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Google mine the dark, terrifying world of teenager’s search histories to scientifically determine what’s “cool”

Finally, an answer to the age-old question – what do teenagers think is cool?

The consumer trends and marketing insights team at Google has just released a (totally non-biased) report with insights into teen secrets.

And guess what? Google is like, totally cool! It’s lit! Am I right fellow young people?

The initial research was conducted in May last year via a web-based PollingPoint panel administered to a representative sample of 200 teens aged 13-17 and 800 millennials aged 18-25.

The same panel was then used in June and July of 2016 to provide more detailed information about teens’ attitudes towards specific brands.

The result is the cringeworthy report title ‘It’s Lit: A guide to what teens think is cool’ – as we all know, there is nothing cooler than having a giant corporation tell you what’s cool.

According to the report, if you were born between the mid-1990s and early 2000s, you are a member of Generation Z, which is the main focus of the study.

If you were born between the late 1980s to early 1990s, I have bad news for you. You’re officially past your youth use-by date. Marketers don’t want to know about you. Go tell some Gen Zers to get off your lawn.

OK, so let’s find out the answer to the question. What do 13-17 year olds think is cool?

Unsurprisingly, mobile phones are cool. In the world of social media, the report found that Snapchat and Instagram are the coolest platforms. Rather shamelessly, it also states “Facebook is still a daily habit for most teens for consumption and stalking, but they rarely post and it’s not seen as cool”. Glad we are getting this Facebook stalking out in the open.

The coolest celebs are ones that are “philanthropic” and “genuine”. The five most mentioned celebs were: Steph Curry, Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande, Chance the Rapper and Emma Watson. Sorry, Beibs. You might be on the millennial list.

Regarding their leisure time, Gen Z loves video games, streaming on YouTube and Netflix and team sports. It isn’t all fun and games though, the report also found that teens love reading and learning. Good for them.

Food and drink is dominated by junk food and pizza, Oreos, chips and ice cream. And once again, Coke beat Pepsi.

Looking at brands, the top ten for Gen Z are:

1. YouTube
2. Netflix
3. Google
4. Xbox
5. Oreo
6. Gopro
7. Playstation
8. Doritos
9. Nike
10. Google Chrome

Least cool with Gen Z’s aged 13-17 include Vice, The Wall Street Journal, What’s App, Quicksilver, TMZ, Yahoo and McDonald’s.

To Generation Z, Google means, “search” and that’s “part of what makes it cool”. Check out this totally real and authentic quote from a 17-year-old (not a 45-year-old marketing executive):

Google is really cool because it is an innovator. A trend setter. Google is not only a powerful search engine, but everything it does, from email to documents. Google products are easy to use and work well. As a company, Google also stands for education and creativity, shown by the science fairs and doodles contests they host.

The report wraps up by boldly stating that Gen Z is “the most informed, evolved and empathetic generation of its kind”.

While it is true that Gen Z has access to the most information, this is not the same thing as being informed. They also have to gain the critical tools necessary to evaluate said information. Most evolved? That title would go to babies born today. Gen Z sure are empathetic, though, we’ll give them that.

So what’s cool?

According to Google, teens value information (Google), stimulation (Netflix) and connection (YouTube) the most. What’s missing here is the word “immediacy”. All of these services are available anytime and all the time.

Waiting for things? That’s so last century.

About the author

Stefan is an Adelaide-based freelance writer. In his spare time, he plays tennis badly, collects vinyl and brushes up on his Mandarin. Follow Stefan on Twitter

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