The Protein Youth Report

The Protein Journal Youth report is out and as the kids say it’s poppin. I had so much fun reading it I thought I’d summarize some key conclusions for later reference…..and to share of course. 

Ok, so is this going to be another report about millennials, their obsession with smashed avocado toasts and their entitlement? 

The answer is an overwhelming no. This report could not be further from that. It offers real insights based on a sample of 3 400 youth across the world (admittedly the global north); what the journal dubs ‘culturally progressive youth’. 

So what are the ‘trends’? 

  • Today’s culturally progressive youth is informed, inquisitive and self educating with a heightened awareness of race, gender and politics. 
  • They are cynical of big brands, global media and the establishment. 

What feels authentic to the youth? 

Common Control, Personal Refinement and Positive Failure. 

The report cites 6 key macro shifts in culture, politics and technology, shaping attitudes and behaviour: 

1. Common Control: subverting traditional hierarchies and crafting your own path. 

Trust is on the wane. Institutions and establishments are increasingly exposed for abusing their authority, while media and brands are scrutinised for misrepresenting and misleading society. In this post-truth world the youth have realised that, to make it as a generation, they’re going to have to subvert traditional hierarchies and craft their own path. 

2. Personal Refinement: collectively on their own. 

They are (collectively) on their own. They’ve realised that their best interests aren’t rep- resented or championed by those in power but they’re becoming increasingly conscious of their ability to actively improve the world they live in. From changes in representation to protesting against recent political developments, young people are shunning their apathetic associations. 

3. Positive Failure: progression not perfectionism

Progression, not perfectionism, is the new goal. There is an acute understanding that they’ve been dealt a bad hand by previous generations. But, rather than react with complaints or disbelief, they’re reacting with a potent combination of optimism and realism by taking a critical look at the portrayal of perfectionism and embracing failures as well as successes. 

4. Working it: defined by their perception of work, ability to self promote and ambition. 

Expectations of entrepreneurship are shaping culture. Digital first lifestyles have lead to a unique ability to launch incomplete ideas and to test and shape them with the support of a growing network. Past generations were defined by their entitlement but this generation is becoming defined by their perception of work, ability to self promote and ambition. 

5. Branded Existence: aggressively branded to generate desires, fascination and aspiration. 

Everything from the intimate to the generic is now a branded experience. From therapy (TalkSpace), beds (Casper), healthcare (Oscar), wellness (Headspace) and period panties (Thinx), to dermatologists (Spruce), office space (WeWork), Radio (Know Wave), transportation (CitiBike) and now even the office water cooler (Slack). Every product, service, interaction or transaction has become aggressively branded to generate desire, fascination and aspiration. This is having a profound effect on the way in which the youth are building their own personal brand of self. 

6. Fluid Culture: no longer defined by a single tribe.

Lifestyles are flexible not fixed. Individuals are no longer defined by a single tribe, they exist and belong within multiple subcultures. Tastes, interests and interactions are no longer secured to a single scene or locality, they move fluidly across cities, cultures and communities. Traditional demographic markers are no longer sufficient when it comes to categorizing or predicting behaviours or attitudes. 

The ideas of personal productivity and collective creativity were the most interesting to me. Youth is self realizing through authentically developing their body, mind, voice and identities. Placing value and importance on mental health, body positivity and a creation of identities in a world that feels increasingly stifling. Self improvement, anxiety management and professional development rank high on their list of priorities. There is more emphasis on collective creativity; creating for your community with your community through collaboration and co-creation. There’s increasing skepticism towards media, influencer culture and brands as evidence by the popularity of the ‘nothing about us, without us’ movement. The general consensus is that brands should be careful when treading political territory that is not theirs. Instead of further oppression and exploitation of struggles, brands should rather create spaces and provided resources for the oppressed to speak for themselves. 

Another interesting idea to me is using publication as representation. Here’s a direct quote from the report: 

Representation has always been a form of expressing power – from what one chooses to represent to how one chooses to represent it. As a logical response to ‘objective’ media misrepresenting them, the youth are taking up pens and creating their own publications. Oftentimes manifesting in print, these physical forms provide youth a space to archive and give the tales of their cultural histories a tangible place to exist in the world. 

What other concepts are emerging?

  • For us by us; safe spaces are more crucial than ever for the targeted to come together. Online platforms are used to instigate intellectual discourse and cultural exchange.
  • New identities: monolithic boxes are archaic and shunned while beautiful complexities and nuance are celebrated. 
  • Alternative Reality is being seen as a means of liberation and subversion with a new fetishisation of what is ‘fake.’ Here’s a direct quote for the report: 

Extending across the spectrum of corporate logos, designer garments, and commercial advertising, the concept of ‘Fetishising Fake’ is the latest appendage to remix culture. In the same way that remix culture appropriates digital content and concepts for new contexts, the fetishisation of fakes takes this principle to the next level, adopting an irreverence for anything sacred, mangling it, and creating something new in the process. By assuming the weight of pre-existing cultural notions and associations, this fetishisation offers new perspectives to how youth are reconfiguring their interactions with brands. 

There’s a whole lot more interesting and meaningful insights behind this report. If you have some time to spare, sign up and down load it here.



Nkgopoleng MoloiComment