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Fun, Joy and Festivals: Youth Culture Uncovered Event Download

Advertising Agency
Dublin, Ireland
The Youth Lab is sharing key takeaways from the launch of its sixth edition of Youth Culture Uncovered

The Youth Lab at THINKHOUSE, one of the world’s leading independent agencies, works to demystify youth culture and future-proof some of the world's largest organisations through insights, strategy and innovation consultancy. This week, The Youth Lab is sharing key takeaways from the launch of its sixth edition of Youth Culture Uncovered. 

This week, The Youth Lab shared to a packed audience at THINKHOUSE HQ its sixth edition of Youth Culture Uncovered; an annual insights’ programme exploring the hypothesis, “what’s it like to be young today”, asking “if, and how, 16-35 year olds are finding joy and purpose in an era of permacrisis, (a period of extended instability and insecurity, often following a series of catastrophic events)?”.

This week’s 52INSIGHTS recaps the event, packed with hot-off-the-press quantitative data representative of Irish youth, (500 16-35 years surveyed), culturally relevant insights from experts across Europe, and plenty of inspirational thought-leadership from its youth and festival panellists. Read on for the big learnings brands and businesses can take to bring more joy and purpose to the lives of young people. 


Our investigation highlighted the contradictory behaviours at play in a world of unpredictability, summed up by the idea of either checking in or checking out - checking into life, or checking into an issue, or interest, a passion, a hobby, work, relationships etc, or doing the polar opposite, either in conventional or more radical ways. Such contradictory behaviours reflect both young people’s ability and their intention (or lack of) to control their lives, or the moment they find themselves in.  

Key contradictory behaviours identified include:

  1. Channelling Energy - I’m channelling my energy on what I can control. 
  2. Calling Out For Community - I’m creating the spaces that facilitate the change I want in the world.
  3. Creating Alternatives - I’m done with the status quo and am open to creating the new and different. 
  4. Ctrl + Alt + Delete = I’m stuck 

Despite the contradictions, however, The Youth Lab identified a hopeful narrative of humanity, one rooted in our collective inter-dependencies. Together, we have the best chance of joy and purpose. Key insights include:

Joy and purpose in life isn’t something simply stumbled upon by young people, it is increasingly intentional. Manifestation is big for 2023. 

Friendship is a facilitator of both fun and purpose - it doesn’t always matter where you are or what you’re doing, it’s who you are with - 56% agree “My friends & I have the most fun when we’re just hanging out doing nothing.”

1 in 2 say they are “engaged with & feel part of a community”. For young people, community is about a sense of belonging, and collectively how you achieve more. It is about  creating space for everyone.

Breaking out of your ‘comfort zone’ is a positive thing - leaning into change and challenging yourself is empowering for young people and normalised. In the past six months, 59% have done something completely new or different.

The impact of economics could be seen with young people cutting back. The top 5 things young people are cutting back on are as follows - Takeaways, Eating & Drinking Out , Fashions & Beauty Buys, Grocery Shopping (Branded Goods) and Entertainment. 

Sometimes you just need to go wild - 27% of respondents claimed they had done something totally wild & hedonistic without thinking about the consequences, in the pursuit of joy and fun over the last 6 months. 

Festivals came out as a big source of joy for many young people. The people you’re with and meet came out as the number 1 thing that makes for a great festival experience, followed by the line and a chance to go off-grid. 

TikTok is changing how young people have fun - A whooping 82% of 16-24 year olds say they are on Tik Tok and using it not just as an entertainment channel, but as a discovery channel, a place to learn, a research tool and a tool for unlocking personal recommendations. 


Claire Hyland, The Youth Lab, welcomed a host of young people who shared their own lived experiences. Claire was joined by Niamh Bakker - Breakthrough scholarship recipient, Ciaran Gaffney - founder of SEANCHOICHE, Sarah Hanrahan - digital content creator specialising in Dublin culture and Irish travel and Adam Mohamed - spoken word artist & musician. The panel discussion gave insight into the significance of TikTok, creativity, reality check of life right now and the importance of creativity, amongst many other things. 

“One thing that came across the board, was that there’s a hybrid way now to not only work but have fun too. There’s the element of finance, and saving money to do something big, but there’s also the security and longing for home. There’s a new way of finding fun, mixing travel and nights out, with themed at-home parties - PowerPoint Parties are a thing!" said Niamh Bakker on the alternative ways that gen z are having fun.

"People want to get more value for their money, they don’t want to feel like they’re overpaying. There's money to be spent, people are just looking for more bang for their buck." said Sarah Hanrahan on the cost of living crisis in relation to experiences. 

“Young people are craving that sense of connection, honesty, reality, and none of the bullshit. Seanchoíche is about creating a community, and that’s the beauty of the event.” said Ciaran Gaffney on SEANCHOÍCHE and why people are hungry to share their truths.

"People are craving the moment to express themselves and to connect, but what I see is a lot of insecurity to get to that place. I see my job as helping people get there." said Adam Mohammed on the role of creativity and curiosity in creating awareness and connecting with a youth audience.


Dave Byrne, head of creative, THINKHOUSE, discussed with our panel of festival aficionados, what lies ahead for the festival scene this year. On the panel was Sian Redmond - head of marketing partnerships at Live Nation, Dave McCabe - production manager at THINKHOUSE, and Eoin Cregan - promoter, DJ, manager, event organiser, No Sleep Club. The panellists shared their insight on what role brands play, the importance of sustainability and how to really connect with a young audience.

“If you’re a brand whose audience is at a festival, they’re expecting you to be there, they think you should be where they are.” said Sian Redmond on the importance of brand presence at festivals to connect with young audiences. 

“People’s range of taste has grown, it’s huge now. Streaming platforms have shifted the dynamic in what we listen to. People want to listen to all types of music and this is something the big, less genre-specific festivals will need to reflect.” said Eoin Cregan on evolving music trends and expectations of young people attending bigger/more general festivals. 

“Innovation is the next stage of festivals, and bringing in more infrastructure to enable more sustainable activations." said Dave McCabe on the future of festivals.


Take any opportunity to listen and learn from young people. We have been asking ‘what is it like to be young today?’ for years because it helps us to understand how to respond to the needs of the next generation, and to better connect with them — it allows us to see around corners; to get a sense of what the future holds; to respond to their challenges and to ensure continued relevance for brands and organisations in the short and long term.

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