The 2018 MRS Kids & Youth Research Conference has come and gone again! Last Thursday Hook Research trouped down to the Southbank to host a panel discussion about authenticity in the media and listen to a host of passionate researchers talk about something near and dear to our hearts: young people.
We walked away from the conference with our notebooks loaded with notes and ideas – we thought we’d share with you what we thought were the 3 big takeaways from this year’s MRS Kids & Youth Research Conference!
Letting kids take control
“Taking control” was certainly a big theme at this year’s conference.
Primarily, this was referenced in regards to young people taking control of their media consumption: as Ranja Mohyieldin from Turner pointed out in Hook Research’s panel discussion on ‘authenticity’, kids today want “the choice and control of watching whatever they want, when they want it.” The splintering media landscape has given young people the ability to curate bespoke viewing/listening experiences in a way that hasn’t been seen previously.
But the ‘control’ narrative at the MRS Kids & Youth Research Conference moved beyond an examination of young people’s curated media experience and towards a broader exploration of how they are taking more control of how they present themselves to the wider world.
Channel 4’s Ben Marsden and Radio 1’s Siobhan McMenemy conversed about the omnipresence of social media in young people’s lives and how Gen Z are now using these digital spaces to present multi-faceted identities to the real world. Emily Porter-Salmon’s (Sign Salad) discussion of gender fluidity and performance similarly highlighted the way that this younger generation are presenting a more nuanced understanding of identity.
It is this sense of control that IKEA has fruitfully tapped into with its latest kids-centric campaigns. The effusive Magnus Thyvesson spoke about how recent campaigns by the Swedish furniture giant were aimed at “empowering [young people] to control their environment” a space that has been traditionally taken out of the hands of children.
Changing the way we interact with kids and teens
As technology develops – and young people become accustomed to expressing themselves with novel tools and devices – researchers need to keep up.
Many presentations discussed how new habits (intrinsically connected with the penetration of smartphones among younger users) are influencing the ways that young people engage with friends and family members. These habits include: regularly using emojis to express their emotions; a willingness and ability to record and edit video content; and frequent use of multimedia chat/messaging spaces like whatsapp or snapchat.
Kantar, Freshminds, and YouthSight each touched upon how research needs to be constantly evolving and integrating these functionalities if it wants to “talk the language of young people” and gain insights into their lives and worlds.
Reiterating the importance of client/agency collaboration
A small point, perhaps, but (we believe) an important one…
It was great to hear from brands across the spectrum about how their relationships with research agencies around the world had given them unique insights into UK kids and teens. Better yet, these strategic partnerships had helped them shape their youth-facing strategies moving forward. It’s always nice to feel appreciated!
Looking forward to next year’s MRS Kids & Youth Research Conference
After such a great conference, we’re already getting excited for next year’s MRS Kids & Youth Research Conference! In the meantime, we’ll be applying the learnings from this conference to all of our work in 2018 (the 2nd takeaway has already gone into the development of our exciting new VoxBox tool).