Archive for July, 2015

Generation K: Understanding Teens Today

July 21st, 2015 by admin


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Being a teen is often more frightening for teen’s parents that for teens themselves. Puberty is not only the hormonal change, but as well the battlefield between internal factors (parents and family as the role model) and external factors (school, street, teen idols…)

In her research, Noreena Hertz, the ‘Generation K’ co-founder and CEO, and honorary professor at University College London focused on more than 1000 American and British teenage girls age 13-20 years. Hertz named this generation ‘K’ after their icon Katniss Everdeen, the heroine of The Hunger Games.

“This is, after all, the generation which has come of age alongside the iPhone and Facebook. They can’t conceive of a world without the internet and have almost no sense of the revolution technology has brought to our lives,” Hertz said in an article published by Financial Times Magazine.

“But technology is not the only thing that has shaped them,” she said, explaining that this generation have been shaped by two distinct factors, other than technology and contemporary movie heroes. The Generation K is widely modeled by the worst recession the west has faced in decades and the greatest geopolitical dangers it has confronted in years.

“They [Generation K] have grown up alongside Islamic extremism, austerity and Edward Snowden,” Hertz said.

In the research, Hertz wanted to find out what today’s teen feels, what they care about, worry about, and want. Therefore, she conducted a series of one-to-one interviews, which include questions about government policy, economy, etc.

Hertz found that for Generation K the world is less oyster and more “Hobbesian nightmare.”

“Al-Qaeda and Isis have been piped into their smartphones and they have witnessed their parents lose their jobs. They are a group for whom there are disturbing echoes of the dystopian landscape Katniss encounters in The Hunger Games’ District 12. Unequal, violent, hard,” Hertz said in an article.

According to Hertz’s research, the kids in Generation K are concerned about existential threats, with their anxieties stretching way beyond the typical teenage anxieties.

“Seventy-five percent of teenage girls I surveyed are worried about terrorism; 66 percent worry about climate change; 50 percent worry about Iran. They also worry inordinately about their own futures. Eighty-six percent are worried about getting a job; 77 percent about getting into debt,” Hertz said.

“Such concerns will not only have an impact on future savings and consumption patterns — they are having an effect right now,” she worried.

According to the research, there is a brighter side of the Generation K, as teenagers drink less alcohol and take fewer drugs than their recent predecessors. However, in 2013, as many as 22 per cent of female high-school students in the US seriously considered committing suicide, according to the US Department of Health.

“Only one in 10 trusts the government to do the right thing,” Hertz cited the results of her research, emphasizing that is the half the percentage of generations before. The research showed that as many as 30 per cent of teenage girls are either unsure about marriage or don’t want to get married.

“Even more strikingly, 35 per cent are unsure if they want to have children or definitely don’t. This is a seismic difference compared with older millennials,” Hertz wrote in Financial Times article.  

Noreena Hertz is co-founder and CEO of Generation K and honorary professor at University College London. She will be launching her research on Generation K girls at “The Women in the World Summit” in New York on April 24. 


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McCann’s Worldgroup unveiled its Truth About Global Brands study in London last week, having originally debuted it in January in New York, which produced a number of insights including the statistic that 85 per cent believe that global brands can make the world better.

The study’s findings were discussed across several panels at the event which included the thoughts of economist Noreena Hertz, an expert in exploring youth culture, which she described as Generation K, the K referring to the character of Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games saga.

She explained that it was a generation that was “fundamentally shaped by technology” but who were “profundly anxious” as a result of the pressures on the economy, the lack of jobs and the growth of terrorism, which 70 per cent were worried about in itself.

The research was explored by Suzanne Powers, global chief strategy officer for McCann Worldgroup and Rodney Collins, regional director EMEA for McCann Truth Centre, who covered the data generated by the responses of 30,000 people from across 29 regions.

“Think of consumers second, and humans first. Finding the fundamental human issues is more global,” was one insight delivered by Powers.

While ultimately the research was dense, they concluded their presentation by offering one piece of advice on how a brand should behave; like the world’s best house guest where they stay briefly in the consumer’s consciousness and “clean up after themselves” when finished.

Historian David Starkey also caused mirf on the final panel by offering his views on brand behaviours, claiming that essentially everything was made by the British.

The three principles of Deep Globality were also discussed; Create a Global Framework, Earn Our Way into Culture and Inspire Creative that Travels. More details about those can be found here.

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During her panel at the Women in the World conference, professor and author Noreena Hertz explained how she stumbled upon two astonishing factors shaping the lives of people between the ages of 13 and 20: that they’ve been greatly shaped by both “the worst recession the West has faced in decades,” and an existential danger that they constantly have access to via their smartphones. Hertz calls this Generation K (for “Katniss” of the Hunger Games book trilogy), and she thinks they’re very different from the generation just slightly older (born in the ’80s and ’90s).

Hertz’s definition of a generation is a group of people who share hopes, values, and fears, and one of the things she found most alarming about Generation K is the profound amount of anxiety they seem to have. A lot of this could be brought on by living with and being shaped by things like war, school shootings, and the September 11th attacks, and the most interesting way that Hertz noticed this change was in looking at the books her kids are reading. While she grew up reading Nancy Drew, her kids are reading dystopian fiction about struggling against the state.

I discovered that unlike those currently aged between 20 and 30, the “Yes we can” generation, who grew up believing the world was their oyster, for Generation K the world is less oyster, more Hobbesian nightmare. This is the generation who’ve had Al Qaeda piped into their living rooms and smartphones and seen their parents and other loved ones lose their jobs. A generation for whom there are disturbing echoes of the dystopian landscape Katniss encounters in The Hunger Games’ District 12. Unequal, violent, hard.

Generation K also has a stunning commitment to social issues; Hertz found that they’re worried about terrorism and climate change, stressed out about getting jobs and getting into debt, are more sober than previous generations, and harder working, since “45% percent say they intend to work as hard as it takes to succeed over the next 10 years even if they have to labor day and night.”People tend to lump anyone born before the year 2000 together as one group, but Hertz’s data shows a fairly clear line of delineation between this younger generation and everyone else.

by Danielle Henderson




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