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Expert: Cultural changes in the behaviour of adolescents affect their style of consumption

04.08.2017 Society

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Young people focus more on entertainment and socializing, which affects their consumption patterns; for example, they do not meet with friends at home anymore, but rather in cafes and clubs, they spend more money on eating out - said Dr. Izabela Sowa.

Dr Izabela Sowa from the Department of Consumption Research at the University of Economics in Katowice has been investigating the behaviour of young consumers, aged 13-19, who are still dependent on their parents and who spend money on their own needs.


"The biggest change I've seen over the years is that today's youth are increasingly focused on entertainment and socializing. Ten years ago, the youngsters first and foremost helped at home, and contacts with their friends (directly and online) were in the second place" - she told PAP.


She added that this phenomenon exists in parallel with the process of virtualisation of life. "Young people use computer even more. Internet usage (both in computers and smartphones) to communicate with other people is growing very rapidly. While in 2004as many as 21.3 percent of respondents had never used this functionality, in 2014 a similar declaration was made by only 2.6 percent of respondents" - she said.


In addition, more and more young people meet with friends in cafes and pubs, and less in homes, in the yard, in their neighbourhood, in the park, etc. "Young people less often help the at home, do work for the family and volunteering work. They are more likely to undertake paid work outside their homes" - said Dr. Sowa.


These changes in the behaviour of young people affect their consumption style, but at the same time they coincide with modern trends.


An example is virtualisation of consumption. "More and more needs are satisfied by using the Internet, young people use it in daily activities faster and more intensively than adults: they use it to learn, seek information about purchased products but also exchange information and experiences related to the use of products. We observe prosumer attitudes that involve sharing knowledge, information and resources. Virtualisation also includes social relations - nowadays young people are more likely to communicate with their friends online than in person" - she said.


She added that some young people contact manufacturers or sellers online, suggesting their own ideas for product improvements. "With this information exchange, the products they buy gain a new value. Young people look for personalized products, and the opportunity to shop online supports this trend" - she noted.


There is also the process of consumption becoming more service-oriented. "More and more needs are met by services, for example meetings with friends now more often occur in cafes and clubs than in homes and in the yard, so more and more money is spent on eating out" - said Dr. Sowa.


At the same time, the researcher pointed out that although the majority of young people are socialites who actively seek information online, they are not eager to share their skills, experience or resources. "Only about 13 percent of young consumers are creative people who contact manufacturers, write posts on Internet forums, create their own products. Among 30-40 year olds there are almost twice as many such active people who share their resources and contacting manufacturers" - she noted.


She also added that youth are not homogeneous, because "about every fourth young man remains passive". "His social life is limited, he is not very eager to use the Internet to interact with other people, he rarely goes to the cinema, theatre or cafes. The barrier is not lack of access to the right equipment or the internet, but rather the lack of interest in this way of spending time" - emphasised Dr. Sowa.


A characteristic change over the last few years is also the increasing interest in sport and health, especially among girls and young women. This translates, for example, into the growing offer of sportswear or sports clubs.


Asked about the future direction of these changes, the researcher emphasised that the virtualisation of life, including consumption, will deepen over time. "This is indicated by the fact that junior high school students are now more involved in the use of IT technology in the buying process and downloading information from the Internet than the current high school students" - said Dr. Sowa.


At the same time, in her opinion, the difference between the behaviour of active and passive youth will become more apparent.


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