today use the mobile to search Internet sites for various things while 41 per cent use it to access Facebook and eight per cent use it to tweet on the move.

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