Always keen to see the latest, worthy research into those young wipper-snappers that apparently are our future so was lucky to be sent some insights today into Australian Youth, 4 million of them aged 16-30,  from Urban Market Research (UMR) a joint initiative between Lifelounge and Sweeney Research.

There are the usual eye opening statistics, multi-tasking, mobile texting, overuse of social networks and so on (listed below) but the research is more interesting as it digs a little deeper and explores a few emergent behaviours, from years of doing all of the above.


The survey shows that multi platform storytelling, while slightly alien to those older folk indoctrinated with linear, mono media is an absolute natural space for this age group – they swim and immerse themselves in multi media and like the proverbial fish are unaware of the water they breathe and that surrounds them.

“While multitasking when consuming online and other media has been growing in recent years, it is now the norm.  The research confirms life online is frantic, with over 80% of the youth market ‘doing other things’ while surfing the web and being active on social networks…it also reveals ‘interruptive’ marketing tactics are out, in favour of a more ‘discovery-led’ approach that allows young people to unearth new products, artists and fashion labels in their own time, and bank the street cred that comes with it.” – This group also cannot live without “An internet connection and mobile phone were rated the two top things UMR respondents couldn’t live without (30% and 20% respectively) over their car, TV, alcohol, favourite piece of clothing, drugs and favourite movies.  Being connected is important.”

But the survey of 1700 young australians demonstrated that they are also very aware of the potential overload in their lives and the need for more ‘spiritually’ fulfilling or relaxed approaches to their connected media

Young people are finding ways to balance their connected lives with more organic, offline forms of entertainment.  Of significance, 56% of respondents spend at least one hour a week ‘pausing’ by reading a book (and 21% read for more than 5 hours a week)  – continuing the trend we saw emerging last year. Dinner parties, going to the movies, visiting an art gallery and the theatre are also core elements of their socialising mix. We refer to these pursuits as “single-minded experiences” as opposed to “multi-minded experiences”.   While multi-minded experiences are all about skimming the surface, taking in as much as possible and multitasking, the single-minded experiences are about taking time out to pause and absorb.  The challenge then for marketers is to get their brands into a “pause and absorb” event.

From a transmedia marketing perspective the need to stop being old school and pushing messages, being interruptive and generally disrespectful are to be avoided at all costs to truly engage with Australia’s $68.56 billion youth market

Dion Appel (CEO of Lifelounge Group) explained: “It’s not about switching off, but pressing pause to alleviate the pressure.  The challenge for marketers is to create a ‘pause and absorb’ moment – to cut through the clutter and catch the attention of the youth market – to make them stop and think. The winners won’t be the companies that broadcast their message the loudest,” Appel added.  “Success is about cleverly branded content integrated across all channels, mixed with a good dose of imagination and old fashioned entertainment.  Campaigns like the recent Old Spice ‘real man, man’ are the benchmark of how to get the balance right.” In line with taking a breath, the young adult market also places value in brands who have mastered the art of subtlety.  The days of interruptive and attention-grabbing marketing are over.  It is now about nuance over noise; finding over force-feeding. Young people don’t want to be screamed at from the rooftops; the “finding” is important.  It’s about the challenge of the chase and the street cred of unearthing something new – products, artists, fashion labels etc.  Brands need to embrace the notion of letting their consumers explore, discover and unearth.


The hybrid social world of online and real life that many heavily connected people now live in, and especially this age group, means that their identity is paramount , a game for some to be influential and highly regarded by their peers. Far more important than the media they consume is themselves:

After seven years at the top, music has been knocked off its perch as the lifestyle pillar that most strongly defines who young people are. At the top of the list of “what defines you” is “my friends,” with young adults now looking to their peers to validate who they are, what they consume and what’s important in life.  This isn’t to say that music is not influential, it is second on the list of “what defines you” and is still crucial to a young adult’s self-concept and self-expression – but now more than ever, it’s the importance of friendships.

