Youth 100 List – What makes brands attractive?

This year’s Youth 100 list unveils what attributes make brands attractive to 18- to-24 year-olds and uncovers some surprises in which companies top the group’s ‘most desired’.

Brands that make life easier, more fun or help to save money are highly rated by young people according to a new report by youth researchers Voxburner. YouTube tops this year’s Youth 100 list, followed by Amazon, Google, BBC and Ben & Jerry’s.

Many brands in the top 100 follow these three fundamental requirements and those that achieve one or more are higher up in the list, according to Luke Mitchell, head of insight at Voxburner. (see Methodology, below.)

Google is useful to young people almost every day, says Mitchell, while fashion and price-focused brand H&M (at 28) does well in terms of saving people money. Urban Outfitters, which is considered a ‘cool’ brand, does not offer the same value so appears outside of the top 100 at number 143.

“Brands with those two functions [being useful and saving people money] are fundamentally important to young people’s lives every day so they develop strong relationships with them,” says Mitchell.

The third characteristic that stands out is fun. Brands such as Ben & Jerry’s (ranking fifth), YouTube (number 1), BBC (ranking 4) and Channel 4 (number 10) all use a combination of entertainment and function to appeal to 18- to 24-year-olds.

Skype, Wikipedia and PayPal also appear in the top 20, highlighting the ‘utility’ aspect in the choice of brands that young people love.

PayPal director of UK marketing Alison Sagar explains that this age group is a core audience for it. “With young adults leading the charge for mobile adoption, they are a critical audience for us. The PayPal brand is about being an easier, faster and smarter way to pay any time, any place and on any device. We have been established online for a long time, and with our recent app update, customers can now use their mobile phone to pay on the high street, at places like PizzaExpress, Warehouse and Oasis.”

Having good content and ‘shareability’ can also make a brand desirable, contributing to why YouTube comes top, Mitchell says. “Every time you go to YouTube it’s for something brilliant, something funny, inspiring or creative, unlike Facebook where you might log in, scroll about and find nothing of interest.”

However, pre-roll advertising and nasty comments posted by internet ‘trolls’ on YouTube are disliked very much, according to the qualitative element of the research, which had a focus group of 30 people. YouTube announced in September that it will moderate these comments more closely.

Having great content has helped the BBC take fourth place. Despite the Savile scandal, it remains a trusted brand overall. Providing on-demand services as well as being a brand that people have grown up with also contribute.

Meanwhile, Starbucks has fallen nearly 40 places from 31 in 2012 to number 70. The coffee chain’s issues around tax avoidance means that young people judge the brand according to their own morals, says Mitchell. Costa Coffee, by contrast, ranks at number 35, [down from its ranking at number 14 last year], helped by the fact that it has more shops so it is easy to access.

However, respondents are not prepared to discount Amazon, despite it also being caught up in tax avoidance, as it climbs from being 9th in 2012 to number two in 2013.

This year, the research also includes the top brands that young people would like to work for and highlights the disparity between brands they love in the top 100 and those they would be happy to be employed by.

Apple tops the list of companies young people would most like to work for but in terms of its overall popularity as a brand, it is at number 18. Google is the second most favoured employer, followed by Topshop, the NHS and the BBC. However, Topshop comes at 82 in the list of the most popular brands, compared with the BBC in fourth place. The NHS is not on the list.

This section of the research is where social and digital factors become important, with media brands such as the BBC and Samsung (at 13 in the list of employers) creating exciting products which helps them to be seen as cutting edge.

Emily Cramp, managing director at Thinkhouse, which carried out the employer brand part of the research, says: “Apple has been voted the most admired brand in the world by Fortune magazine consecutively from 2008 to 2012 so it’s no surprise that it has landed the top spot as the brand this audience would most like to work for. It is seen as a market leader and risk taker, which makes it hugely exciting to this age group.

“The age group feels passionately about brands that, after playing a functional role, strive to be socially and digitally connected in day-to-day life. Media brands like Google and the BBC, tech brands like Samsung and lifestyle brands like Coca-Cola have evolved and are creating exciting products and entertaining content that this age group can relate to.”

