Growing Up In A Fast Food Nation

mcpretendingIn the latest Ypulse Monitor and Ypulse Report (see full summaries in our Research Roundup) we saw the enduring pull of young, hungry students to fast food joints, specifically those of the burger variety. Cheap, reliable and probably just off campus,  our research found nearly all (nine-out-of-10) college students and teens had gone to restaurants like McDonald’s, Burger King, or Wendy’s in the past month, at a frequency of about four times a month/once a week. McDonald’s also came up as the #1 option for lunch, dinner, snacking (and increasingly even coffee!) spot for both demos. For all of the reasons stated above (price, reliability location), this trend isn’t a surprising one, but with rates of childhood and teen obesity staying at epidemic levels especially among low-income youth, it does raise some health concerns.

While “Happy Meals” and the like have undergone a healthful makeover as of late (apple “fries” instead of fries, milk instead of soda, etc.) for tweens/concerned parents, and older consumers are targeted with the contradiction in terms that is the “fast food diet,” teens and young adults get lost somewhere in between, lured instead by what’s tasty and cheap, i.e. the dollar menu-type items. While two out of three teens and college students reported going to the potentially healthier, sandwich shop chains like Subway or Quizno’s over the same period of time, the wide range of choices available still include poor picks like Quizno’s Tuna Melt, rated the number one unhealthiest sandwich of 2009. I also recalled a negative responses to the price difference of sandwich shops at the youth-hosted forum on childhood obesity I attended back in September and the “no duh” look students gave when considering the choice between a “$5 Footlong” and the wide variety of cheaper…

 
 

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The Newsfeed

“I move around every few years so it would be a huge hassle to have to buy and sell property so frequently.”—Female, 28, IN

Gen Z will spend the most on rent of any generation, but Millennials aren’t far behind. HotPads estimates that 2-20-year-olds will spend $226,000 on rent before they buy a home and 24-38-year-olds will ring in at $202,000. Despite the difference, Gen Z will own their first home one year earlier than Millennials because they’ll have “a stronger job market than [M]illennials”—but, despite the myths, they are buying homes in greater numbers. PS: Los Angeles tops the list of where young demos will spend the most on rent. (Business Insider)

What’s behind board games' popularity today? The NPD Group found that board games grew 8% compared to the toy industry’s overall growth of 8% in the past year and has “no signs of slowing down.” Digital detoxing plays a part, as more Millennial parents worry about their kids’ screen time and seek toys that foster face-to-face relationships. But despite the analog appeal, games are also getting high-tech and the word-of-mouth media they receive propels social media-friendly games like Pie Face to the top of toy charts. (Kidscreen)

Parents still have the most influence over kids today, but online celebrities are also top role models. Mintel research found that 86% of 6-17-year-olds say their parents are among their top role models, 62% say teachers, and 41% say siblings. But the top kind of celebrity that gets added to the category are social media celebrities at 35%, followed closely by musicians and athletes. Only 22% said actors were among their top role models and just 16% said the President. (MediaPost)

Disney has a new beverage to fill your Instagram feed: The Purple Wall Slushie. The Millennial & Gen Z-loved company has had no problem coming up with social media-friendly items, from Baby Groot bread to a viral Beauty and the Beast-inspired tumbler, and now they’ve rolled out a boba and taro beverage at Disney World. The Purple Wall is a famous destination to snap a pic for social media in the Magic Kingdom, and this slushy is made specifically to match up with the wall (and monetize on it). (POPSUGARInsider)

Speaking of Instagrammability, the Space Needle’s new, clear benches are sure to make for a thrilling photo op. The iconic viewing deck for the Seattle skyline has been in the midst of a makeover to create a better (and decidedly more social media-worthy) viewing experience. A metal base and caging has been replaced with a high glass wall from floor to sky, and so-called “skyrisers” will let visitors sit right on the edge of it all—and snap a selfie. (Curbed)

“People have been planning outfits since the start of the year [for prom].”—Male, 15, NC

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