Monday, March 06, 2006

BBDO Finds USA Teens Among the Most Conservative in the World


Press Release
Source: Energy BBDO

An American Outlier: Energy BBDO Finds USA Teens Among the Most Conservative in the World

Tuesday February 28, 10:00 am ET

CHICAGO, Feb. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- What ever happened to good old teenage rebellion? The USA, the global birthplace of that notion, has officially turned a conservative corner in its history.

According to Energy BBDO (, which fielded the GenWorld Teen study in 13 countries, USA teens appear to be more traditional and conservative than many of their global counterparts, including teenagers from India, China, Germany and France.
In questions about their values and expectations in life, American teens overall emphasize morality and family. The majority list "living by high moral standards" as a top life expectation - 58% of USA teens versus 33% of teens globally. Forty-five percent believe it is best to remain a virgin as long as possible versus 22% globally.

Marriage and kids are among their top life expectations: 83% expect to get married (vs. 58% globally); 74% expect to be a parent (vs. 52% globally).
American teens are more religious than teens in any of the other countries studied. They are much more likely to believe in God, more likely to consider themselves religious and more likely to have attended a religious service in the past 30 days than other teens around the world.

Religion and Teens

Global USA
Believe in god 48% 72%
Consider themselves religious 23% 42%
Attended a religious service in the past 30 days 23% 51%
Not all USA teens fit this pattern however.
Instead, a "Blue Teen/Red Teen" phenomenon seems to be occurring. Chip Walker, study author, teen expert and executive vice president planning director at Energy BBDO explains, "The 'Culture Wars' seem to have been passed down to the next generation. About half of USA teens qualify as Red Teens with strong conservative views, while the remaining half, Blue Teens, emphasize individuality and tend to reject tradition."
Walker continued, "This is not the 1950's all over again but there is a craving among some teens for a more wholesome life."

However, "Red Teens" do not fit all of the conservative stereotypes. While they are more likely to believe in God (89% vs. 55%), and believe that abortion is never justified (40% vs. 12%), they are not living cloistered lives.

Many Red Teens Defy Conservative Stereotypes

Red Teens are as likely as their peers to enjoy shopping, playing sports and eating in fast food restaurants. They are avid participants in media and pop culture: 97% watch TV, 95% listen to music, 95% watch movies at home, 68% go to movie theatres, 93% spend time on the Internet, and 68% play video games. Their beliefs reflect changing cultural norms and gender roles: only 23% believe in following traditional gender roles; only 4% believe a woman must have a child to be fulfilled; a third feel as comfortable with gay people as with straight people. Nearly half say that they are "often among the first to try something new." In terms of the cliques they hang with, they self- identify as "athletic," "smart," even "cool" or "popular" kids, not just part of the "religious" crowd.

Still, does this rise in conservatism mean American teens are slipping off the trendsetting charts? "Not necessarily," says Walker. "From WWJD to Jesus is My Homeboy t-shirts, these teens are starting their own trends."

"To have this kind of cultural divide requires its own media, its own voices, its own trendsetters, so that brands today will need to consider this cultural dividing line as they're targeting teens in the United States."

In fact, evidence suggests that brands are being forced to one side or another in the culture wars. Based on positive brand ratings, Blue Teens who are more non-traditional, tend to gravitate towards innovators such as Sony, Amazon, Apple, Ebay, Yahoo and AOL. While Red Teens stick to more wholesome, tried-and-true brands such as Gap, Kellogs, Kraft, Nestle, Disney, and Doublemint.

Walker continued, "Brands that can learn to address Red Teens in a contemporary way will stand to be big winners in today's increasingly conservative USA marketplace."
GenWorld Teen Study commissioned by Energy BBDO gauged the lifestyle, values attitudes and brand perceptions of 3,322 teens aged 13-18 in 13 countries around the world. Countries included: USA, Mexico, Brazil, U.K., France, Germany, Spain, Australia, Russia, Poland, China, Taiwan, and India. The study was fielded over the summer of 2005 and administered in participants' indigenous language. An on-line methodology was used in developed countries where Internet access is widely available and an in-person methodology was used in developing countries. The sample was balanced male and female, with older and younger teens equally represented and reflected broad socioeconomic status (A, B, C social classes based on DRI's Purchasing Power Parity buying ratings including all households with the PPP buying power equivalent of $7,500 USD).
Source: Energy BBDO


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