Research released by Hong Kong-based international advertising agency, BBDO, found that brand marketers need to be aware of a new cohort in the Hong Kong population; the “Middlescents”.
Presenting the results of the research at an event to mark BBDO’s 40th anniversary in Hong Kong, Carol Potter, President and CEO of BBDO Greater China, said, “We set out to understand better the priorities of the young, local people of Hong Kong because priorities help define our values and how we live our lives – our choices, our actions, our hopes, and our fears. They help us examine the past and chart a course for the future.”
“What we found is a group of young Hong Kong people that is 25-35 years old and is facing some tough challenges.”
Tagged the “Middlescents,” they exhibit the lowest levels of life satisfaction, feelings of control, and connection to community of any group within the survey.
They are no longer adolescents but haven’t yet entered the family-building stage. They are single, mostly male and focused on managing their money. Middlescents are still trying to find their direction in life – often struggling between prioritising career and family.
The BBDO survey questioned a sample of over 500 young Hong Kong people, aged 18 to 35 and with a monthly household income of greater than HK $20,000. Expatriates were not included in the survey.
“The Middlescents are caught,” says Potter, “They can see the benefits of marriage and are striving to achieve them but can’t. This is, we believe, why managing their money has a higher priority in their lives than balancing work and family life.”
This phenomenon is particularly pronounced among men. The research found that men are very focused on their finances and career; their top priorities are:
1. Managing my money
2. Balancing work and personal time
3. Building my career
4. Doing a good job at work
5. Expanding my social circle
Starting a family is in sixth place for Middlescent men.
In contrast to Middlescents, married people under the age of 35 years are 58% more likely to report high levels of life satisfaction (very satisfied or satisfied) than their single counterparts.
Married people in this age group are also more likely to feel in control of their lives in general (76% more likely), their finances (30% more likely), their health (50% more likely), their careers (90% more likely) and their future (107% more likely).
The positive benefits aren’t restricted to just their home. They are also more likely to be proud of elements of Hong Kong than their single counterparts: Hong Kong’s history (37% more likely), Hong Kong’s resilience (60% more likely) and Hong Kong’s sophistication (72% more likely).
Furthermore, they have a greater appreciation and desire to contribute to the welfare of those around them. Of course, they have pressing responsibilities at home but they still make time for others as they are 32% more likely to cite giving back to their local community and 38% more likely to cite charity and philanthropic work as priorities in their life.
Opportunities for Brands
Juggling priorities is difficult for the Middlescents. From the survey, BBDO sees an opportunity for brands who position themselves in a supportive role.
Potter says, “Too often brands simply join the chorus; urging Middlescents to increase their wealth and advance their career. This isn’t helping. We think brands have the opportunity to capture the Middlescents’ market by taking the opposing perspective and helping ease the tension. These brands will differentiate themselves from those that maintain the status quo.”
Serge Dumont, Vice Chairman of Omnicom Group, BBDO’s parent company, said, “For 40 years, BBDO in Hong Kong has been devoted to understanding consumers as a necessary support of advertising. This has provided the deep insights shaping its campaigns for clients, a strategy that has led it to an unparalleled level of creativity and effectiveness. The bonus of identifying an entirely new market segment in the 'Middlescents' demonstrates, as nothing else could, the value of undertaking such surveys and the unexpected but interesting results that can arise."