Trends website BuzzFeed does not feature in either of the lists, in spite of it being content and social-media focused.

[The exclusion of] “BuzzFeed is the biggest shock, considering the high internet usage of young people as well as its content agenda.” says Mitchell. “The focus group had heard about the site so maybe its digestible content is also disposable; a quick laugh but leaves little long-term impact.”

Some industries, however, fail to either be popular with 18- to-24-year olds or be part of their employer consideration set. The travel industry does not feature, for example, although leisure brands such as Odeon, Ticketmaster and Alton Towers do.

Brands that receive a high ’no feeling’ score are also in danger of losing relevance or dropping out of the list next year suggests Mitchell. Andrex, Vue cinemas, Uncle Ben’s and the Post Office all have high no feeling scores, although they do feature in the top 100. Of those surveyed, 39 per cent say they have ‘no feeling’ about Durex and the figure is the same for Thorpe Park but they rank at 74 and 90, respectively.

Mitchell believes that impact and relevancy are both important aspects of the brands in the top 100 and suggests that those that do not appear or are low down in the list look at those coming out on top and how relevant they are to young people every day.

Focusing on being relevant, good value and fun is what successful brands in this list do well, and others may benefit from applying these qualities to reach the elusive youth.

The Youth 100 report, conducted by Voxburner in collaboration with partners Thinkhouse and The Student Room, asked more than 2,500 18- to-24-year olds to rate 250 brands according to whether they love, like, dislike, hate or have no feelings towards them.

The ‘like’ and ‘love’ scores are added together to create the top 100. This year’s report has a thousand more respondents than last year’s, including young people who are not in education, to ensure a broader mix of people.

The second part of the research looks at which companies young people would like to work for. More than 1,200 university students were surveyed by Thinkhouse and their answers are unprompted.


Ane Brentford – World Record Holder!

The Skydive Empuriabrava Challenge is a unique event, running World Record events in two orientations on the one drop zone. The famous French load organiser Patrick Passe assembled a group of 106 belly-flying skydivers, with 20 on the ‘bench’, aiming to break the FAI large sequential world record. Babylon and friends drew a veritable crowd of 104, with 50 on the bench, aiming to build a European record.

Now, I will never claim to know ANYTHING about sky diving but what I do know is that one of our very own Valley Project Managers- Ane, was one of these “belly flying skydivers” and aided the success of the group to ensure they achieved not just one, but four World Record Jumps- back to back!

Participant Lesley Gale describes the story below:

In the relatively new category of World Record, Sequential Large Formation, to qualify as a ‘large’ formation for these rules means you must have a group of at least one quarter the current World Record. Then 35% of the group must move to a new formation in order to be officially recognised as a second point.

Skydive Empuriabrava
The new management of Skydive Empuriabrava was in evidence, with a drop zone transformed like a film set, with plants, walkways, giant photos, lights, balloons, and Regan Tetlow commenting to a rapt crowd of spectators. Large formations are one of the best crowd-pleasers in skydiving as they present a great visual spectacle. A film crew was making beautifully edited day videos, shown on a giant TV screen. Kicking music energised the drop zone and there was a stylish festival atmosphere.

Largest Formation
Patrick’s group met on Wednesday 18 September at Skydive Empuriabrava, and made 2 and 3 jumps respectively, from 19,000 feet (with oxygen). The first jump for both loads was a bit zoo-stylee, but the second in both cases was mega. Patrick’s group made a complete 104-way and held it for 10 seconds.. wishing perhaps that they had planned the second point!

The notorious tramontana winds kept us on the ground the next day but Friday dawned with clear blue skies and not a breath of wind. The first jump the formation did not complete due to a collision and some lost people – but half of the group got some sequential practice by making their second point. The formation flying by the pilots of two Twin Otters, two Beeches, a Caravan, a Dornier and a Porter was so close the organising team actually asked them to open up slightly and be farther away!

