The youth in Asia are breaking free from conventional norms and embracing a new era of expression. New APAC-wide research from Vice Media offers insight into their cultural zeitgeist uncovering the codes that are shifting and shaping the youth’s approach to life.
Titled ‘Guide to Culture’, the report draws insights from a sample size of 40,000 diverse people between the ages of 15 to 41 years of age comprising Vice’s network of journalists, content creators and tastemakers from markets such as Indonesia, Singapore, Korea, India and Japan. From mental and emotional health to questioning traditional power structures and embracing the notion of conscious hedonism, the report’s findings are important for brands looking to understand the unique expressions of this cohort and tailor their messaging and products in line with their values.
Seeking alternative mechanisms to emote feelings
Pushing the boundaries of emotional expression, exploring new and unorthodox ways to share their innermost feelings—six in 10 of Asia’s youth value mental and emotional health more than ever. They have progressed the cultural narrative around wellbeing to give space to those wanting to express their emotions.
Three in four people surveyed say they need more self-expression to live a happy and healthy life. Cathartic and alternative pursuits have arisen to find a release for this expression—rage rooms, scream therapy, to the resurgence of personal diaries on Telegram where Gen Z are sharing censor-less feeling dumps with a small number of subscribers,—are seen as gateways to purge a collective fury or sadness.
More deviant, less angel
Seven in 10 of those surveyed believe that society will change for the better from its own citizens rather than traditional mechanisms of power. Continued failings of political institutions means they are challenging traditional power structures, questioning social scripts, moral codes, and breaking down barriers.
80% respect their personal needs and are not afraid to enter the “villain era” to protect their boundaries. So, whether it's Chinese and Korean women challenging the traditional conventions of being likable “good girls” by embracing the “bitch girl” attitude, or the popularity of boy love dramas taking the region by storm, the report says, Gen Z is breaking age-old tropes and social scripts.
Pleasure isn’t a flex, but a foundation of lifelong wellbeing
Expanding the definition and palette of occasions for indulgence, finding everyday pleasures that are guilt-free, and seeking new experiences, the cohort is rejecting the “work hard, play hard” mindset to recognise pleasure as a natural human need that is key to flourishing.
More than six in ten are constantly seeking out new experiences, leading them to expand the definition of and occasions for indulgence, and find ways to elevate their days or nights out by bringing multi-sensory hedonism into nearly every social or dining occasion.
One in two is looking for travel that takes them out of their comfort zones. Nine in 10 also say drinking and partying are not about getting wasted. This might just be their generation’s YOLO, but with a twist.
Speaking about the implications for brands, Huiwen Tow, head of strategy, APAC at Virtue, comments: “In this era where young people are unapologetically asserting their identity, beliefs and feelings, there is an opportunity for brands to facilitate shared rituals of release to forge a sense of belonging and community, and embrace the spectrum of emotion, including sadness and rage, to heighten engagement with an audience seeking raw and real connections.
“Today's young Asian consumers are also drawn to brands with unconventional heroic qualities and flaws that make them relatable. To stand out in a crowded marketplace, brands need to embrace a bit of the good, bad, beautiful, and ugly. By being multi-dimensional they can appeal to Gen Z who define themselves by their authenticity, humanity and uniqueness.”