MTV Europe Finds “Youthtopia”

MTV Europe recently published the results of "Youthtopia" - its first ever effort to understand the values, hopes and dreams of young people in Europe...

Paloma M. Vazquez
Paloma M. Vazquez on February 9, 2010. @pmvazquez

MTV Europe recently published the results of “Youthtopia” – its first ever effort to understand the values, hopes and dreams of young people in Europe by asking over 7,000 youths to imagine their ideal world. In order to make the study actionable for business – and not just interesting -respondents were asked to consider brands as people and whether those ‘people’ would be welcome in their eutopic world.

What makes this study relevant and interesting are two things.  The first might be of particular interest to Planners and researchers: how the insights themselves were gleaned.  In order to shed some light on the fundamental shifts in values, participants were invited to re-write some of the oldest rules for human behavior, and to take a critical look at their peers’ – resulting in the 10 Commandments of Youth.  On the flip side, they were asked to identify the Modern Day 7 Sins.  Surprising (and disheartening to this writer) was the fact that sloth, lust and pride are widely considered positive attributes that can fuel progression and strengthen one’s standing in contemporary culture.  Finally, a series of tasks were devised to scope out the key areas of young people’s lives – ultimately identifying several mindsets responsible for defining the hopes and dreams behind a Youthtopian ideal – and their attitudes and behavior.  They share just a few of the self-perceived truths about ‘the youth of today’ here – vs. the media’s impression.

The second inspiring idea behind MTV Europe’s study is the Youthtopian brand equity model it resulted in, and what it reveals.  The notion that brands have the opportunity to engage and connect with consumers by figuring out what they value – and finding a way for the brand to address that – is a hot conversation topic, as we heard last week during New York Social Media Week.  The Youthtopian brand equity model suggests that brands measure their value based on how they help their customers realize their ambitions and support their hopes and dreams.  And the research ultimately strives to identify what those hopes, dreams and desires that brands should be mindful of are.

While the study focuses on European youth, US-focused brands can still glean some insights from this study, given the relatively Global notions it captures – the need for corporate responsibility, values and consciousness is not unique to European youth.y