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globAl focus reporT
2012: A YeAr in review
The MAYAns ThoughT The world would end; Teens jusT know iT’s chAnging fAsT
THE GLOBAL LEADER IN YOUTH RESEARCH + INSIGHTS TRU-INSIGHT.COM / @TRUINSIGHT
As 2013 approaches, global teens continue to find themselves adapting to an evolving new-media landscape and a potential global recession. In this TRU Global Focus Report, we’ll take a look at how teens’ vow to spend more in the coming year could potentially help forestall an anticipated economic downturn. Additionally, TRU forecasts the future of Facebook. While we see no evidence that global teens are using the social-media giant any less, data from a recent U.S.-only TRU Study suggests it won’t be long before teens worldwide begin to think of it less as an aspirational part of their lives and more of an operational one. In other words: The thrill isn’t gone, but it’s going. What, if any, ramifications should this attitude shift have on brands’ social-media plans? Finally, TRU analyzes changes in the ways teens consume new media. Today’s teens are on Facebook, Orkut, Renren, or Twitter, not the device that supplies them. That’s a sea change from a not-too-distant past, when youth allotted time in their day with the express purpose of “going online.”
reAd More AbouT iT …
Teen spending MAY help AssuAge looMing globAl recession.
We’re often asked what 2013 holds in terms of global spending and the economy. TRU boasts three decades of experience with young people and a global reach, but—alas—we haven’t yet perfected the art of fortune-telling. Considering the old joke that economists have successfully predicted 40 of the past five recessions, we’ll let them try to burnish—or reform—that record themselves. In case you haven’t heard, the dismal scientists from The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development are particularly down on the world’s near-term prospects. In fact, the OECD recently said that forecasts for the global economy tendered in the spring are cloudy with a chance of thunderstorms, with U.S. budget woes and, in particular, high unemployment in the tumultuous 17-country Eurozone being largely to blame. But here’s the thing about economists’ labyrinthine algorithms and apocalyptic forecasts: teens could care less. This isn’t the first time teens have endured an economic spasm; in fact, for some teens it’s all they’ve ever known. They’re bored with it and, perhaps, even resentful of it. They viscerally want retail therapy whether it’s prudent or not. The plurality of teens (46%) tell TRU that they expect to spend more in the next year than they did in the previous one (a full 86% say they'll spend the same or more), while only 14% of 12- to 19-year-olds anticipate spending less. Furthermore, global youth, taken as a whole, are an optimistic lot. More often than not, they’ll see the glass half full even when all evidence suggests it’s drying on the dish rack. Grim prospects may dampen their parents’ spirits, but it’s doubtful teens will fully comprehend or even acknowledge the bad news. The
only way global teens are sharing WSJ or FT links on Facebook is if they’re looking to lose friends. Fact is seven out of 10 global teens believe their future standard of living will be better than their parents’, with a mere 4% predicting it’ll be worse. And, for teens, impatient for adulthood and in constant need of instant gratification, the future means tomorrow (almost literally). TRU’s not saying global youth can singlehandedly counteract adults who seem to be poisoning the economic well, or even that they’ll make good on their promise to spend more. What TRU is saying is that they want to spend and, given the resources (e.g., parents’ money or access to credit cards), they very well may. If the largest generation in history decides to go shopping, the results might just surprise the experts. iMplicATion #1:
MAke sure pArenTAl ApprovAl is pArT of The equATion.
It’s important to remember that four-fifths of global teens’ spending money comes from their parents on an as-needed basis.
Of course, parents’ and teens’ definitions of “need” can be quite different, so it’s incumbent upon brands to find common ground (when possible). While teens’ primary motivation may be impulse or even peer pressure, for parents it often boils down to value. “Will buying [insert product or service here] for my child just spoil him or her, or does it have residual benefit?” Such benefits could include a compelling value proposition compared to a future purchase, a fail-safe moneyback guarantee, or tangible development promises such as improved educational productivity, fitness, or motor skills. Consider a recent Facebook campaign by the German retailer Bonprix: By leveraging information gleaned from users’ “likes” and interests, Bonprix was able to microtarget both teen girls and women their mothers’ age with “right-rail ads” offering discounts on apparel. The bottom line is that parents don’t want to feel grifted— either by their kids or brands. Targeted messaging that caters to Mom and Dad’s high standards or sense of thrift can be effective, so long as it doesn’t work against what teens find attractive about the brand in the first place.
spending ouTlook (%)
GLOBAL TEENS Spend more money Spend about the same Spend less money 46 40 14
sTAndArd of living (%)
GLOBAL TEENS Mine will be better Mine will be about the same Mine will be worse 70 26 4
question: Do you think you are going to spend more money, about the same, or less money in the next 12 months as you did in the past 12 months?
question: As an adult, how do you think your standard of living (how much money you make, how nice your house and cars are, etc.) will compare to your parents?
globAl Teens Are sTill using fAcebook A loT, buT soon won’T like iT As Much.
