Young people are screwed – should your brand care?

It’s tough being a young person right now. Think about it; cost of living is going up but wages aren’t, the jobs market is heavily suited in favour of older workers and it can take almost 20 years to save for a deposit to buy your first house.

In short, young people are screwed. That’s the claim made by this week’s guest Simon Lucey – founder of student marketing agency Hype Collective. And, when you look at the facts, it’s a pretty strong claim too.

We sat down with Simon to find out more why young people are screwed and what that might mean for brands. Should they even care about it? Might being aware of the plight of our young people lead to opportunities for brands to grow and have more resonance with younger audiences? And are there any brands already doing it well?

Show notes

Simon Lucey is the founder of Hype Collective, a student marketing agency that is tapped into student societies and sports teams, founded in January 2018. Follow him on Twitter or find him on LinkedIn. Also, find out more about Hype Collective on their website.

In Simon’s view, young people right now are screwed; they’ve had no wage improvement over the last fifteen years but the cost of living has gone up massively, it now takes between 16-19 years to save money for a deposit on a house so there’s an increasing reliance on bank of Mum and Dad – which is not equal, while the job market is currently worse for young people than older workers.

In our chat, we talk more about why young people are screwed and try to establish what that means for brands – do they need to be aware of it? Should all become value-led? Do brands need to even care at all?

Key points

Ben & Jerry’s are values-led, to the point where they ran a campaign in Poland around LGBT rights – the sort of thing that would actively led to them selling fewer products.

People forget how important the creative is in a marketing matrix – we’re all so obsessed by channels that it often gets overlooked. Not enough budget goes into the creative.

For any brands that are aware of the plight of young people – there are plenty of potential gains but also the risk of going wrong too. It needs to not look like a token gesture. The recent hook-up between Stormzy and YouTube Music to fund some scholarships for black students at Cambridge University is a great example of it being done well.

It’s all about working out how dangerous your brand can afford to be.

You can still have some aspirational messaging without losing the essence of your brand – look at how Pot Noodle has managed to combine motivation with, essentially, banter.

There’s a real chance that the vast majority of young people right now don’t actually realise that they are screwed.

The average University student doesn’t realise that there is a real risk that they’ll be poorer than their parents.

Over the next few years, young people will wake up to these issues and there will be a growing anger, so brands that do take a stand here are likely to do well.

Simon’s top three tips for brands who want to have real resonance with our screwed youth

Don’t let it all just come from your marketing team – your values need to filter throughout your entire business. Transparent organisations will do better.

Invest in great creative.

Get young people in your business some how – run focus groups, get them involved and find out what they want.


5 apps on your phone you use the most

Monzo banking, Google Maps, Ofo bikes, Slack and podcasts

4 people you’d like to invite round for dinner

Serena Williams, Tommy Cooper, Morgan Freeman and Arsène Wenger

3 words to describe what it’s like working for Hype Collective

Fun, quick and flexible

2 places/events in the world you’d really love to visit but haven’t been able to yet

Belize and Seoul, South Korea

1 social media platform you love more than any of the others

Strava – the exercise app

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