YOUTH AND RELATIONSHIPS
The youth today are rapidly embracing new freedoms and values at the same time there is a desire to avoid conflict and maintain good inter generational relationships. The importance of friends is exhibited by the fact that they spend more time with friends and peers than with any individual family member, but when forced to choose between the two, family still wins in majority of the situations, especially for girls.
Moving from major metros to mini metros the family bonds grow still stronger. While friends are critical influencers for everyday choices, eg fashion, fads, entertainment and technology, when it comes to the most important decisions such as college, career or marriage they rely only on family.
Relationships with the opposite sex take the centre stage in the short term as the youth moves from a restricted school environment to the college environment, essentially moving out of uniforms that almost all of them hate to the freedom that is experienced in colleges. Colleges are the time to get into relationships, however they are very clear that the first few relationships are more experimental in nature and that these are not going to last a life time. If either of the partners tries to take a long-term perspective to initial relationships in colleges; each gender has their top three ways to scare their girlfriend/boyfriend away!
While friends play key influencers and companions, the role of Maa has not diminished at all. Both in metros and mini metros, it’s the mother who not only manages (read covers up) for her children at home, but also shops for their clothes and the one thing that the youngsters miss the most is “maa ke haath ka khaana” when they move cities for studies or their first jobs. A lot of them will not marry their love interest if the family will not approve of it.
YOUTH MERGE ENTERTAINMENT AND TECHNOLOGY
In terms of media consumption in 1990’s, television channels decided what viewers watched, yesterday viewers chose what they watched and today the youth is watching what their friends are watching, TV has gone social!
The class of 2011 is not consuming television in their drawing room with their families but is sharing their thoughts, comments and criticism instantaneously via text messaging or multitude of social media at their fingertips and creating a social viewing experience unparalleled in history of young audiences in any previous generation. TV viewing has assumed a viral social nature and adds up to the viewership of good television.
They are also in constant need for information and guidance; surprisingly they tend to greatly learn from reality shows on television and brands. The learning that they gather range from how to deal with a cheating partner, how to talk with strangers, how to style themselves for a first date, get their fashion cues, language to be used. Movies too help them shape their identity and news channels help them understand the world around them.
The internet is credited with bridging the knowledge divide between youth in metros like Mumbai, Delhi and say a Lucknow, but in these two urban environments we find the equivalent of “socio-demographic twins” as both land in the same soc dem classification but belong to different social milieus due to apparent difference in exposure to material means to express their newfound economic might.
BRANDS AS MENTORS FOR THE YOUTH
The class of 2011 can be classified as Identity Seekers and herein comes in the role of brands to help them define their values. Brands are very important for them to project themselves in their peer group. Brands are consumed in a VFM manner and costly brands are for special occasions, whereas for regular interactions like college etc. Unbranded garments are ok. Here too a very special distinction is maintained between products that chemically react with skin and hair and those that don’t. As skin and hair is the most important outward symbol of themselves.
YOUTH AND THEIR PRIORITIES
Financial security is topmost in their mind and hence good grades as well as admission into prestigious Engineering/Management institutes take most of their mindspace. The key focus is on individualism and they wish to deal with issues that touch them personally. So they may seem to be concerned with green issues, global warming but they are most concerned with corruption, their enemy number one in realising their dreams. In this space the outwardly carefree young generation exposes its greatest insecurities and fears; perhaps this explains the huge public outcry in favour of Anna Hazare who is seen as a crusader against corruption.
The research has given these and many more insights through the innovative methodology used, wherein Bindass observed the youth of India in an unobtrusive manner.