The New Digital Morality: Consumers, Brands and Social Networks

Here's the theme for our presentation at the NBC event in September 2009... please feel free to offer up some thoughts "With the ever increasing presence of technologies (increasingly mobile) and the popularity of web2.0 app’s & social networks (Facebook / Twitter / Youtube, Orkut etc), individuals are increasingly able and willing to observe and expose elements of their ‘private’ lives to those around them. This creates a range of practical and ethical issues about our identities and behaviours with implications to our virtual and real-world experiences. As they mature as digital citizens and with the migration between social networks, consumers are beginning to question and change their behaviours along with what they are willing to show, share and consume in the digital world. These processes have important implications for employers, brands and organizations that are increasingly seeking seek to understand and enter into a digital dialogue with consumers, of all ages and social classes. Drawing on rich qualitative research with different consumer groups in both Brazil and the UK, TWRAmericas seek to open a debate drawn from a variety of insights into the emerging landscape of a ‘New Digital Morality’. As social networks continue to evolve within their own competitive marketplace we also seek to explore the differences in experience between the use of different web2.0 tools in different countries (primarily Facebook – UK & Orkut – Brazil)"

Beware the Brazilian Teenager!

This weeks Veja magazine has devoted a large segment to a report on today’s Brazilian youth. Whilst the report contains some interesting background and insight on young people – much of which relates to trends observable in young middle class people (not just limited to teenagers) across the globe the general tone of the piece is in some ways as confusing as the young people it identifies. Confusing in that whilst the net is seen as creating a generation more informed than their parents, less tribal and less prejudiced, it is simultaneously seen as central to a number of ‘problems’ affecting young Brazilians.

The report is somewhat akin to a soft ‘moral panic’ stating that young people who are kings of the digital age are costly to keep, pragmatic, lacking idealism and generally lost or confused in a world of endless choice, much of which is bought on by their being endlessly online. The internet and social media is in part blamed for young people’s lack of reflexivity and a ‘look at me’ culture, meanwhile the growth of social contacts via Orkut has fuelled increased party attendance and this is blmed for increased drinking and drug taking amongst Brazilians.The article however also seeks to criticise teens for having lost the sense of revolution that their parents exhibited, worrying only about getting into stable employment and receiving a good salary. The shift in power relations due to adoption of technologies is also seen as a factor behind how young people now increasingly control household spending behaviour and the fact that young people are now 5 times more expensive than 30 years ago. The article which starts by drawing comparison to Holden Caulfield’s crisis of 2 generations ago ends with a list of recommendations to parents on how to raise their children with reference to such issues as – how to get them to answer the phone, or stop exposing too much of their lives online!

If you would like to know more about our own extensive and less sensationalist research report into Young Lives across South America - please click here

Young Lives : Vidas Jovens

TWRAmericas have recently completed a major study of Trends among young consumers (ages 15-19) in Brasil across various cities and with youth of a variety of ages.

The study looked at a range of issues inclusing young peoples values and influences, the role that media and new technologies play in their lives, as well as the role of brands and advertising within their own youth cultures.

The research involved a wide range of qualitative methodologies - from focus groups to online interviews and digital ethnography

If you would like to know more about the project or to see some of the findings please get in touch and we'll send  a copy of the Vidas Jovens DVD Report to you.

Grace and Clare...connected

  Whilst in London Ive been able to meet up with two (young) old friends. Always a pleasure and enlightening to spend time with them. I wanted just to post a few quick clips from an interesting discussion about their media usage and online lives. Here they discuss some of the pros and cons of being constantly connected and its implications on their social relations. The girls have both recently moved into the world of Blackberry, as have a number of their peer group.    

Flexible Education

The need to attain educational and professional qualifications, and to combine such studies with the economic necessity of working to support families are amongst the principal concerns of young people across South America.

Research identified the need to encourage forms and systems of education that do not force young people to quit work and encourage more flexible hours of courses. One niche area of work for young people in Brazil is telemarketing and for this reason research focused on this sector. Findings of the report identified that a majority of young Brazilians employed in this sector do so to fund continuing higher education. Other findings back up the results of recent research which highlighted fears of security and sustainable development as being most pressing amongst young people on the continent.

