A Beta Life Youth, a study conducted by MTV Networks International, shows that unlike Europe, where the youth associate a brand with a mere label or logo, the Indian youth perceive a brand as a trend that offers them dependability and helps them to "choose the right thing".
The study was conducted between September and December 2008 in the UK, the US, Germany, India and Japan, amongst 8,000 technology embracing 12-24 year olds. The study aims to understand how technology has impacted the social lives of young people globally, and explores how these lifestyle changes affect their relationships with friends, family, entertainment media, communication technologies, advertising and brands.
In Europe, a brand is much more likely to be seen as a label or a logo, whereas in India, a brand is seen more as a trend. Brands can also be seen to give guidance to the youth. They offer dependability and help the youth 'choose the right thing', as well as showing "that you know what you're doing".
Unlike the Japanese youth, who are really not brand conscious - one in three says that a brand is not relevant for them - the Indian youth (one in three) favour certain brands and try to stick to these.
The Indian youth not only favour certain brands, they talk about them (two in three discuss a brand a 'lot') and make researched purchases, too. Almost 87 per cent of the Indian youth (as against only 80 per cent in Germany) make a researched purchase.
The online world plays a huge role in the brand decision process and 71 per cent of the youth, across all markets, agree that the Internet makes choosing a brand easier, while blogs, review sites and social networking sites are increasingly important in affecting brand decisions. For example, website reviews are the fourth most important factor for movie decisions behind friends, TV and cinema ads.
However, in contrast to what is widely assumed to be an increasingly prevalent role of the Internet, the study suggests that spending time online ranks as the fourth most popular leisure activity behind listening to music, watching TV and hanging out with friends.
In fact, TV is one of the most prevalent ways of directing youth online and TV advertising is "the most efficient medium to introduce youth to brands, helping shape decisions around purchasing and suggesting what TV channels and websites to watch/visit".
Almost 88 per cent of the Indian youth have a favourite channel which they hold in high esteem and tune into regularly. Meanwhile, only 38 per cent of the youth in Japan have an affiliation for a particular channel.
While advertisers can pick their channels to reach out to their target audience, there's some more good news as 60 per cent of the youth feel that TV advertising helps them make brand decisions. This is most prevalent for youth when buying technology items, especially electronic goods such as games consoles. However, TV advertising also has an impact on the purchase decision of clothes and fashion items (50 per cent agree), too.
Interestingly, celebrity endorsement is the least important factor for the youth in shaping brand perceptions and purchase decisions. Only 20 per cent of the youth agree that celebrity endorsements make a brand desirable. For them, 'coolness', popularity and their friends' opinions are the main driving factors.