Looking Back:
Youth in 2017

22.12.2017 Youth : Digital : Generation Z

Eco-activists who made an impact, teaching children about data privacy and the young Muslim opportunity were just some of the youth highlights of this year.

The Trend: Chat Fiction

Hooked app, Global

Storytelling took on a new format in 2017, with chat fiction becoming a popular new way for younger consumers to read.

The premise of chat fiction is to present fictional narratives in the medium that teenagers most often engage with: their messaging apps. In July 2017, reading app Wattpad launched Tap Originals, a dedicated app that tells stories via text message conversations, voice notes and images.

‘People say that reading is dying, but that’s not because the demand is dying. It’s because the way in which young people live, communicate and think is changing, and fiction must adapt to stay relevant to their lives,’ explained Prerna Gupta, co-founder of Hooked, a pioneer app in the field.

​The Big Idea: Eco-influencers

Instagram of Elizabeth Farrell, Glacier Girl Instagram of Elizabeth Farrell, Glacier Girl
Green Box Shop by Kayla Robinson Green Box Shop by Kayla Robinson
Tolly Dolly Posh Instagram Tolly Dolly Posh Instagram

Far from being disengaged, Generation Z is proving to be a generation of activists. Its members are using the tools they know best, such as social media, to become influencers on serious causes such as climate change.

This year one young eco-influencer, Canadian teen Ann Makosinski, appeared on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list for developing a battery-free torch powered by hand heat. Another, Kayla Robinson, came to prominence for her ethically sourced t-shirts, which bear slogans such as ‘Climate change is real. Trump is a hoax’ and ‘Animals are not ingredients’.

The Space: Delete

EMERGE installation at DELETE by Iregular, Montreal EMERGE installation at DELETE by Iregular, Montreal
IDENTIFY installation at DELETE by Iregular, Montreal. Photography by Giacomo Ferron IDENTIFY installation at DELETE by Iregular, Montreal. Photography by Giacomo Ferron
Installation at DELETE by Iregular, Montreal. Photography by Giacomo Ferron Installation at DELETE by Iregular, Montreal. Photography by Giacomo Ferron

A continuing debate surrounds how younger children will interact with data being created both by the children themselves and by their parents. In early 2017, Delete, an exhibition at Youtheatre in Montreal, aimed to educate children on how their digital and physical lives intersect.

The interactive exhibition used data collected at the beginning of the exhibition to personalise the experience for each visitor. At the end, the children were asked if they wanted to delete the data they originally submitted, encouraging them to reflect on the information they had provided.

‘Our goal is for children to realise that you have to take responsibility for everything you submit to the virtual world,’ said exhibition co-creator Daniel Iregui. ‘It is not just a game, it is actually important.’

​The Campaign: Don’t Be Quiet Please by adidas

Don’t Be Quiet Please by Adidas and Pharrell Williams, New York

Brands taking on more civic responsibility was one of the key trends of 2017 and the adidas Don’t Be Quiet Please campaign aimed to encourage more young people to take up tennis, considered an elite sport by many. The ad aims to subvert the sense of privilege associated with tennis by reclaiming the ‘quiet please’ order often issued by umpires on the courts.

Alongside the advert, which features Pharrell Williams, adidas also pledged to help fund the restoration of a Brooklyn tennis court, as well as creating scholarship programmes with Brooklyn tennis club Court16 and Horizons, a non-profit-making organisation that supports children and teenagers from underprivileged backgrounds.

The Interview: Shelina Janmohamed on Generation M

RŪH Collective RŪH Collective

This was the year when it became clear that faith and modernity can go hand in hand, especially when it comes to young Muslim consumers. Shelina Janmohamed, the vice-president of Islamic branding consultancy Ogilvy Noor, spoke at our Retail Futures Forum in February 2017 about the rise of what she calls Generation M, the young generation of Muslims whose affluence and influence should not be discounted.

One of the key take-outs from Janmohamed's interview was the need to cater for these consumers throughout the year, not just during religious holidays such as Eid. ‘These are young Muslims crying out to buy products and services and spend their money with the brands that can respond to their needs,’ she said.

Download the Future Forecast PDF

Now that you know where youth culture has been, find out where it is headed next year. Download our Future Forecast 2018 report here.