The Future of Generations: Myth 1

We at OMD UK recently released our white paper on our Future of Generations research. If you weren’t at the Soho hotel on Friday 16th then you missed out…

One of the most interesting sections spoken about was the myths surrounding age. I know I’m guilty of doing this as I’m sure a lot of you are too. We’ll be tackling the five myths we spoke about at the event, kicking off with:


Are the younger generations really that rude and materialistic? Well, according to the general public, yes they are with 73% of the total population agreeing that 16-19-year-olds are materialistic and 74% saying the same for 20-30-year-olds.

Funnily enough, when you ask these people to rate their own age group they agree with the stereotype; 80% of 16-19-year-olds think their age group are materialistic and 74% of 20-30-year-olds will agree.

When we touched on being generous and polite, overall the 20-30-year-olds don’t do too badly when looked at by the overall population with 53% being seen as generous and 70% being seen as polite. The 16-19-year-olds are definitely seen more negatively – only 34% are seen as generous and only 39% feel that they’re polite but why? Our qualitative research suggests that it could be to do with the fact young people are more likely to be on their phones all the time but is that the only reason?

I know you are, but what am I?

It really starts to get interesting when we ask people to rate themselves, we see that although these groups mostly agree with the preconceptions about their age group they feel this doesn’t apply to themselves and have very high self-perceptions.


As you can see a huge 97% of 16-19-year-olds see themselves as polite vs the rest of their category, this is also the same for the 20-30-year-olds. On all aspects everyone rates themselves very highly.

Is It Fair?

Are these perceptions fair to say? Although the younger generation has these negative aspects associated with them, the more we look into their values and beliefs we begin to uncover more evidence that suggests otherwise. For teenagers in particular when we begin to dive into what they stand for, it’s quite clear they’re more caring about the world around them compared to the general population.

16-19-year-olds are more positive about brands that support social causes and are far more in tune with the brands that support such causes. 46% of 16-19-year-olds argue that social value and ethics of a brand influences their choice vs 36% of the population – the same applies for volunteering work for good causes, with 53% having done some form of this in the last 12 months vs 28% of the overall population.

When we look at the older people in the category we see that 20-30-year-olds are more likely to have similar feelings and opinions to that of the general population. So, although the perception still stands that teenagers are selfish, rude and materialistic, when we investigate further we reveal a more complex set of values and beliefs – as our focus groups suggested, these negative emotions stem from their use of technology which has changed the way they communicate with each other and the world around them. With social rules and norms changing, it’s perhaps harder for the older generation to move at the same pace – but what’s yet to be seen is will this group fall behind as they move on into their 20’s or will the trend die with them?

As this group are so connected with what’s going on in the world around them due to being heavy users of social media, they’re more likely to get involved with charitable events or support brands that stand for something they believe in – if this carries on with the generation below them then companies that make their social and ethical views heard will be more likely to win these people over but time will tell.


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