Adios adulthoodWritten by Claudette Munroe
Adulthood. The state of becoming fully mature or grown up. But what does this definition even mean?
At a guess, I suppose all roads conclude at a good education, a great job, getting married, buying the house, having kids, raising them well and then retirement…
However, we are starting to see future consumers break this mould, with blurring boundaries between generations suggesting that adulthood is in the process of being nullified and will be replaced by the ‘Perma-Youth’ in 2020 and beyond. We can see a pattern in the way our grandparents lived and even how our parents live today. Like clockwork, they would jump through hoops, ticking off boxes. Life plans are no longer about fitting into a mould bestowed upon us 60+ years ago. A recent article has even gone as far to say that people are richer, happier and healthier this way – just don’t tell Granny!
It is interesting to note how changes in consumer behaviour are pushing brands to re-think their positioning to appeal to future audiences. In a time where self-expression is seen as the stronger more attractive sibling to traditionalism – independence and authenticity reign supreme. Singledom is now considered natural evolution alongside job hopping, co-habiting, sexual openness, digital connection and a nomadic workforce.
I came across a billboard advertisement on the tube. The advert was for a dating app for the over 50s called Lumen. Let’s just take a moment to take it in. It’s hard to deny it is eye catching… and the striking image of the sexy Santa is somewhat… ’intriguing’ shall
Aesthetics aside, it was refreshing to see the older, single demo-graphic being portrayed in a fresh and contemporary way. It got me thinking that maybe a lot of marketing today is inherently ageist… do people really feel different to their younger selves as they get older? Or are we starting to redefine what adulthood means, thus rendering age as a criterion to mark ourselves by as redundant?
The dating app claims not to be another dull and boring senior dating site but is designed to be fun in a way that some of the more mainstream dating sites aimed at a younger demographic are. The sexy Santa ad was later changed to a Santa fully clothed as TFL reported the ad to sexually objectify the model…
At 1HQ we believe in the philosophy that people don’t just buy products, they buy meanings, experiences and stories. With the redefinition of adult-hood, we are no longer waiting for retirement to fulfil our dreams. As a society we want to do more, see more and experience absolutely everything. Expand your life and expand your mind is a mantra I hear often. There is a very visible movement to take on new challenges and it is driving consumers of all ages to reach new heights and uncover new passions.
Redbull is an excellent example of a brand that has expanded on its brand purpose that it ‘gives you wings’ and is seen as not only a brand that delivers a portfolio of highly caffeinated energy drinks, but as the brand synonymous with an action-packed adrenaline fuelled life, playing host to extreme sporting events as well as music festivals.
Destination Red Bull offers extraordinary trips around the world, with exclusive access to figures famously known for being adrenaline junkies. Examples include, Off Road and Roll rally biking with Dakar champ Matthias or even cliff diving with Orlando Duque as your personal coach on the Ozofres. Quite extreme for a little life enrichment but that’s just a taste of how brands are creating deeper routed connections with consumers and their ever-changing needs.
We are also seeing the 'Perma-Youth' trend filter into the music festival industry. Originally invented in the 60s by the hippie movement, festivals encouraged individuals to escape responsibilities and societal constraints of adulthood. Ironically, today the appeal has broadened, and festivals are enjoyed by people from all walks of life.
Many have counter-cultural roots and some, notably Burning Man in the Nevada Desert, try to be models of how society ought to be run. They are, as one study put it, “utopian havens” that provide a release from the pressures of normal life.
A new report found that there has been a 12% rise in audiences at live music events over the past 12 months, bringing in a whopping £4bn to the UK economy and pro-viding a welcome boost for the music industry suffering at
the hands of the digital era. Whilst the majority of festival goers were between the ages of 21 and 25, the second largest age group were 41-50 year olds. As detailed earlier, it’s evident that more ‘adults’ are seeking new experiences and feel at one with the younger generations in the love of music and culture. Families are increasingly including their kids in the festival experience which fans the flame that age doesn’t necessarily equate to ‘being grown up’.
People living in the moment and feeling comfortable to embrace their unique diversities and tastes is what’s making our future society so vibrant. I am very much an advocate of the ‘Perma-Youth’ generation and the fact I see everyone else in my demographic around me embrace it with arms wide open excites me. If brands can start to understand our shift in perceptions around age and better provide us with those meaningful experiences, then, and only then, will they make a stronger and more long-term connection with the future of ‘aging youth’ consumers.