106-way – 2 points
On the second jump, which was only the second attempt, the first formation built cleanly and beautifully and was complete by 9,000 feet. the key was given to make the sequential move, and by 7,500 feet the group were flying in their second formation. A wonderful feeling as everyone on the jump had time to ‘feel’ that it was completed. Often on big-ways you track off not knowing the outcome but this time the general feeling was one of elation, with whooping under canopy and high-fives on landing.

The judges are still counting as I write this so the record is yet to be official. But it seems guaranteed. In fact, it was almost too easy, it was a doddle! It was my second jump here and certainly was the easiest World Record I have made. But this quick success is a testament to the strength of the group Patrick had put together, from the top to the bottom. His laid-back style of organising is the opposite of the American ‘boot camp’ style. It seemed fitting for the relaxed atmosphere of Empuria.

45 minutes later
We are dirt diving the next 106-way jump when the news comes in from the judges… it’s official! A new World Record 2-point Sequential! The group goes wild – hugging, embracing, cheering, congratulating each other, all with our record-breaking dive playing on a giant TV in the background. It was like a mosh party but without the alcohol, just everyone high on their achievement. In true Skydive Dubai style fireworks and smoke were going off on all sides, to add to the party atmosphere.

Two hours later
We had planned a 3-point 106-way. The first two points the same as we’d just achieved, and adding a third point, keyed by a streamer. We climbed back up to 19,000 feet, with a long curving ten-minute run-in to allow the different planes to jockey into position. The jump was beautiful – building even quicker and smoother than before. The first point was built, the second was keyed from the centre. I was on tenterhooks for the streamer as I had the move in the third point… we went into cloud, it didn’t bother me, I just kept my eyes on Patrick for the streamer – yes! There it was – I made my move and there was that visual silence that told me we must be complete. I sneaked a glance at my alti … 7,500 feet, so we still had 5 seconds to savour the world record feeling in the formation before tracking.

2 Consecutive World Records
Once again I’m reporting before the judges have made the record official – but I feel so sure it’s a given. Way to go! Two World Records in 2 jumps! A World Record in itself! Congratulations to Patrick Passe, his team of Captains (Milko, Martial Ferré, Stephane Mattoni, Alia Veselova, Victor Kravtsov, Pal Bergan, Tom Claeys and me) and each and every participant. To Patrick Passe, Chapeau! A seemingly effortless record, thanks to his excellent preparation, selection, slotting, and sublime leadership.

The judges had declared yesterday’s 3-point jump a World Record, so we dirt dived a fourth point of 106-way. We were now to go 1,000 feet higher and break off 500 feet lower. I wasn’t convinced we needed any extra time but it was good to feel we had it in abundance. The climb to altitude took forever and my legs started to cramp. When we ran in the set-up of the planes looked slightly different, I struggled to see the lead plane from the door of the Caravan (right right right trail). When we left the picture was different; previously the base had been straight across but now it was above us, turning everyone into floaters. I saw a few near-collisions because of this unexpected picture, and figured on my way to the formation, that this was likely going to be a hypoxic mess.

I just focussed on doing my job and was pleasantly surprised to see the formation built smoothly and quietly. I found my belief again and started willing the jump to succeed. There was the nod for the second point – yes! Streamer from Patrick for the third point, that’s my cue, and I moved forward to my new place. Another streamer from Herman, the signal for the fourth point. The formation was flying beautifully and once again I had that incredible feeling of savouring the moment. I could sense Roy Jean-Jacques in my line geeking at me, so I returned the favour.

We landed in extreme elation. Three World Records on back-to-back jumps. Incroyable! High-fives, hand slapping, and more kisses than a New Year party! Someone commented, ‘This is almost getting boring’ – but it so wasn’t. The camera team – Bruno Brokken, Henny Wiggers, Gustavo Cabana, Andrey Veselov and Alexander Khabibulin – were complaining their fingers ached, they had to press the button too many times. No-one was used to this level of repeated success.

