Alokananda Chakraborty

For Indian youth, live-and-let-live is the mantra: MTV study

MTV’s ‘Tuning into the Youth’ study throws up some interesting insights on Indian youth, even as the MTV Youth Marketing Forum focused on trend spotting

How would you define the youth of today? Cool, confident and in control of their destinies, or plain gizmo-totting freaks? The fourth edition of MTV's ‘Tuning into the Youth' study attempted to understand some of this and more. Released at the annual Youth Marketing Forum organized by MTV on May 20 in Mumbai, the study had some interesting insights and statistics on Indian youth. One such statistic was that 38 per cent of youngsters in the country love watching TV. "That means about a third of the population are couch potatoes," says Raj Rana, associate director, research, MTV Networks India. Youth in Mumbai, in particular, enjoy sitting in front of the idiot box, with 55 per cent of the people surveyed in the city claiming that it was their coolest activity.

Conducted in eight cities comprising Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Lucknow, Baroda and Vishakhapatnam, the study surveyed 2,040 people in phase one, while phase two was devoted to focus groups in the metros of Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. Four groups in each of the metros consisting of approximately 10-12 people, who Rana defines as "trendsetters", were constituted. Also included in the exercise were veejay Nikhil Chinappa, model Kelly Dorjee and Internet expert Rajesh Jain. "The idea was to get the view of the masses, the view of the trendsetters and the view of the experts," says Rana. "The basic objective of the study was to understand the different trends among youth, and the field work began in January this year, which concluded by the middle of February."

The dominant trends among today's youth include the use of SMS, email, chat and mobiles. Text messaging in particular is hot with the youth in smaller towns. "Vizag (Vishakhapatnam), for instance, scores high when it comes to SMS," says Rana. Again, live-and-let-live seems to be the mantra of Gen Y, with pre-marital sex being a way of life with them. "Delhi, however, stands tall on the acceptability quotient with 40 per cent, followed by Kolkata at 35 per cent, Bangalore and Lucknow at 33 per cent, and Mumbai and Baroda at 29 per cent," says Rana.

Bollywood influences the youth in a big way, with Bollywood music and stars scoring high with young people. So also with veejays, who are viewed as fashion icons and trendsetters. An important shift in the mindset of young people today is the need to acquire wealth. "In other words, it is not uncool to be rich," says Rana. Spending money seems to run high with youth across metros and small towns, with youngsters seeing no harm in splurging big-time. Some of the coolest things for a young person are a credit card (Mumbai), jewellery (Delhi), a Walkman (Bangalore), sleek-gelled hair (Baroda) and neatly combed hair (Chennai).

If spotting trends was what drove the fourth edition of MTV's study, it was also the overriding theme of the sixth chapter of the Youth Marketing Forum. The line-up of speakers included professional trend-spotter Irma Zandl, president of the Zandl Group, who dwelt on the mechanics of trend spotting… and marked out the basic difference between a trend and being trendy. "Trends are long-lived, based on lifestyles, technology and demographics. They are directional, can be monetized, can come from anywhere and represent a lot of potential for people. Being trendy, on the other hand, implies that it is fashion-oriented and short-lived," she said.

Some of the broad trends in American society that Zandl highlighted included the assertive-aggressive woman or "chicks in charge", who are under less pressure to conform, believe in taking charge of their lives, and above all, go by the maxim of ‘got it, flaunt it'. "In the last 30 years, the population of single women in the age group of 25-34 years in America is up from 17 per cent to 30 per cent," said Zandl.

Muktesh Pant, ex-chief marketing officer, Reebok Worldwide, along with creative genius Peter Arnell, talked about the turnaround of Reebok from a mere sneaker brand to something ‘relevant and cool'. "The 12-18 age group is core to the sneaker industry, but Reebok was never perceived as cool by this segment," said Pant. The ex-marketing honcho, who quit Reebok early this year to pursue his dream of launching integrated facilities specialising in yoga, ayurveda and meditation, went back to the year 2001, when Arnell Group was first hired to infuse life into the brand.

Rather than looking at athletes - traditional sneaker brand ambassadors - to endorse Reebok, Arnell hit upon the idea of hiring rap artistes to do the job instead. The result was a campaign that got Reebok the necessary top-of-mind recall, at the same time made it relevant and cool to its core target audience as well. What followed next was the popular Terry Tate campaign that took the fight to archrival Nike's camp.

Apart from Reebok, Arnell went back to his Simply Samsung campaign of the 90s, his experience of building the DKNY brand, and his work for Hanes Hosiery in the late 80s. At a time when Hanes depended on young, white models to endorse the brand, Arnell got pop singer Tina Turner to be its brand ambassador, with the result that it not only helped Hanes to stand out in the clutter, the campaign also etched itself permanently in the American psyche as a piece of communication tastefully and beautifully done. © 2004 agencyfaqs!

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