For Youth Today, Exclusive Experiences Are a Status Symbol

An always-on generation is drawn to being #first – and to being more mindful

Teens and young adults around the world strive to be “here before the hype.” They are constantly connected – and because they are hyperaware of all that is going on in any given moment, discovering something new before anyone else is a big deal. Being able to say you were #first is the ultimate status symbol.

Demi Lovato must have had this trend in mind before the launch of her most recent album. She sent her fans on a real-world scavenger hunt looking for secret boxes hidden throughout several cities. The lucky Lovatics who found the boxes could unlock a sneak peek of a new song ahead of its release date. This generated excitement by giving some dedicated fans an experience that almost no one else could make a claim to.

Alongside this pull toward unique experiences, teens and young adults also want to slow down and live in the moment. It’s stressful to keep up with everything. They want to be more mindful.

Adidas reacted to this trend in two ways. First, they organized a celebration of holistic living, bringing together yoga and meditation instructors, musical performers, speakers, artists and chefs for a transformational retreat in Aspen, Colorado. The goal was to help people release themselves from the anxieties of being “always on.”

Later in the year, they played the other side of the trend with their premiere of Awaydays, a feature-length movie that followed skateboarders in 22 cities across the globe for three years. For a limited time, Adidas gave away a live stream of Awaydays for free. The catch? It was only available for a 24 hour period.

With these campaigns, Adidas played with teens and young adults’ need to disconnect and live in the present moment, as well as their desire to experience something online right now.

So, why are exclusive experiences so popular among youth?

As Izzy from the UK told us, “It feels more rewarding to find and visit secret locations. I feel like I earned it more — and I like having that feeling.“

In other words, in a world where anything is available with a click or a swipe, teens and young adults love the sensation of having earned something.