Over 88% of the girls aged 15 to 25 in our country would change something to their body if that was easily feasible. The share amongst boys is slightly lower, but still strikingly high (73%). The body parts girls are least happy with are their belly (46%), thighs (29%), bottom (19%) and breasts (18%). Boys would love to improve their belly and muscles (18%), chest, mouth and cheeks (14%). But not all of them would consider plastic surgery. An InSites Consulting survey revealed about 15% of the US youth consider doing so.
Girls in the US get the most pride out of their eyes (48%), hair (36%) and breasts (18%). Only 7% are proud of their entire body. Three times as many boys (21%) are proud of it all, but most of them are mainly proud of their eyes (34%), hair (22%) and skin (14%).
The 16 countries international results show that the US scores slightly below average. About 23% of the girls and 16% of the boys in the 16 countries across the world consider plastic surgery. In almost all areas the same body parts are a problem to the youth. In China and India young women attach less importance to their belly and breasts. The skin, the eyes and the hair are the main points of attention. In Brazil girls focus less on the thighs and pay more attention to belly and breasts. Another level where Brazil is different internationally is that about half the young women (47%) and 34% of the young men would consider an aesthetic operation.
“The current generation of youth is often referred to by scientists as the most narcissistic group ever”, says Joeri Van den Bergh, Gen Y expert at InSites Consulting and author of the book ‘How cool brands stay hot’. “Therefore it is not surprising that looking good is so important. But this definitely is not only valid for youngsters and is a broader scientific fact. Just think of the increased importance of product and packaging design, or of the increased care given to interior design”, states Van den Bergh.
Seven out of ten youngsters think they are unique
Clothing, profession, hobbies and music are part of the uniqueness
About 69% of the US youth think to be unique or even very unique. This US youth score puts them in the less modest group in the word. In countries such as Brazil, Romania, Russia, India and Italy no less than 7 to 8 youngsters out of 10 considered themselves to be unique.
US youngsters mainly want to be different for what they tell others (53%), for their clothing (51%), their hobbies (51%), their professional activity (50%) and the music they listen to (50%). The cities and countries they visit also represent important differentiating ways to youngsters (46%). The majority of youngsters does not want to differentiate by where or what they eat nor by their political ideals. The latter is deducted from the InSites Consulting survey as being important only in Italy and the BRIC countries. Body and looks are used relatively more frequently in Brazil, India and Eastern Europe as means to be unique compared with other youngsters.
“The most striking thing to me in these results is that the company you work for and the job on your business card contribute a lot to the extent to which youngsters consider themselves to be ‘unique’. So it’s not just the tailor who makes the man. I think many employers - who are wondering today how to engage and motivate these Millennials or Generation Y – do not think enough about this. ‘Why would working for that company and having that function be a unique experience differentiating me from other youth’, that’s the bottom line”, so concludes Joeri Van den Bergh.
More than 1 out of every 3 youngsters uses brands to be unique
About a third of the US youngsters (36%) try to buy unique brands in order to be different. Apart from brands such as iPhone and Apple, other so-called ‘badge items’ (i.e. products which give you a certain identity towards others, such as mobile phone, shoes, clothing, drinks away from home) are also in the top 10 of most unique brands. But how can today’s brands be unique in a world where the competition copies innovations within a few months, or where they imitate campaigns?
“The bottom-line is often that they build their brand around a unique value or a view of the world, rather than around the product itself“, says Joeri Van den Bergh from InSites Consulting. “We should be able to summarize a brand’s uniqueness in 1 or 2 words. For Apple those would be ‘design’ and ‘user-friendliness’. Both Diesel and Levi’s are quoted as unique by about 1 out of every 3 US youngsters, whilst both being jeans brands. But for Levi’s this uniqueness equals affordable quality with a tradition, whereas Diesel stands for character, personality and style”, concludes youth expert Van den Bergh.
Youngsters want to be remembered as a good friend
Three out of ten youngsters in the US want to be remembered as a ‘good friend’. Other characteristics such as friendly, honest, warm and smart (quoted by 1 on 5) are also considered to be very important. About a fifth of the 15-to-25-year olds also want to be remembered as a ‘zealous worker’. The US youth clearly score higher on work ethics than the other 15 countries included in the survey. They think it less important on the other hand to be remembered as cosmopolitan (1%), famous (2%) or popular (3%).About the survey