Bah Humbug!

As we head into the holidays, ChaCha is getting a lot of interesting questions from our young users via text message. The questions have a different tone and shine a light on what teens and young adults are thinking at this time of year.

We were surprised, and a little saddened, to see that our users aren't feeling so good right now. Of the almost 2 million questions we received over the last couple of days, about 43,000 were related to the holidays and depression:

  • "Why does Christmas shopping happen so soon?"
  • "Why is this Christmas so depressing?"
  • "Is there a name for depression around the holidays?"

To get more insight into how they were really feeling, we ran a quick mobile survey of our 18-24 year olds and received about 337 responses in about three hours.

Here's what we asked:

What are you and your friends concerned about this year?
Overwhelming concern: The Future. College. Jobs. The Economy. They said things like, "passing the SAT, "money for college" and "getting a job" and "the end of the world in 2012." About 10% were concerned about personal relationships. Only about 3% were concerned about politics, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.



One 24-year-old male said: "Jobs and our future are a big concern. We are a really talented bunch that just happens to be at the height of our ambition at the exact time the economy is hurting."

What is on your holiday wish list?
55% wanted electronics of some kind (iPod's, laptops, a new phone, video games, Kindle). 33% wanted gift cards of any kind. 9% wanted new clothes, mountain bikes or a new car. Only a handful asked for "love" and the happiness of their families or a good grade on their exams.

And some were telling, or just really amusing.

  • "A new water heater, because ours is broken. And a laptop"
  • "A GPS and an area rug"
  • "Good reads, hamburger phone (Juno style), home accessories from Ikea"
  • "f100 Ranger '70 (black) ipod touch, gift card to forever 21, and $1 million to give away :)"

One 22-year-old woman said: "Gift cards. I always like to pick things out myself or save up for higher ticket items."

What are you most excited about this year?
Only one person said they didn't have anything to be excited about. Almost everyone listed a personal relationship as the most exciting thing: boyfriend, girlfriend. One said they were excited they finally lost their virginity.

A 20 year old woman said: "Hoping to travel and experience very cool places, build really strong friendships with amazing people, and find my partner in crime!"

It's pretty obvious that they really want to be connected and to feel loved, especially during these uncertain times. As marketers, we tend to forget this and our communication can become very "business-like" and detached.

Finally, we asked:

If you could give one tip to marketers about how to best talk to you, what would it be?
6% said "never," but 94% responded that they wanted to be talked to like a friend. There were pretty specific, too:

  • "Be nice and not demanding"
  • "In a friendly way"
  • "Like I am an adult"
  • "On my level"
  • "In a sexy voice, LOL"
  • "Talk to me with a sense of humor and closeness. As if we were longtime friends."

'Tis the season to remember: Be nice. Be friendly. Talk to each person like you know him or her. They will respond because they not only prefer it, but they may need it more than you know.

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