April 22, 2015
Introduction: Forever Young
1. (noun): A highly influential group of over 80 million American citizens born between 1982 and 1998. They are currently aged between 18 and 34 and nearly all of them cannot remember a time when the Internet did not exist.
2. (verb): A movement of influential individuals who possess disruptive power over cultural, business, and political issues in the United States.
Youth is not just a state of mind; it’s the state of the art.
YouthNation is a new phenomenon. When America itself was young, there was no youth culture to speak of. There was no place set aside for young people to discuss and share things that were of particular interest to them. In most cases, young people were never really together as a group, and as a result, had no opportunity to form a culture that was unique to them. Historically, children were at home, sequestered away from other kids their own age, and by the time they were 10 years old were expected to take their place in the adult world of work. At the beginning of America, people weren’t young for very long.
In those days, the information about the world that young people received came only from adults. When they had problems or concerns, they shared it with their elders. It wasn’t until very recently from a historical perspective that young people were able to spend enough time with each other, separated and apart from the worldview of adults, to find the opportunity to be youthful. Even adolescence itself is largely a twentieth-century phenomenon.
As the middle class expanded, kids began spending longer and longer periods of time in classrooms, grouped by age, outside of the influence of adults. With growing middle-class family budgets, and a burgeoning industrial economy, kids suddenly had consumer power and an identity unto themselves. As a consequence, a youth culture began to emerge, and with it a specific language and a shared appreciation for the music, literature, movies, fashion, places, ideals, and activities that spoke directly to youth, because it came directly from youth.
Suddenly, youth culture had a voice and sought out channels of communication to express that voice. Through college radio stations, self-published magazines and newsletters, grassroots movements, or homebrew computer clubs, America’s youth found a way to communicate with one another, and began to establish their footprint on the culture of the adult world. But even as recently as the sixties and seventies, our nation’s youth remained a fringe culture with crude tools and few resources. It was, at most, a reaction against mainstream culture that lived on the outside looking in.
Today, far from a fringe or counterculture, our nation’s youth have become the driving force behind American innovation, growth, and competitive advantage globally. As a result of our technological revolution, we are now living in a YouthNation, and all the old bets are off. The power and influence of YouthNation stands to dramatically shift every business, consumer, politician, nation, city, town, and village around the world.
This epic shift is disrupting just about everything that we took for granted about the old economy:
- The importance of a college education
- The vision of the American dream
- What success actually means
- What and how we buy
- What and how we sell
- What brands must do to embrace this new national and global ethos and compete
YouthNation has broken free from the hold that big media and big advertising have had on culture, and completely transformed the approach that brands must take in order to appeal to today’s target market. The ripple effect from this monumental sea of change has and will continue to completely transform the way we work, play, and live, and is demanding and encouraging us all to be, in many ways, forever young if we want to compete.
So let’s be clear. For brands today, the old marketing models are over. The status quo is dead. Today’s rapidly shifting marketplace requires businesses to be agile, connected, authentic, artful, meaningful, immersive, and socially responsible. In other words, today, businesses have to embody the ideals of YouthNation, regardless of age or size, in order to succeed.
Excerpted with permission of the publisher, John Wiley and Sons, from YouthNation by Matt Britton.
Copyright © 2015 by MRY US, LLC.
All rights reserved.
ABOUT THE AUTHORMatt Britton is known throughout the advertising industry as an expert in social media marketing with a unique & deep domain expertise in the Millennial generation.
Matt currently serves as founder and CEO of New York-based MRY (formerly Mr Youth)—a world leading social media and youth marketing agency. Since founding the agency in 2002, Mr Youth has worked with some of the world’s leading brands—including P&G, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, & Visa —to help them connect with this rapidly evolving and highly elusive consumer.
Matt, 38, has grown MRY from a one-man startup to a company with over 600 employees worldwide.
In 2009, MRY was named the “Social Media Agency Of The Year” by Mashable.
In February 2010, MRY was named one of advertising’s 10 most innovative companies in the world by Fast Company.
In March 2011, MRY announced the launch and spin-off of CrowdTap, the world’s first on-demand brand participation network. AdAge later named CrowdTap one of the 8 hottest startups at SXSW. In July of 2011, CrowdTap announced $7MM Series A funding. In Decemer of 2011, Mashable named CrowdTap the up-and-coming social media service of the year.
In November 2011 MRY was acquired by LBi International for approx. $50 Million.
In December 2013 MRY was named “Digital Innovator Of The Year” by Mashable.
Matt often speaks at conferences and trade shows on trends and issues that affect the landscape of Millennial marketing. He has been featured on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, CNBC’s Power Lunch, USA Today, Brandweek, Event Marketer Magazine, Bloomberg Radio, CNNfn, PROMO Magazine and NBC.
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.