Research was conducted with 960 interviewees, principally with young people in social movements in six countries and managed by 2 Brazilian Institutes: Ibase and Polis (Instituto Brasileiro de Análises Sociais e Econômicas e Instituto de Estudos Formação e Assessoria em Políticas Sociais.



Understanding Brazilian Youth 2

As would probably be expected the headlines that grabbed the news media’s attention from the recent UNICEF report on “Brazilian Adolescents and Youth” were largely those that reflected those of a nation of young people worried about crime and corruption. Apologies if we too reflected some of this sentiment in our original post. Having had time to download and digest some of this impressive and wide ranging piece of quantitative research conducted with over 3,000 Brazilian teenagers (15-19 years), we felt it important to highlight some of the findings that failed to grab the news media’s attention.To begin with, whilst most coverage focused on the factors that shamed Brazilian youth about their nation, the research also asked them what made them proud to be Brazilian. Sadly the most dominant response was don’t know (29%). Of those that did respond the natural beauty, forests and beaches (17%) beat football (14%) education and the Brazilian people (10%). As previously reported, young peoples attitudes to education and social problems figure heavily in the report. However, amongst the other themes covered in the study the biggest health fears of young Brazilians include drugs (28%), Aids (26%), STD’s (9%) and alcoholism (7%). 40% of those questioned were in work and a further 25% seeking work. Of those working 62% had jobs in the informal economy and a majority of work is still largely dependent on personal contacts via the family (39%) or a known contact (32%). The importance of teen labour is obvious when once considers that more than half of all respondents give all or part of their earnings to their family. There are whole sections of the report dedicated to media and leisure activities amongst Brazilian youth which we will be posting on shortly…

Understanding Brazilian Youth


Understanding young people in Brazil, their attitudes and behaviours seems to make great sense to us. Not least because the Brazilian child and youth population amounts to 34.1 million, almost the same as the entire population of Argentina. At the macro level, half of the world population is under 25 and 85% of them live in developing countries.

The results of a couple of unrelated pieces of research focusing on Brasilian youth have both highlighted a tendency towards conservativism and a focus on the importance of education and the family. The first, "Adolescentes e Jovens do Brasil: Participação Social e Política" a wide-ranging quantitative study conducted by the UNICEF in conjunction with the Ayrton Senna Institute and Fundação Itaú Social, questioned more than 3,000 teenagers across the country. Key findings included the following:

- Education was seen as the most significant factor in allowing for a successful life. A majority were happy with the quality of education received but the most commonly cited problems were the lack of classes, places and structure to courses.

- As well as their personal futures Brazilian youth demonstrate concern for the everyday social and political problems facing the country. Political corruption (27%), racial discrimination (17%) and lack of public safety (15%) being the top concerns.

- The principal leisure activities amongst adolescents are visiting the homes of friends (52%), watching TV (52%). On average young people spend nearly 4 hours per day watching TV



Elsewhere, the relatively new and interesting Brasileiros magazine reports on the findings of some qualitative research groups and interviews with young Brazilians from across the social spectrum. The key findings according to the report, not untypical of trends elsewhere are those of a generation no longer in conflict with its parents, increasingly living within the family home and whilst waiting for employment opportunities living out an extended youth. Dubbed the 'Family Generation', the piece argues that the key differences lie between youth in lower social classes who are primarily seeking stability and a better life than their parents and the middle class youth who are more able and inclined to seek a good time. Interestingly the writers argue that the family occupy a space more important than school, the church or the peer group in most young peoples lives with middle class youth tending to be excessively pampered and lower middle class youth having more freedom and mobility.