Facebook is the only website that more than half of global teens (55%) call their favorite; Google (33%) is a very distant second. In fact, Facebook is the favorite site in each of the seven regions measured for this report. Further, more global teens tell TRU that they visit social-networking sites like Facebook several times a day this year (37%) than last year (31%). (For full disclosure’s sake, last year TRU fielded in 40 countries, three more than this year). So, what’s the problem? Why is TRU even suggesting Facebook fatigue is coming when the percentages indicate otherwise? For one thing, Facebook is losing luster among U.S. teens—the very individuals who were first exposed to the soc-net site nearly nine years ago. They’re the firstresponders and the undisputed guinea pigs in the Facebook experiment. We can use their archetypal ambivalent relationship with the premier social network as a global harbinger. When Facebook first ramped up, and for several years thereafter, MySpace was the dominant socialmedia player in the U.S. Since then, it’s been all Facebook—primarily because no competitor (not Twitter, not Pinterest, not Instagram) has been able to usurp it. But that doesn’t mean U.S. teens remain ravenous Facebook evangelists; they’re simply without better alternatives. (In fact, Orkut, too, seemed indefatigable in Brazil until Facebook arrived, and now Orkut is fast playing second fiddle.) Therefore, U.S. teens, in particular, are more likely now than ever ready to abandon it for the “next big thing” should it come along. Using data culled from The U.S. TRU Study 2013, we’ve learned that while familiarity hasn’t quite bred contempt, U.S.
teens and Facebook are amidst a torrid like/dislike relationship, with fewer and fewer U.S Millennials leaning “like.” In other words, while they still use it a lot, many tell us they don’t like it as much. First, let’s explore the positive side of the equation: 46% of U.S. teens feel out of touch if they haven’t been on Facebook in a few days, and 37% call Facebook an important part of their lives. Now, for the negative side: Just 43% of U.S. teens call Facebook more popular now than it was six months ago; just 41% are more active on Facebook now than they were six months ago; and only 22% couldn’t live without Facebook. True, these percentages only represent how one country’s teens feel about Facebook. But, if there’s one thing Facebook has taught us, it’s that young people are more similar than they are different in terms of how they behave and interact with the world around them. iMplicATion #2:
don’T give up on fAcebook Too soon.
Consider it a case of “down, but not out.” All things considered, it’s more important that global teens are still using Facebook than that they’re no longer quite so
smitten with it. Eventually, everything will go the way of Obsolessence™—the TRU theme that forecasts inevitable irrelevance—and Facebook is no different. Don’t let Facebook’s miserable IPO doom your social-media plans. Did people stop listening to music when musicians started getting less money to make it? For now, stay the course. The fact is that more than half of global teens call Facebook their favorite website, and no other website (social media or otherwise) is even close to that percentage. So it’s important that marketers not jump off the bandwagon for the next big thing because it hasn’t rolled into the station yet. Rare exceptions, of course, are in China, where Facebook is forbidden (and Renren is its equivalent), or in Russia, where V Kontakte and Odnoklassniki duel with Facebook for supremacy. Furthermore, there’s great parity with regards to which website is riding Facebook’s coattails: In the U.S. and U.K., it’s Twitter; in Austria, Belgium, and Italy, it’s Badoo; and in Brazil and India it’s Orkut. In fact, in several areas—including the Nordics, Canada, and Australia—LinkedIn is the second-most popular soc-net site, and while LinkedIn may be great for networking, there’s nothing youthful about it.
Top-5 fAvoriTe websiTes (%)
AsiA pAcific (%)
Facebook Google Yahoo (net) YouTube Naver 52 40 28 21 10
Facebook Google YouTube Yahoo (net) Hotmail 64 45 36 26 15
Facebook Google YouTube Hotmail eBay 67 39 32 14 11
norTh AMericA (%)
Facebook YouTube Google Hotmail Yahoo (net) 67 35 21 12 11
Facebook YouTube (net) Google (net) Vkontakte.ru Mail.ru 52 27 23 17 6
sub-sAhArAn AfricA (%)
Facebook Yahoo (net) Google (net) Mxit.co.za Twitter
question: Please write in the names of the three websites where you spend the most time.
