Much of my daily activity is centred about youth culture and market research – it’s indefineably valuable to my work and my ministry, especially over the last 3 years. I find that when you line up the increasingly available research and ideas on adolescent development with the emerging research into youth culture and marketing strategy, there are some unique insights that when applied to your specific community can really help you identify key aspects of success as well as methods/insights to simply help us talk better to young people. For example, the following articles/studies have been really stirring my brain activity just recently.
“Contemporary youth should now be defined as ‘the absence of functional and/or emotional maturity,’ reflecting the fact that accepting traditional responsibilities such as mortgages, children and developing a strong sense of self-identity/perspective is occurring later and later in life.”
“The study identified three distinct stages of youth: “Discovery” (16-19 years old), “Experimentation” (20-24 years old) and “Golden” (25-34 years old), and found that the youth market has grown to include all three as the differentiation between traditional demographic groups has become blurred through lifestyle choice and spending power.”
What are the implications of these changing sectors for our youth and young adult ministries?
In fact, it could be said that these studies support by inference, my hypothesis that life-stage ministry to the young adult sector is misplaced, that in fact it could nurture stasis & stagnation rather than helping transition young people through the extending corridor of youth to adulthood.
What can we identify as key issues for this market from our ministry perspective considering the conflict between ‘common sense’/social expectation and actual desire?
We are not in it alone : there is a wide pool of sociological, communication, psychological and human behaviour theory available from reputable sources in practical, digestable form. Think about how to apply the information, patterns and understanding gleaned from these resources, alongside our theological, communal and hermeneutical practices. The pool of knowledge is wide, enjoy it, don’t limit the resources that may provide helpful lenses and unique insight.. instead apply discernment liberally and grace generously.
27 is the ideal age to buy a house (25 in the UK, 33 in Japan).
22 is the ideal age to buy a car (20 in the US and UK, and 29 in China).
26 is the ideal age for love (25 in Saudi Arabia and 28 in Mexico).
23 is the ideal age to get a credit card (20 in the US)
19 is the ideal age to travel without parents (25 in Saudi Arabia).
27 is the ideal age to be a parent.
20 is the ideal age to lose your virginity (no differences by region).
22 is the ideal age to move out on your own.
26 is the ideal age to start saving for retirement
Youth Trust – How To Lose And Abuse It is a another great piece of brand wisdom that has great implications and insight for working with communities and groups of young people.
Brands lose it with young people when they:
* (1) Value inconsistency:
* (2) Saying not doing:
* (3) Took consumers for granted:
* (4) Failed to control: (the market – brand is overrun by affliates) – ??
* (5) You got lazy:
* (6) Your marketing was merely a sweet topping on an unpalatable dish.