Truculent Introverts or Trusted Inspirers?

Harnessing Teen Perspectives in research

Kevin and Perry first slouched onto our TV screens in the early 1990s, courtesy of Harry Enfield and Kathy Burke. A 15 year-old back then would be in their mid-40s now, quite possibly wondering when the teenager of their own will next emerge from upstairs to demand some sustenance or a lift to a friend’s (‘cos like buses – no way).

Today’s “grown-ups” might reflect on Kevin insolently mumbling “shut up” or Perry’s deferentially one-dimensional “yes Mrs Patterson” and wonder if such an audience is likely to be a rich source of illuminating insight.

To tar today’s teens with the brushes of 30 years ago may not be wholly fair, but the traits above remain widely experienced and felt today by parents and wider society. Clients can be understandably nervous of engaging teens as a result, questioning the value of doing so and wondering if it’s just a challenge too far.

Let’s take a step back

The source and inspiration for 12.18 @ The Nursery was the number of (grand-) parents that told us they relied on the kids in their family for tech instruction and advice, and how many used them as sounding boards to understand new media, trends and emerging brands (in particular) – “I had to ask them what the hell was in ‘Prime’ given the price they were charging”.

In one ethnographic study, Teens told us how they loved introducing their parents to Minecraft and gaming – this was roles reversed with the child as educator/ teacher and the adult as student. Parents were at times taken aback by how impressive their kids could be, and saw a side to them that, perhaps, had been hidden for a while. For the kids, to welcome an engaged Mum or Dad into their world made them feel capable, confident, embraced, happy.

It is that spirit and capacity to rise to the occasion that underpins what 12.18 is all about.

True Influencers

It is neither naïve nor optimistic to regard Teens as influencers. They are. We see it in the examples above, and we see it in their early adopting behaviours. When channelled, their reactions are instinctive, honest and sharp, not sullied by world-weary cynicism. They push boundaries, they can challenge ideas and they can improve them.

Trusted Inspirers

In establishing 12.18 @ The Nursery, we spoke to Teens and asked them how they would expect and like to be treated and approached in research. This led to the development of our three golden principles:

Our key principles when talking to young people:

1. Influencer emphasis

They are there as experts, their opinion matters

2. Our terms, their spaces

No dumbing down, no parent-child, just age appropriate adaptation

3. Adapt not reduce

The settings may be different but the process is purposeful, with clear expectations and shared objectives

The result is a more peer-to-peer environment and better, richer insight into, and from, this youth audience… approach 12 – 18s as a source of trusted inspiration, and trusted inspirers they will be.

Get in touch at or see our Youth Page for more information.