What Next?
Could we make five points of 106-way? We had time. Watching the video then we held the fourth point for 15 sec The plan, says Patrick, is to try one time for five points. Then, whatever the outcome, we will change the plan and make some fun skydives with no record in mind, just enjoying the great group of skydiving talent assembled here in the sunshine of Empuria. We dirt dived the fifth point of 106-way, saying “Is this for real?” It felt quite bizarre to be calmly planning five points of 100+ way, as though we do this all the time, every weekend. The fifth point of the sequence was a bold move, building 24 cats on the outside of the 106.

We boarded for our last World Record attempt (but still 3 jumps of the event to go). The jump was sweet, not flying quite so perfectly as before, but for sure we made 5 points, with time to spare. We’re waiting for the judges’ decision as to whether the record is official. On the previous jump, the timing between the last grip on one point and the move to the next is split-second.

I believe it’s the first time a group has ever made 5 points of 100+ way. A decade ago Roger Ponce de Leon organised a beautiful 4-point 104-way, and to my knowledge this is the most number of points ever made in a 100+ formation. Look out in the photos for Brit Pauli who is wearing a pair of union jack boxer shorts over his red jumpsuit. They are surely his ‘lucky shorts’ as he only wore them on the record dives.

The crowd and jumpers again went wild when the judges declared our FOURTH World Record, and on back-to-back jumps!

To sum up, we made the most amazing four World Record jumps back-to-back, building 2, 3, 4 and 5 points of 106-way. Remarkably we did not change a single person into a different slot, nor did we use anyone on the bench. Outstanding. I’ve run out of superlatives so I’ll sign off. Job done and 3 fun jumps to go!

Why Facebook will Fail

Most of us believe that a company like Facebook will never fail its primary aim and will never die like many others did. This strong belief has been increased after the company filled for a 5 billion IPO. However, on further inspection it is clear that Facebook, like most other organisations- has a series of faults which could just be its’ undoing…

Facebook was founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg who decided to see further standing on the shoulders of friendster and other networks that didn’t have success due to the way they behaved. Nowadays Facebook is a power, it is not just a company, but it is something that goes forward.

At the end of December 2011 Facebook had 845 million active users. The site had 483 million daily active users in December 2011. More than 425 million people were active on mobile devices. Facebook is available in 70 languages.

That is Facebook. Unbelievable? No, it is not unbelievable. This is just the result of years and years of work and passion. Facebook gave to the users for the first time the possibility to interact with the others, to find friends, girlfriends/boyfriends and relatives. It probably anticipated things that we didn’t think existed.

In a few words it is the most interesting tool I have ever seen, but now the question is will it fail ? Will Facebook lose its users? Is this possible? Are we going to face the decay of one of the great tools of the 21st century?

I believe that the answer could be yes. Maybe it will happen in a decade, or maybe in three decades, but one day we will see Facebook going down. It will go down for several reasons and I would like to share with you what I a see inside Facebook’s patterns.

Lack of Privacy They are seriously working on this matter, but it seems that they are doing three steps ahead and two backwards. They should improve it and they should show to the users in a serious and good way that their data will be protected forever.

Data Why should all my data be kept by Facebook for the next centuries? This is a good question and Zuck hasn’t replied yet to it. There is no reason to save all my data forever and most of all when I delete my account everything related to it should be deleted. Why don’t they do it ? It seems they are obsessed with control and managing people. They want to make the world a better place, but they want to do it in their way. They have introduced a new feature to delete permanently all the data, but why should I follow this process? Wouldn’t it be easier to delete everything when I decide to leave Facebook?

Software I am pretty sure that this could be the main concern. Facebook doesn’t care about what the users think. They constantly update their software because (I guess) their are afraid of what Google is doing with G+. It is always cool to have a software update with new features, but it is not cool that the software changes every six months. Why should we be obliged to have timeline? Who asked for it ? What Facebook didn’t understand is that 845 million of people live on the site. Facebook has become the home for many people. When you change and modify my home constantly I could be a little bit irritated. Instead, they should consider feedback and they should let the users choose what feature of Facebook they want.

