It’s All in the Family: The Young Adult Market Balances Tradition and Tolerance

By: Mackenzie Altvater, Copywriter

Throughout history, there is one thing in life that is always on trend: love, or in some people’s eyes, the idea of love. The Youth and Young Adult  (YAYA™) market is no exception. At MOJO Ad, we study the 18- to 24-year-old market. This unique life stage – not generation – is currently caught between millennials and Generation Z. As a YAYA consumer myself, I know from experience that love is always on our minds.

When I was a kid, one of the popular schoolyard rhymes was: “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in a baby carriage.” But as the current YAYA market comes of age, we realize love and relationships aren’t always so simple.

Like millennials, the YAYA consumer grew up with the same Disney princess movies, pink Power Rangers and toy trucks. Traditional gender roles were omnipresent in the media we consumed. But we also grew up watching things like “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” where an openly lesbian comedian still entertains America in a family-friendly way to this day, and “Will & Grace,” a show with characters constantly challenging conventional gender roles. So despite the YAYA markets’ traditional upbringings, our idea of the nuclear family isn’t what it used to be.

It is not new for marketers to research how consumers internalize traditional values, but because of marketers’ heavy focus on generations, they often misread the YAYA consumer. Unlike Gen Z, the YAYA consumer isn’t in high school anymore, and although many millennials are in their 30s already, the YAYA consumer is just now entering the job market. The YAYA market represents a strange rift between the traditional values of Gen Z and millennial consumers’ progressive side.

Connecting with the sometimes contradictory YAYA consumer can be a challenge. It’s important marketers understand the different ways YAYA consumers interact with gender and relationships. Here is a peak into the YAYA consumer’s Life Between the Lines.

  1. Equality matters.

YAYA consumers believe in equal opportunity. In fact, 77 percent believe gender equality is important, and a majority say gender is irrelevant in the workplace. Whether you are a man or woman is unimportant. What matters to the YAYA market is if the job is done well. A YAYA worker wouldn’t think twice about a female boss or a male nurse.

  1. However, traditional roles are seen as helpful in certain circumstances.

Although the YAYA professional believes equality is a given in the office, some think assigned roles could be beneficial in private settings. We found 40 percent of YAYA consumers agree traditional gender roles are helpful in the home. Although this might seem like a step towards conventional thinking, it’s not that simple.  Additionally, 41 percent of the market agrees gendered products are old-fashioned. This is a perfect example of the complex consumer marketers are dealing with. Maybe mom might cook more than dad, but that doesn’t mean YAYA consumers want to see pink aprons in every appliance aisle.

  1. The kids are important.

Our survey found half of YAYA consumers agree it’s important to have a stay-at-home parent in a home with young children. This supports the latest trend that millennial men prefer stay-at-home wives over a working partner. But unlike millennials, the YAYA market is realistic when it comes to raising a family. No matter what they prefer, 63 percent of YAYA consumers agree both parents need to work to make ends meet.

  1. Marriage means adulthood.

To most YAYA consumers, marriage means taking the next step in life. Our survey found over half of this demographic agrees marriage is a representation of maturity. But, a majority of them like to test the waters before tying the knot. Before they marry, 62 percent of YAYA daters plan to live with a romantic partner. Over a quarter of female respondents strongly agreed with this sentiment. No matter how serious the relationship, YAYA couples take steps to avoid the risk of a bad marriage before jumping into a life-long partnership.

  1. Romance isn’t necessary.

Some of them just aren’t ready for long-term partnerships at all. That doesn’t stop them from feeling the love, though. An astounding 79 percent of YAYA consumers agree their friends are a part of their family, and 93 percent of them agree their pets are members of their family. This shows that regardless of where this population stands in their romantic relationships, friends are still an important part of their lives.

