Study: Youth Obsession Waning?

Discussion
Jul 23, 2012

With Boomers getting crotchety and the top end of the Millennials range reaching their mid-thirties, society’s obsession with youth is over, according to a global survey by Euro RSCG Worldwide.

According to a survey of 7,213 adults across 19 countries, just about three-quarters expressed the belief that society has grown much too youth obsessed. The opinion was shared not just by the older set but also by six in 10 Millennials (18-34). Only 23 percent of the sample said they plan to fight aging every step of the way, compared with the more than three-quarters (77 percent) who said they intend to age gracefully. Around two-thirds — including 75 percent of those aged 55+ — said they won’t just accept aging, but will actually "embrace it and all that comes with it."

Euro RSCG Worldwide noted that the findings come with people not only living longer, but modern lifestyle changes — including a tendency to stay in school longer, start careers later, and marry and procreate later — pushing back the onset of old age. According to the findings, today’s middle age doesn’t even begin until 48, with old age not starting until 71.

Among other findings:

  • Nearly six in 10 respondents in the global sample (59 percent) say they feel younger than their age, and 55 percent believe they look younger than most of their peers;
  • Fifty-nine percent of U.S. respondents agreed with the statement, "I still feel connected to youth; there’s no big difference in the things I like";
  • Only 19 percent were even moderately worried about losing their looks;
  • Just one in five have had or would consider surgical enhancements to look younger.

"The demographic shift the world is currently undergoing will have significant consequences for virtually every consumer-facing industry, as people come to grips with living for decades past their primes," said Marianne Hurstel, vice president, Euro RSCG’s BETC and global chief strategy officer, in a statement. "As marketers, we need to do what we can to ease these fears — and make sure people are aware of all the tools at their disposal to help them maintain their health, fitness, finances, and independence as long as possible."

Discussion Questions: To what degree do you agree that society’s youth obsession is waning? Can you come up with some obvious and less obvious ways retail and consumer brand marketing may have to change?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

10 Comments on "Study: Youth Obsession Waning?"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Dick Seesel
Guest
9 years 10 months ago

Retailers’ focus on the young customer will never wane completely, but smart apparel companies are trying to broaden their appeal. (The “fast fashion” retailers like H&M, Zara and Uniqlo are probably doing a better job than their U.S.-based counterparts like Aeropostale and Abercrombie.) There will still be a place for junior trend retail: After all, “Millenials” will be the parents of teenagers someday too.

Liz Crawford
Guest
9 years 10 months ago

It will be nice when we aren’t so youth-focused, but I think this trend is a little premature (ha!).

As the populations of both Europe and North America age (and they are), many of the images in media will shift slightly older to reflect the audience. But — let’s face it — these images will reflect an ideal of aging, an ideal face and frame, an ideal of wealth and lifestyle. The reality of an aging population also involves sickness and poverty for many. That reality may not be as entertaining as “first love” or high school glee club.

Ryan Mathews
Guest
9 years 10 months ago

I’m not totally sure this isn’t a joke … but assuming it isn’t … it’s laughable.

This study reinforces rather than disproves the fact that we live in a youth-obsessed world. Of course these people don’t think youth is important since they believe they enjoy its primary advantages — looking younger, feeling younger and thinking younger. In other words — they are so obsessed with the attributes of youth they can’t admit they are starting to lose them.

Middle age doesn’t start until 48? Let’s parachute the average 47-year old into Cabo for Spring Break and see how well they do fitting in with their fellow young people!

This strikes me as a survey of adults suffering from denial. They see youth (measured in chronology) as less important because they believe they look as good as they always did. Either this study found 7,213 genetic miracles or it should be quietly set aside where it can’t hurt anyone.

Good laugh for a Monday morning though!

Mel Kleiman
Guest
9 years 10 months ago

One of the most interesting sentences in this article: “As people come to grips with living for decades past their primes…”

The major point should be that people see prime just lasting longer.

The real question: Is the market really youth oriented or is it marketers who are youth oriented?

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
9 years 10 months ago

The eternal summer of youth shall not expire. While I am no longer young enough to know everything, I believe society’s obsession with youth isn’t fading, only receding like a hairline.

“Early youth” is a period of missed opportunities and now “later youth” has extended both life and the productive use of it. That gives new horizons to advanced targeted retail and marketing efforts.

Nikki Baird
Guest
Nikki Baird
9 years 10 months ago

I’m with Mel. Youth obsessed? I don’t really understand what that means. Whether there is a lot of them or a few of them, isn’t one major reason why males 18-35 are a prime target is because they have cash to spend? That’s not going to change no matter how big or small the demographic may end up being, generational.

The challenge is, as media and reach fragment, to find those prime slivers of demographics or interest groups that also have money to spend and offer these people things they want to buy. Those segments have always been out there — this just sounds like a jab at marketers to remind them to look for these other segments too, instead of focusing on the (relatively) easy ones.

Marge Laney
Guest
9 years 10 months ago

Fighting the inevitable is definitely a fool’s errand, but will that stop us? I don’t think so and the beauty business is proof. We spend billions each year trying to look younger, fresher, with fleeting success, but we keep buying, hoping for the silver bullet. Hope is a lousy strategy for most things, but it’s really all we’ve got on this one.

This survey reminds me of the McDonald’s research that produced the McLean in the ’90s. The majority said they wanted to eat healthy if only given the chance! It was a huge flop, as people we’re only giving the idea of healthy eating lip service.

So as far as embracing getting old, I think most people really think it’s a great idea for everybody else but them.

Max Goldberg
Guest
9 years 10 months ago

As usual, Ryan nailed it. The survey proved that people want to be young. Retailers and brands need to enable that desire through their offerings and advertising.

James Tenser
Guest
9 years 10 months ago

Here’s fresh evidence that youth marketing is wasted on the young. In affluent, post-industrial economies, aging boomers labor to maintain their white-knuckle grip on cultural dominance. Extending the end-of-youth threshold is part of the strategy. It helps to control most of the spending power.

It’s also clear that young people hold much greater demographic influence in some of the emerging economies. Worldwide, 30% of the population was under 15 years of age in 2010, compared with 21% in the U.S.

So I’m pretty much with Ryan when it comes to interpreting the significance of these survey results. Chronologically younger people may have different consumption priorities as compared with older folks, but in our culture the mythology of youth persists until hip means titanium and pill-popping means Viagra.

Mike Osorio
Guest
Mike Osorio
9 years 10 months ago

Respectfully, we need to question either the validity of the survey, or how it has been interpreted. As someone who works in the international luxury retail space, I can assure you that sales of products aimed at helping people realize their youth-enhancing ideal are accelerating not decelerating. In all cultures, on all continents, both male and female. Nothing indicates a near or mid-term slowdown.

wpDiscuz

Take Our Instant Poll

How much do you agree or disagree that society’s youth obsession is waning?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...