Marketing and Advertising Normally, the average Facebook user doesn’t look at banners and so doesn’t care about it; but sometimes they are very intrusive and it seems that they are looking at you. Facebook has all your data and so it shows you banners that could interest you. In my case, there are always ads regarding pc, tech and software. Isn’t it a little bit weird? They are showing things that could be very interesting for me, but at the same time they are violating my privacy

Apps The apps have the same problems of the software, because they are not stable. I mean, I have been using the Facebook iPad app for a while and it still seems they didn’t understand the user’s needs. They changed the app twice and the first release was very bad. They really didn’t think about how a user communicates with his friends and so it was difficult to type messages in the chat. I am underlining this point because we are talking about a company that has 3000+ employees.

All these factors could cause the decay of a great company who has shaped the way we see the world today. We do not hate them, we just love them so much, but sometimes we need to underline their mistakes. With the born of Google plus and the raising popularity of Twitter who knows what it is going to be next…

USA Today – ‘Ship from Store’ strategy saves money…

One of the huge things I’ve noticed since living in the States is the fact that generally, their retailers are about 2 steps behind retail giants in the UK. You wouldn’t have thought it but honestly It’s true and It is evident everywhere. USA today just recently published the following article suggesting a “new” strategy of using stores as distribution hubs in order to compete against Amazon- UK stores have been doing this for years! Nevertheless, it continues to be these American brands who dominate- here’s why;

Some of the world’s largest retailers are turning their stores into mini distribution hubs to help them compete better online against

Instead of fulfilling Web orders from warehouses hundreds of miles from shoppers’ homes, companies including Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Gap are routing orders to stores nearby.

Store employees pick products from shelves, pack them into boxes and drop them into waiting FedEx and UPS trucks that zip off to homes a few miles away.

The trend, known as Ship from Store, saves money through shorter delivery routes. More important, it speeds deliveries, avoids costly markdowns and recoups sales that have been lost to Amazon, the world’s largest Internet retailer.

“This is the most important thing that will change physical retailers over the next five years,” said Matt Nemer, a retail industry analyst at Wells Fargo Securities.

A network of large stores — with high overhead costs — has become a liability rather than an asset in recent years. Amazon, which has no stores, won market share with lower prices and huge selection. But retailers have begun fighting back by using technology to get more sales out of stores — and ship-from-store is a big part of the effort.

“Amazon has already beaten most retailers on price and selection. The third battleground is location and the smart retailers are not conceding that,” said Tom Allason, founder of start-up Shutl, which helps retailers deliver online orders from stores.

Shutl’s service covers most shoppers in the U.K., where the firm partners with retailers including Argos, Oasis and Karen Millen. The start-up is also in Manhattan and plans to expand soon to other big U.S. cities including Los Angeles, Miami and San Francisco.

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, has been shipping online orders from some stores for about two years and about 35 stores do this now.

“We started ship-from-store as a test. It has exceeded every expectation we’ve had for it,” said Neil Ashe, head of Global eCommerce at Wal-Mart. “We will probably scale this to hundreds of stores.”

Already, 10% of the items ordered on are shipped from stores and the majority of those packages are delivered in two days or less, according to the company.

Two-thirds of the U.S. population live within five miles of a Wal-Mart store, so the company is using these locations as “nodes” in a broader distribution network that includes storage warehouses and specific fulfillment centers for online orders, Ashe explained.

Shipping from stores lets Wal-Mart offer faster delivery of online purchases “at very low cost,” said Joel Anderson, president of

The retailer saves money on fees it pays to carriers such as FedEx and UPS because delivery distances from stores are much shorter.

The strategy is helping some retailers that until recently were left for dead by investors concerned about the competitive threat from Amazon.

Best Buy, the largest consumer electronics retailer in the U.S., was labeled a “Big Box Zombie” on the cover of Bloomberg Businessweek magazine last October. In December, the stock hit a decade-low of $11.20, valuing the company at less than $4 billion — about 3% of Amazon’s market capitalization.

But Best Buy shares have more than tripled so far this year on optimism about a turnaround plan led by new Chief Executive Hubert Joly.