No matter their upbringing or gender, YAYA consumers are an up-and-coming demographic that values equality and the family but in nontraditional ways. Therefore, marketers must shed stereotypical portrayals of gender and family life. Since the YAYA demographic won’t accept mundane views of gender, it’s time for marketers to follow this unique and complex consumer into the new era.Learn more about YAYA consumers, MOJO Ad and the 2018 State of the YAYA webcast here.

Food for Thought: Snacking Trends Among Young Adult Consumers

By: Sophia Cygnarowicz, Digital Strategist

In today’s food culture, snacks are all the rage. Mintel found that 94 percent of Americans are snacking at least once a day, so it’s no wonder snacking is the greatest growth driver of today’s Consumer Packaged Goods industry. Just ask the girl in this viral video. Consumer’s food choices and mealtime habits are shifting across all age ranges. But what about the motivations behind snacking? Not so much.

Some marketers get caught with their hands in the cookie jar when assuming that consumers – especially the college-aged demographic – mainly snack for convenience and flexibility. As the three-meals-a-day mindset fades, is it truly because 18- to 24-year-olds don’t have the time to wine and dine? As a YAYA consumer myself, I know this isn’t always the case.

Growing up, I lived in the type of household that sat around the kitchen table for family dinners every night of the week. I followed the classic three meal structure and valued the fresh-from-the-oven dinners my parents prepared. Now, even as an overexerted college student, I continue to value a traditional sit-down meal. Don’t get me wrong – I’ll definitely indulge in two packs of fruit snacks to tide me over between meals. Despite this need to temporarily satisfy my hunger, I still favor following structured meal times. Is this true for all 18- to 24-year-old consumers? According to research conducted in the 2018 State of the YAYA report, this seems to be the case.

At MOJO Ad, we study the 18- to 24-year-old market, which we call the Youth and Young Adult (YAYA©) market. This unique life stage commands $82.4 billion in buying power. As the YAYA population is currently caught between millennials and Gen Z, it’s crucial for advertisers and marketers to understand us in order to target us.

Here are key takeaways that are sure to satisfy marketers’ hunger (How can you avoid food puns when writing a blog post about food?!):

  1. We aren’t on that #HealthKick as much as you think.

Particularly with millennials, food retailers have seen increasing popularity in snacks that are clean, organic and less processed, according to Forbes. These consumers like to buy foods that will enhance their quality of life. While some food trends focus on this responsibility of self, our research indicates the majority of YAYA snackers strongly disagreed when asked if they were currently on a diet or watching what they ate. In fact, only 14 to 19 percent definitely agree with avoiding cholesterol, salt, fat, carbs and sugar in the foods they eat. When it comes to food, we eat what we want.  

  1. We have different motivations for snacking.

According to our research, the YAYA market is snacking for emotional reasons. Sixty-seven percent of the YAYA market snacks when they are bored, and 59 percent eat more when stressed out. Mintel states that consumers 18- to 24-years old are most likely to agree the majority of snacks they consume are unplanned and that they snack more out of boredom than hunger. Compare this to millennials, who cite “to treat myself” as the top snacking motivation and “to relieve stress” as one of the lowest. So, when we’re pulling those all nighters, we make sure to stock up on our snacking essentials. Cue the Clif Bars and Goldfish!

  1. We prefer to eat structured meals and believe we have time to do so…

Despite their constant snacking, YAYA consumers would rather eat structured meals than snack throughout the day. In fact, 64 percent of the YAYA market believes they have enough time to have sit-down meals. Additionally, 61 percent of YAYA consumers would rather cook a meal for themselves than have more free time. Time to pull out those Betty Crocker recipe books.

  1. …but our intentions don’t match our actions.

Although we want to follow a three-meal-a-day mindset, we don’t always get what we want. Just because YAYA consumers prefer eating structured meals doesn’t mean they actually do it. Forty-two percent of YAYA consumers agree that snacking helps them get through the day, and 50 percent agree that they often snack instead of eat full meals. Let’s be honest, if we’re in a time crunch, we aren’t going to pass up an opportunity to snack.

