The Pandemic Changed Youth Culture in the Asia Pacific – What Does that Mean for Brands?

Image: Henri Pham
A study by Vice Media finds 68 percent say the pandemic has changed their perspective on what’s important in life, with 93 percent making lifestyle changes they plan on maintaining.

As they reemerge back into the world following the pandemic, young people across the Asia Pacific are rewriting the next chapter of youth culture, says new research from Vice Media, which advises brands to use the opportunity to reconnect with the youth in new ways.

These cultural shifts include re-evaluating their relationships, careers, media and mental health, with generation Z and millennials “proactively making fundamental life changes to shape a new future in a post-pandemic world which will never be the same again,” says Vice Media.

‘The Next Chapter – Re-Emergence’ is the latest from VICE Media Group’s ongoing series of youth culture tracking studies which monitors behavioural change to forecast the future of culture. The online quantitative study of 1,740 Gen Z and Millenials was conducted via VICE, Refinery29, i-D websites and social channels in Australia, India, China, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

 
 

According to the research, 68 percent say the pandemic has changed their perspective on what’s important in life, with more than nine in ten (93%) making lifestyle changes they plan on maintaining. Almost six in ten (59%) young people say the way they work will be the most lasting societal change, followed by how they socialise (51%), with half saying looking after their health has transformed forever.

“Young people across Asia continue to see their futures as uncertain, but what is clear is they are not planning on going back to life as it was before the pandemic,” said Lesley John, Managing Director of Virtue APAC, the creative agency powered by VICE.

“Lockdowns and restrictions have driven marked changes in attitudes and they are reassessing what’s most important and valued in their lives which in turn will drive significant, sustained cultural changes.”

 
 

Highlights

Mental Health: From Idle to Active

Across Asia, mental health is more important than ever for today’s youth and will underscore every decision they make. Almost two-thirds (63%) of respondents said they valued their mental and emotional health today more than before the pandemic, with just under half (43%) making changes that they plan to continue post pandemic. One in four have taken steps to actively manage their mental health with increased use of mental health apps almost doubling since the pademic’s start, meditation increasing by 50 percent and coaching and therapy rising by four times.

Relationships: From Casual to Critical

COVID-19 has also made young people both nervous and excited about returning to social experiences. They are also curating their relationships wisely, with six in ten (66%) planning to spend more quality time with people than they did before, and 40 percent making lifestyle changes around friendships they will continue moving forward. Over half (57%) value family more than before the pandemic, demonstrating a new found appreciation of the family unit. The metaverse is strongly favoured as a means to connect with family and friends with social media use, online gaming and attending a virtual concert or event recording significant increases from before the pandemic.

“When it comes to relationships, COVID 19 has given them a newfound appreciation for connection and brands can play an important role in creating safe spaces and experiences for young people to connect with others in a meaningful way and feel a sense of belonging.”

Work: From Path to Purpose

The past two years have provided new perspectives on their careers, with new ways of working front of mind for this cohort. Half of young people in the region said they lacked purpose but want to seek more meaning in their careers. Almost three-quarters (74%) of Asia’s youth want to do something that really matters to them, with one in two saying work will no longer be a central tenet in their lives. Entrepreneurialism has also flourished over the pandemic with 46 percent motivated to start their own business and have greater control over their working lives.

Media: From Consumption to Contribution

In addition to the pandemic, news and information around issues of social justice, climate change and misinformation have overwhelmed young people, making them aware of overconsumption of online content. This is driving a prioritization of content that brings truth, resilience, and respite in their lives. Moving forward, 68 percent say they are looking for content based on facts and science, with the same number seeking entertainment to help them laugh and escape. Almost two-thirds (65%) want media that inspires, gives them hope and helps contribute to the world.

Huiwen Tow, Virtue’s Head Of Strategy, APAC said behavioural changes driven by the pandemic present marketers with opportunities to align brands as a new chapter in youth culture is written.

“This a unique opportunity to reconnect with the next generation of culture shapers as they re-emerge from two years where they have questioned all aspects of their lives and made significant lifestyle and health changes that are here to stay.

“When it comes to relationships, COVID 19 has given them a newfound appreciation for connection and brands can play an important role in creating safe spaces and experiences for young people to connect with others in a meaningful way and feel a sense of belonging.


Featured image: Henri Pham

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