The Youth Marketing Strategy conference (YMS) has been going for about nine years now, which, as I learnt this week, would make it part of Gen Alpha. It's worth starting by saying that it's a good conference but I don't think the name of it is 100% accurate unless by "marketing" you mean advertising and communications, and by "strategy" you mean digital-focused tactics. Which I don't. But that's why the key take-outs below are quite skewed to these things. So here are 14 observations from this year:
1. Gender fluidity is mainstream for Under 24s. Only 2% of males in this age bracket identify as 100% masculine. (YouthSight)
2. Easy access to porn is having quite an effect on young people; the amount of under 24s having sex has reduced dramatically over the last couple of decades.
3. There's a big difference between role models and "influencers" and young people are aware, and ok, with that. And role models are more likely to be friends than celebrities.
4. The word "authenticity" was used a lot. A lot a lot.
5. Bit of a move away from digital towards physical experiences. One youth panel talked about how strange they find it that shops are trying to recreate e-commerce (in-store iPad ordering etc.) when the whole reason you go to a store is for physical interaction.
6. Some "influencers" are adding fake #ad and #spon tags to their posts to make it look like they've been paid to post, with the aim of encouraging brands to get in touch. That made my head hurt a bit.
7. 60% of kids will be obese by 2035 and they're being totally forgotten about in the urban planning process, which is a contributing factor. (WHO)
8. For a conference about marketing there weren't many talks from marketers.
9. There is a big big revolution going on in football. Particularly in relation to gender.
10. Gen Alpha is a thing (under 9s onwards). Answers on a postcard as to what B will be used for the next ones.
11. And 40% of Gen A see climate change as their responsibility to fix, not politicans etc. Considering they're 9 I'm not sure if this is inspiring or sad. (Beano Studios)
12. The food was healthy, tasty and abundant. Big thumbs up for that.
13. Jimmy of Jimmy's Iced Coffee and Jamala Osman are inspirational and amazing. Check them out and listen to them wherever you can.
14. Finally, don't buy into the stereotypes of young people (which to be honest, is advice a couple of the speakers could have heeded).
A fun two days. Looking forward to more good stuff in 2020 with hopefully a few more brands speaking, a few less sales pitches, and some talks from a slightly broader representation of the marketing discipline.