At the end of the day, YAYA consumers are continuing to snack regardless of their more traditional meal values. What marketers need to realize is that YAYA consumers are snacking by default. They believe they have no other options. They feel bored and search for a way to cope. What does this mean for the future of snacking? I’ll guess we’ll just have to see how the cookie crumbles.

Learn more about YAYA consumers, MOJO Ad and the 2018 State of the YAYA webcast here.

Young Adults See Traveling as an Experience to Be Shared

By: Ric Dickens, Media Planner

Traveling has become a tremendous part of the lifestyle of 18- to 24-year-olds. As these consumers begin to earn salaries for the first time, many are looking to explore the globe as a way to spend it. This unique life stage is currently caught between millennials and Gen Z, so it’s become increasingly difficult for marketers to target them. At MOJO Ad, we call this group the Youth and Young Adult (YAYA™) market. The YAYA demographic currently commands $82.4 billion in spending power and it’s crucial for marketers to tap into that.

According to our research conducted for the 2018 State of the YAYA Report, 62 percent of YAYA travelers have taken at least one vacation within their state in the last year. Additionally, we found that 72 percent have taken at least one out-of-state vacation in the past 12 months. But in the eyes of YAYA consumers, travel is not just about the destination.

For the YAYA market one of the best parts of travelling is instantly sharing the special moments with the world. As a member of this market, I often think back to my childhood vacations. My mom would take picture after picture of my brothers and me. She’d take pictures of the hotel, the food we were eating and just about every action we took.

To my adolescent mind, it was annoying – but it was what my mom wanted so I went along with it. As soon as she got home, she would run over to Walgreens to get the pictures printed, put them into a scrapbook and keep them there to show off to guests. What took my mom several days back then is something I can do in seconds. My phone serves as my camera and scrapbook, allowing me to share them all with my social media “guests” in seconds.

Sharing is Part of the Experience

Like me, YAYA consumers have traded in old photo albums for a digital album.

If they can’t share their experiences, it’s a big problem. We found that nearly half (47 percent) of YAYA vacationers agree that a vacation isn’t worth taking if they can’t take photos. Similarly, 54 percent of YAYA vacationers wouldn’t want to take a vacation without technology. Technology gives them comfort and security when travelling, while also letting everyone checkout the latest sunrise over that hidden beach in Phuket.

We Do Our Research, But Don’t Mind Being Spontaneous

Additionally, YAYA travelers want to ensure they will have a worthwhile experience. According to Mintel, 77 percent of YAYA consumers conducted online research when planning a vacation in the past 12 months. On top of that, our research shows that a majority of the YAYA demographic agrees that they need at least one month to plan a vacation. This presents an opportunity for marketers to cash in on the YAYA demographic, who is seeking inspiration and is open to suggestion during this month-long planning window. If the YAYA demographic is marketed to effectively, you’ll be able to turn that openness into an act of impulsivity. According to our research, 54 percent of YAYA travelers like to take spur of the moment vacations, probably spurred on by the 25 percent that prefer to book those trips at the last minute to get the best deals. Given the YAYA traveler’s knack for research combined with a desire for a spur-of-the-moment trip, marketers may be able to drive purchases with limited offers and or deals.

Despite Expanding Budgets, YAYA Consumers Can Still be Cheap

Though they’re starting to see their wallet grow, this doesn’t stop YAYA travelers from being price conscious. We found that 54 percent of YAYA vacationers travel to locations where they can get the best deal. This indicates that even if your destination or resort is the nicest option, a value-oriented strategy may be necessary, such as bundling multiple destinations within a single trip. In fact, our research revealed that three out of four YAYAs prefer to visit to multiple cities or locations when traveling.

Another way to win the YAYA traveler over is to add value to the trip, with more destinations or sites for them to see. Almost three of four of our respondents preferred to travel to multiple cities or locations when traveling. If this is something you can’t offer, all hope isn’t lost. Marketers can entice YAYA consumers to bring someone with them to drive down the price. Our research indicates that 64 percent of this demographic will travel with others to offset the cost.

