In annual report, student ad agency decodes marketing to young adults

Consumers between the ages of 18 and 24 are more likely to disconnect from social media in favor of physical and social activities in the real world, according to a new report by strategic communication students at the University of Missouri.

On Tuesday, students from MOJO Ad, a student-staffed advertising agency at MU, presented their findings on the youth and young adult demographic. The “YAYA” demographic represents 10 percent of the U.S. population and $82.4 billion in buying power, according to the report.

The annual State of the YAYA report, which is aimed at helping marketers, was presented by students Megan Bartolac, Tiffany Nguyen, Connor Hills and Ben Kochuyt.

The report was broken down into six categories: technology, health and wellness, safety, rent versus buy, cause marketing and careers. Results were derived from a national survey with over 700 responses, according to the group.

Surveys showed only 32 percent of respondents would rather spend free time on social media instead of reading. Another 40 percent said they prefer print books over e-books.

Though YAYA consumers are often associated with increased technology use, they actually have a desire to disconnect, the report showed. Bartolac cited AT&T’s recent holiday campaign that encouraged consumers to unplug as an example of effectively marketing to the YAYA consumer.

“Deeply embedded in the YAYA code is a craving for community and a desire to belong,” she said. “Their collective intelligence supports them in this pursuit of wellness.”

Youth and young adult consumers are the most likely demographic to attend boutique fitness classes such as SoulCycle or Pure Barre. According to the study, 44 percent of YAYA consumers like to combine socialization and physical activity.

The study found that many YAYA consumers are conscious of where they spend their money. About 45 percent of respondents said they like brands that take a stand on social issues, and 41 percent said they remain skeptical when brands claim to support a cause.

After the presentation, the team answered audience questions about influencer marketing, investment advising and other related topics.

MOJO Ad students have also delivered the report to several ad agencies, including Jack Morton Worldwide, FleishmanHillard, and Weber Shandwick. On Thursday, the team traveled to Dallas to present at a Southwest Airlines event.

“We like to try our best to add a little personal touch,” Bartolac said. “For Southwest, we added data on where YAYAs might like to travel in the future.”

Bartolac said the team received valuable feedback from Southwest.

“We’re really proud to be able to talk to these companies and build those relationships for the future,” she said.

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