What advisors can learn from Google's guide to teens

May 17, 2017 by Andy Penkalski

A young couple having coffee

about the author:

Andy Penkalski

Marketing manager

Andy oversees all automated marketing initiatives. He is interested in always discovering new tools for brands and businesses to more effectively reach their audience and improve metrics for success within their own organization.

Google recently published an expectedly thorough report on the preferences of the modern teen. Generated via several surveys coordinated with YouGov, the aptly titled "It's Lit: A guide to what teens think is cool" identifies superficial trends in cultural facets like brand favorability while also digging deeper into how more abstract concepts like "beauty" or "knowledge" are generally perceived.  

Naturally, this report's ultimate purpose is to be parlayed into business insights. With that, Google successfully demonstrates just how diverse generational perspectives have become by juxtaposing the modern teen (or Generation Z) with Millennials– an audience that the financial services industry has just recently been encouraged to anticipate as major generational wealth transfers begin to take place. Try to keep up, financial advisors.

Money is not "cool"

Google's report kicks off by trying to pin down what is currently falling under that ever-shifting "cool" umbrella. According to Google, something is cool "if it's unique, impressive, interesting, amazing, or awesome. Something becomes cool when it brings joy or happiness." 

When applied to a wide range of subjects and disciplines, technology and media/entertainment both are perceived as uniformly cool regardless of the survey participants’ gender. Money is a subject that falls uniformly on the uncool side of the spectrum.

This financial disregard is probably the most adorably juvenile data point in the study, but more surprising is how widely technology as a capability is so essential to a generation's daily existence that it can usurp so many other historic "cool" indicators like clothing and sports.

Cool or uncool, they know tech

Another large portion of this report scatterplots 122 brands– spanning everything from restaurants to media outlets– based on how aware the surveyors are of the brand and how "cool" they perceive the brand. In both Gen Z and Millennial surveys, tech companies dominate the other industries in both coolness and awareness.

The fact that Uber and Lyft see notable boosts for the Millennial graph demonstrates just how heavily technology services different needs for different generations. Aging Millennials may not share their Millennial successors' fondness for WhatsApp, but they're also much more interested in how they can easily check their bank accounts, 401(k), and mortgage balance all in one spot.

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