19th August 2020

New Research Shows Teenagers as Socially Aware, Considered and Savvy

London, New York, Singapore, Shanghai, August 5th 2020: The common perception of young people as a care-free, thoughtless and sometimes irresponsible demographic is in stark contrast with the findings of new research focusing on teenagers from WPP agencies Mindshare, MediaCom and Wavemaker.

The report has uncovered 7 archetypes: Confident Aspirers, Self-Assured Rebels, Socially-Aware Butterflies, Virtual Virtuosos, Future Proofers, Trend Setters and Content Addicts (see descriptions below) and finds that far from being irresponsible, today’s teenagers are well informed, socially aware, considered and savvy when it comes to making financial and life decisions.

Today’s teenagers do not know life without a wealth of information readily available at their fingertips, allowing them to be self-reliant and in control of their decision-making as well as having strong, personal and highly individual aspirations. They prioritise having a job they love (81%) over any need to conform to expectations of parents (36%) for their choice in careers and they also value the role of education in helping them achieve this (70% agree).

However, growing up with the consequences of a global recession means these ambitions are underpinned by a strong need for financial security and realism, with 56% of our sample saying they had put money into savings in the last month, ranging from 77% in India to 35% in the UK.

They are extremely savvy shoppers, with 60% saying that they fully research a product before they buy it and 54% agreeing that they don’t buy things spontaneously as they like to know more details first. The current global environment is likely to further embed teenage attitudes towards financial security, with this highly informed audience acutely aware of the damaging impact of coronavirus on the world economy, levels of unemployment and therefore the increased potential of getting into financial difficulties in the future.

Personally curated content is their language of social exchange. Teens choose how to individually express themselves online and to appear interesting, well-liked and attractive to friends/family. Ensuring content is “social media ready” is of huge importance and teens regularly edit content (applying filters / enhancements) to portray the “best” version of themselves online. On average, each teenager uses 2.1 editing features, rising to 2.5 for Socially-Aware Butterflies and 2.7 for Trendsetters.

However, Teens take active responsibility for what they post online to answer their concerns about online privacy, with 62% taking time to consider what they post online in case it offends others. Aware of the potentially harmful future impact of their digital data, they only share personal content with a close circle of friends (80%) and family (63%), with almost no sharing beyond this. Online bullying is also a major concern for 61% of Teens.

Today’s teenagers are also the only age group to grow up from babies with the iPhone and social media and they crave this digital social connection, the ability to share their lives, thoughts and emotions with others in the moment and to be constantly informed and updated about the lives of others. In fact, 64% would rather eat the same food for the rest of their life than be without social media!

As a result of this upbringing, Teenagers simply can’t afford to be out of touch for a moment and risk missing out on something, with 67% stating they would rather have super-fast Wi-Fi than infinite battery – because the latter can be solved, but the former is imperative for instant connectivity. With teens, FOMO (fear of missing out) has become FOBO (fear of being offline).   

Many of the identified behaviours and attitudes of teenagers in the report are likely to be more deeply cemented due to the pandemic, with many learning new skills such as creativity, adaptability and managing ambiguity, that will last with them through to adulthood.

“People often use the term ‘Millennials’ for young people, which is just lazy,” said Victoria Cook, Global Head of Audiences, Mindshare Worldwide. “The youngest Millennials are already 24 and the oldest are just turning 40 - the idea they represent the ‘youth’ of today is just wrong. Teenagers show very different behaviours from the old Millennial stereotype. We can’t assume the youth of yesterday is the youth of tomorrow and brands need to make sure they understand this generation now, so they don’t alienate their consumers of the future.”

“Understanding the cultural nuances behind teen’s universal behaviours is key to helping our clients communicate impactfully with teenagers in different places across the world, said Catherine Day, Global Insights Director, MediaCom. “We’re uniquely positioned to understand these differences through our Cultural Connections insights.”

For more information please contact [email protected] | +44(0)7826869312

The Seven Teenage Archetypes (not mutually exclusive):

Confident Aspirers

Highly aspirational and already thinking about their career. Enjoy pushing themselves and taking on new challenges. Do not need approval from friends or family for decision-making. Instead, life decisions are based on what is right for them. Highly value education but concerned about cost.

Self-Assured Rebels

Satisfied with their life right now and confident in who they are. Culture and tradition are important to them, but they also like to push boundaries/rules. Overall, it’s important that others think well of them.

Socially-Aware Butterflies

Maintaining an online social image that receives views and likes is important to them, but they are also cautious about what they post in case it offends others or negatively affects them in the future. Online bullying is also a concern.

Virtual Virtuosos

Very heavy and highly savvy, internet users. Comfortable protecting their online privacy, blocking adverts and not taking everything at face value, although can be shocked by what people share. Happier using online spaces to share their emotions.

Future Proofer

Focused on financial security, both in terms of saving money for the future and ensuring it is always spent wisely through heavily researching purchases. Value ethical brands and companies.


Like to be the first to know about new things (TV programmes, technology, gadgets, etc.) and to be the one that people come to for updates and advice. Adverts and celebrity endorsements accepted, but only if relevant to them directly.

Content Addicts

Love all forms of TV/video content and being in front of a screen. Use content as a form of social currency with friendship groups.


In order to understand the behaviour and attitudes of teenagers, and to deliver insight and implications for marketers, WPP agencies Mindshare, MediaCom and Wavemaker have used LIVE Panel, a proprietary online consumer panel, to seek the opinions of 8,000 teenagers aged 13-17 (where younger audiences = 13-14  and older audiences = 15-17). All teenagers were recruited via their parents and interviewed under parental guidance using an online questionnaire. The sample was split equally between girls and boys and the research covered 18 markets globally: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Taiwan, UAE, UK and USA. All research was conducted online.

Mindshare Global
    Mindshare Global