So what does all of this mean? YAYA consumers look for the next great thing to share, especially when it comes to a vacation destination. In doing so, they can generate earned media for you and your brand with every post and like on their social accounts. But to win them over and create a loyal YAYA customer, you’ll have to break through the clutter and entice them with a deal that makes sense for their wallet.

Learn more about YAYA consumers, MOJO Ad and the 2018 State of the YAYA webcast here.

The Reality of Marketing to Young Adults in Today’s Political Climate

Written by Emily Pagano
Public Relations Executive @ MOJO Ad

In today’s political climate, marketers must walk a fine line. This is particularly true when your target market is an elusive group: 18- to 24-year-olds. It may seem as though marketers are one poorly-placed Pepsi can away from a Twitter storm, unfriendly SNL skit and eternal shame. But are college-aged consumers really more likely to penalize brands for unintentionally offending someone?

As a college student, much of my development has occurred in a tense political climate inside and outside the classroom. I lived 20 minutes away from Ferguson, Missouri, the day protests broke out over the death of Michael Brown in 2014. Over Thanksgiving dinner in 2015, I was interrogated about the Concerned Student 1950 protests on my school’s campus at the University of Missouri. I’ve seen my peers live-tweet while getting pepper sprayed. Are all 18-to 24-year-olds destined to be a valiantly vocal, protesting bunch? According to our research, this isn’t the case.


At our agency, MOJO Ad, we call 18- to 24-year-olds the Youth and Young Adult (YAYA) market and see them as a life stage rather than a generation. As YAYA consumers are currently part Millennial, part Generation Z, there’s a lack of research for advertisers and marketers who want to target these college-aged consumers, which is why we conduct our yearly State of the YAYA national survey. Here’s what we believe marketers should know about us, and how they can avoid the mistakes that earn them a spot in the Twitter Hall of Shame:

  1. We think before we speak.

Just as brands worry about unintentionally offending someone, the YAYA consumer does as well. This year, we found that roughly half (53 percent) of YAYA consumers are concerned about inadvertently offending somebody. This sentiment reaches across political divides, as 37 percent of us identify our political affiliation as neutral, 43 percent to some extent Democrat, and 20 percent to some extent Republican.

  1. We’re divided on attending Politically Correct University.

This leads to an interesting tension, as our research indicates that half of YAYA consumers agree that there’s too much political correctness on college campuses. However, our tolerance lessens for certain microaggressions, as 69 percent of students believe campuses should have the ability to restrict slurs and 63 percent believe ethnically stereotypical costumes should be restricted, according to Gallup.

  1. We’re likely to boycott brands that don’t share our beliefs.

According to our research, 54 percent of YAYA consumers agree they would not purchase products or services from companies whose social and/or political views don’t align with their own. However, this number is lower than that of millennials, of which Edelman found 66 percent make purchasing decisions based on brand beliefs.

  1. We’re skeptical of your stance on social issues…

A majority (60 percent) of YAYA consumers agree with the statement: “Brands pretend to care about social issues so that I will buy from them.” This is particularly true when a brand’s social stance doesn’t ring true for their product and mission. If your senior leadership team consists of 12 men and 2 women, perhaps gender equality isn’t your niche.

  1. but we still want you to take one.

Nevertheless, a majority (60 percent) of YAYA consumers claim they like when brands take a stand on social issues. If your cause is authentic, reflects your brand’s internal values, and fits seamlessly with your product or service, prepare to be rewarded.

Regardless of your target demographic, marketers should carefully evaluate whether social issues present an opportunity to demonstrate their company’s values. But if your consumers are college students, make sure you’re basing your decisions off holistic research that encapsulates this entire life stage. We’ll thank you for it.

Learn more about YAYA consumers, MOJO Ad and the 2018 State of the YAYA webcast here.