The plan focuses on “turning its store base from a cost liability to an offensive weapon,” Gary Balter, an analyst at Credit Suisse, said.

A crucial part of this is ship from store, which Best Buy has rolled out in about 50 locations.

Best Buy’s Joly sees it as a way to generate more online sales by avoiding situations where shoppers search for a product on its website and are told that it’s not available.

Best Buy gets about 1 billion online visits a year and in 2% to 4% of those cases shoppers cannot buy products because they are out of stock in the company’s e-commerce warehouses. But in 80% of those cases, Best Buy has the products in one of its physical stores.

“Unlocking this potential is an enormous opportunity,” Joly said earlier this year.

Shipping online orders from Best Buy stores could generate an extra $5.8 billion in sales and $168 million in profit next year for the company, according to Balter’s estimates.

Other retailers that have started doing this in recent years include Target, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Lowe’s, Gap, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Ann Inc. and Finish Line.

Physical stores will play a crucial role in driving online sales in the future, says Doug Anmuth, an analyst at J.P. Morgan.

It’s increasingly important as Amazon builds its own fulfillment centers closer to customers. In California, the company is constructing several giant warehouses one to two hours’ drive from San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Amazon already delivers packages in two days for free through its popular Prime subscription. The company is also testing same-day and next-day delivery through its AmazonFresh grocery business in Seattle and Los Angeles — challenging retailers on location, as well as price and selection.

Wal-Mart and other big retailers hope that, by turning stores into shipping hubs for online orders, they can re-create Amazon’s fulfillment network with the assets they already have.

“Some people talk about Amazon with their 100 distribution centers, God bless them. We have 2,600 distribution centers,” said Gap Chief Executive Glenn Murphy, referring to the apparel retailer’s network of Banana Republic, Gap and Old Navy stores.

Gap launched ship from store in 2012. The move has helped it deliver online orders faster, while avoiding situations where shoppers cannot find the right size or color of a particular garment.

Another big benefit: When stores have a lot of unsold products, online orders can be routed to locations with the most inventory. That helps limit costly discounts on unsold merchandise.

Wal-Mart and Best Buy also route online orders to stores that have the most inventory of a particular item.

Nordstrom started shipping online orders from its high-end department stores in 2009. It has helped the company maintain high levels of full-priced sales and get new fashions into stores quicker.

“There’s profit margin enhancement to fulfill an online order in a store that is about to take a markdown on that item,” said Wells Fargo’s Nemer. “It sounds very promising.”

The Rise and Fall of the Tech Firms.

It has been reported that tech firms, Apple and Google have leapfrogged Coca Cola to become the world’s top two brands- according to the Best Global Brands report from brand consultancy Interbrand.

The ranking looks at the role the brand plays in influencing consumer choice, financial performance of branded products or services and the strength the brand has to command a premium price. Coca Cola has held first place in these rankings for 13 years but its brand value changed very little in the past year- rising just 2% to $79.2bn, while Apple leapt 28% and Google surged 34%.

On the other hand we also note the fall of some previous category leaders such as Yahoo! And Blackberry who fell of the ranking entirely, while Nokia experienced the largest decline in brand value in the history of Best Global Brands- falling from 65% in 2012.

Interbrand suggested that Apple’s rise could be attributed to their ability to keep the consumer as the focal point of any innovation or strategy changes- anticipating their needs and wants in a way which kept them ahead of anyone else. The new leadership team at Apple had “kept Steve Jobs’ vision intact” enabling the business to continue to deliver on innovation despite the significant changes to their management structure.

Similarly, Google followed a similar general strategy but chose to use evolutionary changes in its core offerings to drive the growth in brand value- for example Android, Gmail, Google Glass etc.

Facebook was also noted as the fastest growing brand overall with its value up 43% year on year and even luxury brand Prada got a mention and was up a huge 28%.

Essentially, it appears to be the brands that think differently about the role they play in consumer’s lives and how to fulfil that role that have an opportunity to expand and grow in ways they never imagined.