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Travel & Leisure: Aspirational lifestyles don’t appeal to young people

It seems that nowadays you have to be superhuman to remain immune to social media-induced lifestyle jealousy. Holiday photos, dream jobs and food porn bombard us from all directions. The ‘curated self’ that typifies social media profiles may well be starting to wear thin.

Indeed, this is reflected in the findings of Youth State, our new research initiative, which investigates youth culture in the UK. We found that 64% of 16-24 year olds are sick of people creating a perfect image of themselves online; they see it as a lie. And a further 52% think celebrities who portray a perfect image with no flaws are bad role models. These young people do not want an idealized, aspirational lifestyle rammed down their throats.

Becoming champions of reality

Authenticity is therefore a valuable quality when targeting this audience. Brands in the travel and leisure industries can use this insight to position themselves ahead of the curve and act as champions of reality. Promote unfiltered holiday snaps, poke fun at food photographers, steer clear of glossy bikini pics. Ultimately, avoid trying to present a perfect picture for the edited album of life.

Fun as a learning experience

Contrary to expectations of young adults, the report also reveals that today’s 16-24 year olds are focused and ambitious, with a large proportion of the respondents describing themselves as ‘intelligent’, ‘hardworking’ and ‘determined’. They value their education hugely: 78% say that their education has a positive impact on their lives, and 55% feel the same about their fledgling careers. We are dealing with a group who value personal development, which has an immediate bearing for travel and leisure brands.

There is an opportunity here to tap into this conscientious mindset and show that a fun isn’t only about escapism and relaxation, but could simultaneously offer exploration and a valued learning experience.

Helping young people invest in relationships

However, this isn’t to say this is a generation who never want to kick back and have fun. They have a playful, fun-loving side too; many said their friends would describe them as ‘fun’, ‘funny’, ‘bubbly’ and ‘friendly’. And personal relationships are hugely important to them. A majority of 71% rated their relationships as contributing positively to their lives. Spending time with their friends and family is important to them and their free time is likely filled with large amounts of socialising.

Leisure time can therefore be presented as the perfect opportunity to invest quality time in these relationships, or even expand social groups by meeting new people.

Beware the impossible dream

Finally, despite social media pressure to accumulate enviable life experiences, this audience is unlikely to be financially secure enough to jet off to far-flung corners of the world: 50% of respondents said their personal finances are actually holding them back from the life they want to lead right now.

So beware of dangling an impossible dream in front of them. Affordable schemes such as group discounts or price reductions for referring a friend are likely to hold particular appeal for high-priced leisure activities.

Acting on these insights

These observations have profound implications for communicating with young people – in content marketing and beyond! For more insights into the diversity of 16 to 24 year olds, particularly getting beyond the myths surrounding millennials and understanding the distinct identity of the subsequent Gen Z, check out of the full Youth State report.