Bangalore Youth: More in Common with NYC than Rural India?

“My fundamental belief is that people across the globe are more alike than dis-similar. My belief is there’s a global youth culture, where a youth in India has more in common with youth in NY than with people from rural India.”

Joseph Tripodi, Chief Marketing & Commercial Officer, The Coca-Cola Company.

[Economic Times]

I also recently read a list of “10 Things To Do Before I Die”, written by a young blogger in Bangalore, India. Comparing this post to other posts on the same subject, by teens in major cities around the world, there are a lot of similarities. For what this quick bit of very superficial, dirty, shotgun research is worth, here are the 10 most common things ‘global youth’ want to do before they die.

1. Meet a companion
2. Pro-create
3. Do something risky
4. Achieve material wealth
5. Travel to a far-away place
6. Create some sort of legacy
7. Witness something unique
8. Make their parents proud
9. Live in New York
10. [something personally or culturally relevant]

Tripodi’s is an interesting theory, but personally I’m much more interested in #10 on the list above –the wild card. There is little dispute that differences across the globe are narrowing, commonalities broadening and that metro-consumer desires are a growing global culture. But even if we assume that Tripodi’s theory is 100% accurate, doesn’t it make more sense, from a marketing stance, to identify the cultural differences?

Maybe this way brands will actually spawn some greater crossover between, for example, youth in rural India and a major metropolitan centre like Bangalore. That is, rather than perpetuating the divide between regional and metropolitan youth consumers, speak to them on the [personal/cultural] terms that make them unique from other young people. Needless to say, cultures aren’t entirely contained by geographical borders, so these more tailored messages could also be distributed digitally by identifying the different tastes of a brand’s online audiences.

NB: I believe the same global forces causing the growth of a global [youth] culture will also affect a change in the traits that make us different.

I’ve learned a lot about China’s youth culture since relocating to Shanghai. And I’m currently working with a couple of international sporting/fashion brands to help them adjust their China product and marketing strategy accordingly –more on that in the next couple of weeks.

While China is the focus right now, my research is part of a longer-term goal to identify and specialise in emerging youth entertainment markets. Also on the radar at the moment is India, Vietnam and Thailand.