World Aids Day...100,000 Condoms...'experimento elástico'


What better excuse than today being World Aids Day, to put up a clip of our very own Lara Vainer discussing her recent involvement researching on the project 'experimento elastico' with artist Adriana Bertini. The innovative project is part of the “Muro Graphia” programme funded by SESC in Sao Paulo. The project which has just come to a finish has seen Lara and Adriana working with up to 300 teens from some of the cities poorest neighbourhoods to create artistic designs solely from condoms. Along side the art work was a programme of evealuation and health awareness. More postings with clips of Lara discussing the research findings and implications of such programmes by going here… but there’s a taster below…

Young Internauts

Research from Nickelodeon, the childrens TV channel has shown that almost 90% of children in Brazil’s urban centres access the internet 3 or more times per week. These young internauts have on average 12 virtual friends. The global project named Playground Digital, (not to be confused with the Porn Company Digital Playground) suffers somewhat from being conducted only with young people who have access to two pieces of digital technology, clearly influencing the sample in a country such as Brazil. That said, Brazilian young people appear to claim to have the highest number of online contacts and spend the most time online. Freindship seems to be the prime motivator of time online with Brazil second only to China in the usage of social networking sites. More details of the survey and its results can be found at: PRNewswire and

Sao Paulo Punk Scene

The commercialization of retro teen styles has been increasingly evident in the Brazilian music and fashion scenes much as in most global capitals in the past 5 years. However in the recent weeks this trend for reappropriation seems to have taken on a new form. Stories of fights and beatings by groups of punks have become standard in Monday’s newspapers. This week’s Sao Paulo Folha reports that at least 5 deaths in 2007 have been put down to fights between rival youth groups in the downtown area. Police stated that there racial crime and intolerance unit have a collection of over 3000 photos of gang members from the State capital, of which a majority are punks. Elsewhere it appears that punks have been arrested with eggs in their pockets and fighting over a R$1 discount on a mini pizza. The city has had a rich punk and post punk history. We certainely recommend the SoulJazz compilation 'The Sexual Life of Savages' as a good starting point. Whether this is a classic moral panic in the making or not time will tell, if you want to see some of the bands in action try below:

Embark on Reading

Brazilians, much less than their Argentinian neighbours appear to have a limited interest in literature. Its rare to catch a Brazilian reading a book on the metro, bus or heaven forbid on the beach. Statistics appear to back this up. A 2006 report in the Economist states that “a quarter of those aged 15 and older were functionally illiterate…only one literate adult in three reads books. The average Brazilian reads 1.8 non-academic books a year—less than half the figure in Europe and the United States.and in a recent survey of reading habits, Brazilians came 27th out of 30 countries, spending 5.2 hours a week with a book.” A number of factors would appear to influence such a sweeping generalization. Not least the cost of purchasing books and traditionally poor standards of education. Despite more attention in recent months to address this problem from national and state politicians along with NGO’s, one of the key issues that is rarely addressed in that of limited accessibility. Used book stores (sebo) tend to exist on the periphery of most urban shopping zones and tend not to appeal to the mainstream market. Where the middle classes do tend to congregate in Brazilian cities and shopping malls there is a small selection of book stores often with a limited choice. However, one initiative worthy of note which exists in Sao Paulo, Rio and Recife (Mexico and Chile also have similar shcemes) has been the siting of micro-libraries at subway stations.‘Embark on Reading’ which began in 2004 has been expanded recently due to its success in attracting readers, to the extent that scuffles have reportedly brken out in the queue to swap books. Latest stas show that 21,000 have signed up for the 11,000 books on offer. Despite being less likely to use the Metro womern make up 67.5% of the schemes sign-ups. A majority are also between 20 and 30 years of age having completed a high school level of education. Of the books most read are the following: Dan Brown’s DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons, Gabriel Garica Marques’ Memories of My Melancholy Whores and The House by Danielle Steel.

Os Urbanoides – The Urbanites

An article that caught our attention last month was this piece in the Teen section of the Folha de Sao Paulo. Entitled ‘Os Urbanoides’, it appears that somebody has unearthed a tribe of young Paolistas who belive it or not prefer the pleasures of the cosmopolitan lifestyle: cars, shopping malls, pollution and the cold to the stereotypical Brazil of the beach, the countryside and walking barefooted in the sand. Indeed much of the report seemed to focus on this highly contentious debate about the politics of sandal wearing amongst a few upper middle class teens. Important as it is there are some bigger issues that spring to mind: those of urban regeneration, the cultural importance of shopping malls and belated commercial and state attempts to re-appropriate ‘downtown’ in the wake of rising urban violence. That said we’re always happy to encounter the young tribes of Brasil and will keep you posted when we find some more…