Naturally the research looks at the marketing aspects of this ‘ego-centric’, peer engrossed behaviour –

This year sees the next level of authenticity emerge known as – “authentici-me.”  Authentici-me describes how trend-setters adopt an authentic brand or product and then add their own expression of individuality to it – allowing them to display their own interpretation of the brand. It is the combination of authenticity and individuality that equals authentici-me and is a trend we’re seeing primarily in fashion, music and communications. Marketers should also look beyond ROI and consider Return on Relationships (ROR)

Also the sense of community that a large online peer group that trust and respect you is second to none for many of this group but has good and bad consequences.

Dr. Cassie Govan, the co-author of the report from Sweeney Research said: “The pressure they are feeling is a result of their deep set need to stay socially connected and culturally aware. Falling behind isn’t an option. There’s an ever present undercurrent of anxiety around this fear of missing out or dropping off the pace. We call this ‘exclusion anxiety’ and it’s a function of wanting to avoid feeling socially aloof or culturally detached.” “It’s really important for brands to distinguish between genuine and immediate friendship groups and broader social communities when developing strategies,” Appel said.

BTW if you think you understand this generation – even if you are one yourself – have a go at the quiz that UMR have set up to see how sharply your finger is on the pulse of the connected generation.


We have heard long and hard about the move from traditional broadcast to online (I have done my own extensive research too!) but the research suggests TV is still hanging in there

TV is not dead: TV is not dead to young adults, trending upwards from last year with 21% of respondents watching ten hours or more each week. Masterchef, the Simpsons and the Big Bang Theory are the favoured shows. TV is also the number one way young people access news and current affairs (68%).  TV also offers the highest recall, with 48% of respondents who remembered a marketing campaign that particularly resonated with them remembering it from TV (the pay off to brands – of those who remembered something that really connected with them, 73% talked to someone else about it).

Less surprising is this demographics diminishing reliance on ancient forms of communication such as email

UMR 10/11 predicts email will soon be ‘dead’ as a vehicle to reach the youth market.  Only 10% of respondents spend five hours or more on email with social networking and texting trending strongly as the communication channels of choice.

Here are a few more key statistics within the context of this post that provides a little more insight to support this fascinating change in networked media behavioural evolution.


  • Mobile phone ownership is close to universal with only 2% of the youth market saying they don’t have a mobile.
  • Most (54%) are on a post-paid contract and 41% are on a pre-paid arrangement (with 5% saying they’re on a post-paid no contract arrangement)


  • Only 24% of the 16-30s downloaded music illegally in the last four weeks.
  • The preferred means of acquiring music for the 16-30s is by legal internet downloading, like iTunes – with 46% stating this as their preferred channel of music acquisition.


  • 38% of 16-30s travelled overseas last year; 73% of 16-30s travelled within Australia last year.
  • 41% of 16-30 year olds have a car that it older than 10 years – only 13% have a car that is 2 years old or younger


  • Looking at their major event attendance in the last year: 41% went to a music festival, 46% to a major music gig, 42% went to a major sporting event, 41% got their culture at an art gallery, and 24% went to a rave/dance party for an altogether different type of culture.
  • Down-time is important too: 56% spent at least an hour in the last week reading a book (and for 21% it was 5 hours or more).

About UMR

You can get more on this article that overviews the findings and highlights the key marketing take-outs from the research and an executive summary which also describes people’s attitudes in the key categories of communication, finance, sex, health & society.  This executive summary is also free to download from the UMR website.

Lifelounge’s Urban Market Research (UMR) in conjunction with Sweeney Research is the country’s most definitive guide into 16 to 30 year old Australians.  An annual research project that encapsulate the values, behaviours and attitudes of the young adult market segment, the UMR focuses on the core interest areas of music, sport, fashion, entertainment and travel and further evaluates how communication, finance, sex, health and society influence behaviour.

Now entering into its seventh year, and in partnership with full service research agency Sweeney Research, the UMR is Australia’s leading annual youth research report.  Housed online, the UMR allows subscribers to search the latest trends in the 16-30 year old market.