Wake Up — It’s the 21st Century, the Era of “YouthNation”


If you have yet to wake up to the fact that the business of marketing is changing dramatically, you need to read the book YouthNation.


When sent a copy of “YouthNation: Building Remarkable Brands in a Youth-Driven Culture” by Matt Britton, to review, I was half expecting just another book on marketing and branding using social media.

As it happens, the book does cover the use of social media as a key branding and marketing tool, but it goes much further than that, and will help the reader to understand the mindset and culture of today’s youth.

Matt Britton (@MattyB) is the owner and CEO of MRY, a successful branding agency with many high profile clients such as Visa, Coca Cola and Puma to name just a few.

What he shares throughout “YouthNation” is the need for businesses to recognize the social change that has taken place in the U.S., and the affect that this is now having on the way businesses must market and promote their brands to younger audiences.

Youth Nation Defined

“Youth Nation,” as Britton defines it, is:

“A highly influential group of over 80 million American citizens born between 1982 and 1998. They are currently aged between 18 and 34 and nearly all of them cannot remember a time when the Internet did not exist”.

Britton explains in detail how this latest generation of consumers has a completely different mindset and outlook on life to previous generations. Partly due to the effect of the 2008 financial collapse, their American dream is no longer centered on getting a college education and a job for life in corporate America.

Nor are they so keen to possess material status symbols. They don’t want to own two cars and a house in the suburbs. Generally, there’s no obligation to get married, either.

They have witnessed for themselves the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis, the disappearance of a job for life, and the ever increasing divorce rate of their parents’ generation.

Therefore, they prefer to rent, to stay single longer, and to pursue a non-corporate career. They would rather live in urban areas where they have access to major event, parties and where the news occurs. He writes:

“Reduced corporate benefits, decreasing corporate healthcare subsidies, and a weakened dependence on employers to provide tools and training, the attractiveness of corporate America looks to have lost its shine. Youth-Nation now has the power to create its own diversified opportunities for income without the hamstrings of a corporate entity. With a plethora of income options, easy access to tools and training, and a world where the next opportunity is merely a tweet away, we look to be entering a free agent society”.

Marketing to Youth Nation

As a result of this change in mindset, priorities and aspirations, the traditional marketing and branding methodologies are seen to be out dated.

Instead, Britton goes on to detail the new ways to connect with this highly influential group.

Nearly gone, he explains, are the days of television advertising. Instead, marketers must contend with a generation perpetually glued to their smartphones. Not surprisingly, to connect with them requires marketing and advertising using social media instead. And that marketing or advertising message must be engaging otherwise it will simply be “swiped” away due to the vast amount of other content available.

To engage them, content must be current and able to capture their attention instantly, Britton adds. Building a brand requires creating a great story with experiences rather than facts to gather a loyal following. And the ultimate goal is to create a following that will share your content by forwarding it from friend to friend. Britton writes:

“Today, however, consumers expect to hear from the brand directly. When a brand talks to consumers, it needs to sound authentic, interesting, and engaging.”

Britton goes on to say that rather than relying solely on demographics when targeting your advertising and marketing campaigns, it is now necessary to use “big data,” the complex data sets gathered from consumers by brands, the Internet and social media platforms.

In his epilogue, the author paints his vision of the future. And I must agree with the majority of what he sees. Whether you agree or disagree with this outlook, or believe it to be a bright future, you will need to read the book to see.


Normally I feel quite cheery after reviewing a book, but this one left me rather depressed. That’s not so much because of the content which will be of enormous benefit to all businesses prepared to change their marketing strategies. Rather, it depressed me because it made me feel old, and I believe that all the technological advances are making us a far less social society.

There are many Apps and sites mentioned within “YouthNation” of which I am either well aware, or have personally used. However, there are plenty of others detailed that I must confess to being ignorant about. But then again, I guess that comes from being from the previous generation!

About the Author

Matt Britton is a well known figure in the advertising industry and specializes in youth and social media marketing. He is the founder of MRY which was named the “Social Media Agency of The Year” by Mashable in 2009. For more information visit his website.

John Blunden John Blunden is a Book Reviewer for Small Business Trends. He is a British writer now living in South Africa where he successfully owned and ran a variety of businesses for several years before deciding to take up his passion for writing.