With the release of Foresight Factory’s report on the tribes of 2019, we have two new groups to examine. Tribe One, ‘The Hyper Quantifiers’, are commonly addressed by brands across sectors from tech to entertainment and indeed by any product that can help measure aspects of life. In an age of optimisation, they are the perfect subject for companies to cheer and engage as they strive to go better, faster, and more efficiently. They have become the go-to group for youth marketing. In the UK, however, the 16-34 market has a similar sized tribe (about 1 in 5); the self-described Ambitionless Youth.
This tribe consists of the 20% of under 35s who admit to lacking ambition. They might sound disengaged, negative or even nihilistic but this group is not lazy. The percentage desiring a shorter working week, and more leisure time is within 1% of with their more ambitious peers. In truth, they aren’t closed off to new experiences; with 84% feeling the need to learn more – just like their ambitious peers. Instead the phenomenon is, perhaps, a result of lesser faith in the link between work, satisfaction, and professional achievement. Ambitionless Youth are more prevalent in slowing or contracting economies, notably Japan and Brazil, with 47% and 35% of their youth ‘ambitionless’ respectively. In these states of macro-economic decline, the perceived link between unbridled hard work and professional achievement is further eroded.
To talk to this engaged but unambitious audience, brands need to understand the differentiation between ambition and passion. While the ambitious, as Deloitte’s John Hagel has observed, typically follow linear goals, with extrinsic motivations (money, status etc); the passionate will follow more diffuse goals, often at the expense of linear professional progression. While Hagel sees the passionate as useful for an organisation for the innovative thinking of which they are capable; for brands they represent an audience who are willing to invest time and emotional energy in products without needing to justify this with extrinsic reward. While Ambitionless Youth remain the minority, this 20% will find goal orientation alienating. This offers an open space for brands discussing a more immediate value exchange, or indeed more intrinsic and lateral goals.