My main goal in life is to grow my hair down past my bum
UK Tribes in a Nutshell
They’re everywhere.Young Alts down one end of the high street Skaters pulling moves in front of the town hall. Trendies ignoring everyone else as they march towards a Saturday shopping spree. This project – commissioned by Channel 4, created by Crowd DNA – takes you to the heart of young Britain.
Tribal alliances are less hard and fast than they once were. The exchange of ideas is more fluid; the social glues that unite people more varied – you might disagree on which band is best, but you could still share a loyalty for Topshop, Sony PlayStation or Channel 4. Thus, understanding the dynamics of tribal UK is essential for brands who wish to engage and, vitally, become part of the conversation.
Mixing research talent with a roll-call of journalists, artists, hot-off-the-streets scribes and snappers, we quiz young people about their lives, their media, their aspirations and their brand preferences. The results are illuminating in the extreme; a look at UK youth culture from the street up. So if they’re saying nasty things, don’t blame us! We just wanted to create an honest, uncensored expression of young people’s attitudes and affiliations.
How UK Tribes Started
UK Tribes was born in 2005, when Channel 4 commissioned Crowd DNA (then called Ramp Industry) to run a project called TV Glue, which looked to measure how TV could remain a unifying force in the midst of media fragmentation.
One small aspect of this project looked at youth culture and offered a tribal breakdown based on the social glues (music, sport, fashion, technology etc) around which young people gather. Whenever presented to media and marketing people, this section proved a big hit; a real conversation starter.
Thus UK Tribes was born, with a brief to extend this research; to explore youth in honest terms and as described to us by young people themselves; to acknowledge that whereas once it was about monolithic youth tribes that stomped on all before them (punk, rock ‘n’ roll, acid house etc) now it’s more about fluidity, a menu of options.
We wanted to make sure our research felt real, genuine, close-up; to avoid the generalisations and glossing over which often informs such studies. There are times, perhaps, when findings may seem derogatory or negative, but this is all about youth culture as described to us by young people themselves.
How We Did It
Tribes Live community:
A dynamic online community of 400+ young people representing the various tribes and planning segments, which make up the UK Tribes project.
A high level of activity each week, ranging from testing TV pilots to exploring cultural attitudes to brand allegiances
Scope for in the moment contributions via mobile
Social media data from participants Facebook and Twitter activity synched into community
Expert interviews with marketers, media, event promoters, DJs, fanzine editors etc
Video and picture diaries
An online survey called Find Your Tribe that was disseminated through relevant blogs and online media. The pay off for young people was in the fun and talk value of having your tribal identity defined; the benefit for Channel 4 was in gathering data on youth preferences across over 250 brands and media, plus on lifestyle attitudes and habits.
Find Your Tribe version one ran in 2006, gathering data from over 50,000 respondents. Version two ran in August 2008, with the response count at 38,000 and rising. Version three goes live later in 2013.
As important as the research techniques have been, producing rich, powerful, colourful content as output has also been paramount; be that wonderfully interactive graphs and charts to bring the quantitative data to life, or the wealth of essays, think-pieces, interviews, voxpops, video diaries and so on produced by an informed and passionate team of industry experts, journalists, and ‘proper’ kids who’re living through all of this dizzyingly diverse stuff right now, in real-time.
The current count stands at 25 tribes and five planning segment, but that’s sure to change. Key to the UK Tribes project are the constant updates, both identifying new tribes and noting new trends and changing behaviour among existing tribes. In doing so, we’re building up a fascinating archive of the ever-developing landscape of young Britain.
UK Tribes’ primary aim is to promote Channel 4 as the key place to come if you want to communicate with young people. Such has been its influence, it’s also impacted on programme commissioning and marketing. A multitude of brands and agencies have made good use of the findings. We’ve had awards nominations and recommendations aplenty. Media coverage has extended from The Guardian and Metro to trend blogs and style mags. Just as importantly, young people themselves have given the UK Tribes work the thumbs up, recognising its validity and accuracy.
We hope you find this work both useful and enjoyable. Any advice, insights, feedback etc, please email here.