70 40 35 13 11
lATin AMericA (%)
Facebook YouTube Google Orkut MSN (net) 50 40 37 34 20
ATTiTudes TowArds fAcebook (Top-2 boX %)
BASE: U.S. TEENS WITH FACEBOOK PROFILE Facebook changes its format/layout too often I feel out of touch if I have not been on Facebook in a few days Facebook is more popular now than it was six months ago I am more active on Facebook now than I was six months ago I’m worried about my privacy on Facebook I am getting tired of Facebook I think Facebook takes up too much of my time Facebook is an important part of my life I couldn’t live without Facebook
bolding denotes significant difference. question: Thinking about how you spend time on Facebook, how much do you agree or disagree with the following statements?
Total 56 46 43 41 41 40 40 37 22
Male Female 54 42 47 45 39 41 37 36 22 58 49 40 36 42 40 44 37 22
in An increAsinglY App-bAsed world, globAl Teens Are coMpuTing, buT less And less AT A coMpuTer.
Increasingly, being online is analogous to simply being. It’s rarely about seeking out and parking oneself in front of computer hardware: Desktops are well on their way to Obsolessence, while newer solutions such as smartphones and tablets are designed to be even more mobile than laptops. Today, it’s about the online experience, not the process. Global teens are on Facebook, Orkut, or Renren, and how they got there is, for them, immaterial. The emphasis is on computing, not the computer. Who cares if the message went out via email, text, IM, Skype, or call to confirm a meet time? Who can recall if a Facebook update was issued on a laptop, an iPad, or a Galaxy S III? The important thing is the message, not the method. True, smartphones (36% ownership worldwide) aren’t yet the norm, and tablets (11% ownership) remain an indulgent extravagance for most, but it’s clear what road we’re headed down. Purchase intent of desktop computers—the only onlinecompatible device that more than half of global teens currently own—is lower than that of laptops, smartphones, tablets, and even e-readers. Mobility and ever-present online access is increasingly vital to teens who’ve chosen to join the online conversation. After all, their profiles make it inevitable that they’ll be part of the discussion, whether they’re there to react or not. The only way to monitor and curate their social media presence—whether they’re being tagged in a photo, referenced in a tweet, or included in upcoming plans—is to be online, all the time and from everywhere.
be “sMArT” AbouT how You TreAT globAl Teens, now And forever.
Granted, the majority of global teens don’t own smartphones or tablets. But that’s where they were, not where they’re going. If you see a striker streaking across the center circle, you pass the ball in front of him (not to or behind him), because that’s where momentum is carrying him and that’s his best chance to score. The same goes for mobile marketing. If you’re a brand, don’t concern yourself with percentages when it comes to smartphone or tablet ownership. Just know this: it’s growing rapidly worldwide. In fact, the market intelligence firm HIS iSuppli forecasts that 2013 will mark the first year that smartphones will account for more than half of all cellphone shipments (54%, up from 46% in 2012, and 35% in 2011). So even if it’s global teens’ parents who are
accounting for most of the growth, youth aren’t shy about making the family’s technology their own (they’ve been doing it with TVs and desktops for years!). And when they’re finally able to trade in their starter phone for one of the “smart” variety, they’ll be that much more able to navigate it. Brands need to think less about where they’re appearing (e.g., Facebook or Twitter), and more about why a consumer should need them. What utility or entertainment value does a brand provide? Global teens have no end of new-mediarelated stimuli to digest, so asking a teen to divide his or her time between watching TV, texting, browsing, and being amongst friends, demands a “what’s-init-for-me” return on investment. Treating global teens less like K-I-D-S and more like V-I-P-S—with arsenals of discounts, deals, and front-of-the-line access— is paramount.
durAble iTeMs: ToTAl ownership (%)
Region Mobile phone Smartphone Desktop computer Laptop computer Tablet computer E-book reader
TOTAL GLOBAL 80 36 56 50 11 10
Asia Pacific 78 27 46 37 7 11
Australia 77 62 83 87 27 15
Europe 79 49 76 73 15 13
Latin America 86 27 61 46 7 3
MENA 92 50 79 58 23 13
North America 77 57 83 84 18 18
Sub-Saharan Africa 77 22 15 17 2 1
bolding denotes significant difference. questions: Which of the following do you personally own? Which of the following does your family own?
durAble iTeMs: purchAse inTenT (%)
Region Smartphone Laptop computer Mobile phone Tablet computer E-book reader Desktop computer
bolding denotes significant difference. question: Which of the following do you plan to buy in the next 12 months?
TOTAL GLOBAL 21 20 16 15 12 9
Asia Pacific 22 21 15 11 7 10
Australia 22 12 10 30 26 7
Europe 23 16 11 27 23 8
Latin America 20 24 20 10 2 8
MENA 18 24 29 17 14 9
North America 18 16 7 12 9 4
Sub-Saharan Africa 18 21 22 8 7 12
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