Written by Dr. Taapsi Ramchandani
As I read the newspaper today about surges in Covid cases (should I be worried again? I’m on the fence… 😬) it took me back to March 2020 when we were all hunkered down, scared, concerned, and very cautious.
One of the earliest studies we did then was on the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on food habits of students and working professionals living away from home.
As we combed through that first dataset of 20 -29 year old's telling us about their isolated lives, we stumbled upon a really interesting pattern - many mentioned their family in the context of their evolving food choices. Many, many more studies later, I’m struck by how close kin continue to figure prominently in different life choices of Zoomers and early Millennials.
Read on if your audience is between 20 and 29 years old and:
- You’re a brand marketer interested in mapping influencers and guides of this audience
- You’re a communication specialist who wants to build a literary bridge to this audience
- You’re a social media strategist who’s on the lookout for interesting content that will grab eyeballs
- You’re a founder trying to figure out the cultural gatekeepers influencing this audience’s buying habits
Let’s get into it…
Adult children relied on their parents for guidance during the time of great social rupture and uncertainty. Veg biryani, anyone?
Two months into the lockdown, students living away from home who once swore by their chicken, mutton and pork fests had given them up cold turkey (pun intended). The reason? Their parents told them to. Parents were concerned about virus transmission through meat as well as the susceptibility linked to meat contamination. And the kids listened.
Q: Are you getting access to non-veg food during the lockdown?
A: We have access to it here but we're not eating it.
A: We have been told by our families not to eat it. So we're like, "Ok. Let's listen to them right now."
Female family elders are the #1 support choice for many pregnant women and new mothers.
There are those women who vocally asked for help from others and those who chose to self-educate using online resources as their first choice when it came to babycare. For the former, it was mothers, nanis, dadis, sisters, sister-in-laws and mother-in-laws who made the first cut. WhatsApp groups were a close second.
Q: When you make a decision about something related to your baby like, maybe, about which food to start now - what's the first thing you do?
A: I have a dadi ma at home, so I ask her. Then I cross verify this information, because the older generation thinks differently...so I'll ask the Whatsapp group, or Google. Dadi ma is my grandmother who doesn't live with us, but I talk to her...and then I read a lot of information, google or something. And if I have a doubt, then I will call the paediatrician.
When it comes to education, the influence of parents is complicated.
Students are negotiating their freedom of choice and expression against the backdrop of familial responsibilities and expectations. Sometimes, parents “win” - shaping choices based on geographical proximity, inspiring career choices. In other cases, students are actively subverting the latter’s influence to forge their own paths. They’ll get that coveted degree because papa said so but the journey to get there will be on their own terms.
Q: Why did you not look to aim for the IITs, NITs when choosing a college for yourself?
A: So after 10th, I talked to my teachers, and I told them like...’I want to do a diploma.’ So they were like...’You can't do diploma, you have to pass from 12th and all, and my parents were also against it. They said like ‘11th-12th karna hi chihiye’ (you should do 11th-12th), everyone does does that... go for IIT, JEE and all that...but I was pretty clear, because I was getting admission in one of the biggest colleges of India - Veermata Jijabhai Technology Institute. So I was pretty clear that if I did this, I would be getting also like, practical knowledge. And like, there was some financial problem also. I don't want to spend my parents money in doing the JEE stuff because I was not really inclined towards it.
Remember I had mentioned our research partnership with People Konnect to unpack experiences of working professionals around The Great Resignation? Well, the free report drops on LinkedIn tomorrow so do look out for it!
You can also watch this video of my researcher, Sumeet, and I discussing some key findings.
Onward and upward.