This is probably the most insightful interview I’ve been able to get from an absolute influencer in youth culture in Australia. Dion Appel lives and breathes youth culture. He has to. He’s the CEO, Co-founder of Lifelounge Group
, Australia’s leading digital resource on youth culture – fashion, music, sports..you name it, they cover it. He also runs Lifelounge Urban Market Research (UMR), Australia’s biggest youth market research panel. I was lucky enough to get some perspective on what brands need to do to get ‘cultural infusion’ ( new buzz word 🙂
Tells us a little about why you set up Lifelounge Group and its role for Aussie youth?
It seemed like a good idea at the time. Having said that James Diver and I were playing poker at a casino in Las Vegas.
The idea was to combine our passions and expertise to create a unique business proposition for brands: offer an understanding of and access to the youth market in a credible and relevant way. My background was in business; managing and marketing action sports athletes. James and his business partner Luke Lucas were professional athletes and magazine publishers. Together we identified a market opportunity to apply our creative and commercial expertise and contacts to position brands relevantly amongst the youth, young adult and lifestyle markets.
What are the 3 biggest trends that you think are influencing Aussie youth at the moment?‘Boycotting the bogan’ – events once only popular amongst those in the know have now reached the mainstream. This may be lining the back pockets of event producers but we have reached saturation point. The mainstream doesn’t hold the same core values to those who made events important destinations in the first instance.
There is a move towards going underground, creating unique party experiences that leverage the values festivals were once built on.
‘Flesh messaging’ – all forms of digital communications are no longer new, they are mass. There is a lack of control over how and who we communicate with. Technology should be treated as an enabler, it shouldn’t dictate how communication is conducted.
There is a growing preference for face-to-face communications i.e. meaningful contact and conversation.
‘Extreme transport’ – Cycling is now a massive trend in urban cities within Australia. It has already splintered into sub-cultures with the ‘discovery’ of fixies for the road, not the track. This trend is expected to continue with the introduction of government funding for new bike tracks and communal bike sharing initiatives. Not to forget it’s good for the image, cheap to do and good for the environment win-win-win.
In a world where labels offer little exclusivity, bikes are the new form of branding.
How would you describe Australian youth culture in a word? Explain?CONSIDERED – Australian youth are deliberate and calculated. Don’t underestimate them.
They’re very careful about how they perceive themselves and how they want others to perceive them. It’s all part of a need and desire to express themselves and ultimately define their identity. During the defining years (18-24) they are more open for trial and new experiences and tend to be less loyal. Once they have defined their identity (25-29) they are more likely to become loyal and flaunt independence.
Is there such a thing as ‘global youth’?Absolutely, we don’t log onto the Australia Wide Web we log onto the World Wide Web. Access to technology and travel have made borders disappear, seas seem like puddles and the ability to learn new languages a worthy inclusion on the CV.
Are there any youth subcultures which are really popular or emerging in 09?For some time we have been tracking subcultures that emerge from core lifestyle interests I.e. Music, fashion, entertainment and sport however, more recently we’re tracking subcultures that relate to emerging trends such as fixies within cycling within sport.
What do brands need to know about young Aussies?Brands spend considerable resources defining themselves, their essence, personality and image in order to connect more relevantly with desired audiences. We can draw a number of similarities in the way young adults seek to establish and define themselves.
Brands need to be real, honest and brave enough to share experiences through conversations with young adults. With a solid foundation and relationship based on shared values the sky’s the limit. Challenge the status quo and use the power media channels to connect relevantly.
Alot of brands these days do ‘co-creation’ – getting young people to co-create their ads/events/products? What’s your POV on this?
Young adults are dubbed the creative class because they are digital natives however, in reality they like to have everything done for them. Having said that if brands provide the tools for creativity then young adults are more likely to respond. There are a number of case studies that support co-creation from government agencies like the Transport Accident Commission’ Make a Film Make A Difference initiative to Red Bull’s Art of the Can competition.
Which brands do you think ‘get’ youth marketing and why? Explain
Virgin – Has a strong reputation for trading on a unique attitude with personality. Congratulations Richard Branson on finding a way to commercialise your lifestyle and make your mark on everything the brand does. Virgin’s entrepreneurial approach to business has enabled the brand to cross into varying industries and maintain a consistent tone.
American Apparel – Because they keep their message clear and simple. They don’t broadcast but are smart about the way they advertise enabling the market to discover and make their own minds up about the brand. My first encounter was in New York when the shop assistant told me how good my family jewels would look in a particular style of underwear; I looked up and her necklace spelt the word ‘SLUT’
Lucas Paw Paw Lip Balm – This product oozes quality and makes no mistake about it. The product has effectively achieved cultural infusion particularly with females through word of mouth and very little traditional advertising.