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Protein Audience Survey 2012 速



Introduction Welcome For over 14 years Protein has specialised in

I hope this 2012 edition provides you with some

connecting audiences with emerging culture and

inspiration and insight for your year ahead.

new ideas. At the heart of everything we do is our

We’re always keen to hear any feedback, so if you

global audience of over 50 million 18-35 year old

have any questions, comments and suggestions,

influencers. They’re what we call cultural innovators

please just drop us a line.

- they create trends, change thinking and continually challenge traditional models of media. More importantly though, this audience is redefining consumer tastes, attitudes and behaviour, meaning that what they’re doing today is what the wider market will be doing tomorrow. And because of this, Protein Networks continually researches their habits and lifestyles in order to understand where they are,

William Rowe, CEO & Founder, Protein Ltd.

how they think and what makes them tick. So we

created this, our second annual Audience Survey, in which we observe, analyse and explain how they live, work and play. However, your research doesn’t need to stop there. You can continually monitor and track behaviours and new ideas through the Protein OS, a suite of apps, events and daily insights. We’ve also produced a short film to accompany this survey, which presents street voxpops from around the world, alongside animated data visualisations and profiles of the people driving these trends, all of which you can view here:




Methodology The Survey The audience is what makes us. It’s what we call

Once the survey finished running, our in-house

the readers of our online publication network, a

insight team analysed the data and contextualised

group of leading cultural websites that specialise in

the findings. To do this we used desk research and

music, art, design, fashion, travel and technology.

our existing observations on trends and behavioural

It’s our quantitative sample of consumers that we

change, as well as asking leading experts their

continually talk to, monitor and analyse. It’s through

thoughts about the current state and future of

these observations that we can understand the

their industries. And we created further context

tastes, attitudes and behaviours of tomorrow’s

by including examples of key cultural innovators,

18-35 year olds.

projects, stores and spaces that resonate with our audience and are shaping future trends.

To do this we conducted a survey across our global network, which consisted of a series of questions

The result is what you see before you: an in-depth

about lifestyle habits. An MPU advert was placed on a

trend report that analyses the behaviours and tastes

series of key websites, which invited people to fill in a

of today’s 18-35 year old cultural innovators.

short survey. This ran for two months in late 2011 and allowed us to collect a total of 2,218 responses. This year’s survey was the biggest yet and used even more of our network. Participants included Dezeen, ArchDaily, MoCo Loco, Who Sampled?, FACT Magazine, Superfuture, Unlike City Guides and Vimeo.




Demographic Our Audience So who, exactly, is the Protein Audience? The

According to the results, our audience is a highly

majority of this year’s survey sample are 18-24

educated group with around 85% saying they have

years old, with 77% in this age group while 23% are

an undergraduate degree or higher, and a third say

over 35 years old. Most of them are male (57%) and

they have a postgraduate degree. Some are still

around 43% are female.

studying, with 16% saying they’re currently students.

The UK is the most represented country with 43%

Those currently in work are mostly employed in

of the sample. Around 16% live in the US and 3%

creative roles. The most popular industry is art and

in Canada. Europe is also included in the sample,

design, with around one fifth (19%) of the sample

with 3% from Germany, 2% from France, and 2%

saying they work in this sector. A further 16% work

from The Netherlands. A further 3% are Australian

in advertising and marketing.

and 2% are Brazilian. In total, the sample included people who lived in over 80 different countries around the world.

What country are you from?

What industry do you work in?

How old are you?



Art & Design




United States














Media & PR


















Science & Tech














Online Services











Carey, 21, Student, Manchester

Alex, 23, Blogger/DJ, London

Jo, 25, Trend Researcher, London

Marshall, 22, Promoter, London

Ansen, 20, Blogger, Shanghai

Ansen, 20, Shanghai Ansen, 25, Marketing Assistant, Shanghai

Camille, 28, Art Director, Brussels



Red Light Radio, Amsterdam


‘The increased inter-connectivity of everyone has made it much easier to have an audience. You don’t need a publicity machine behind you.’ Sam Spiegel, Music Producer

HypermarchĂŠ, Hamburg



Listen Up

Vinyl Revision

While the industry itself may remain flustered by the

As we continue to move into the ever faster and

internet, our audience’s behaviour is slowly redefining

digital realm, we’ve noticed some of our audience

how music is consumed. For them, it’s all about shared

want to slow this movement down. Although CDs

experiences, whether that’s on- or off-line.

may well and truly be over, we continue to see a rise in the number of vinyl releases from artists.

From stacks of CDs and records, to heavily stocked

In fact, according to the Entertainment Retailers

iTunes folders, ideas around the ownership of music

Association (ERA), UK vinyl sales were up 55% on

are changing as streaming technology gets faster

last year in the UK.

and better. It’s no longer necessary to physically own a piece of music, as sites such as Spotify,

A number of smaller record labels are leading this

Rdio, MOG and Grooveshark now offer access

movement and continuing to bridge the gap between

to seemingly endless amounts of music all in one

music and art, partnering with artists to produce

place. Not to mention, it’s legal. It’s a trend we

limited edition vinyls and prints. We found that a small

expect will grow even more, with one fifth of our

group of vinyl fans in our audience (16%) are keeping

audience saying that they prefer to listen to music

the format alive. And despite the digital revolution, a

on streaming sites.

few – around a tenth (11%) of our audience – are still purchasing physical albums as keepsakes.

When our audience want to find new music, they typically turn to their friends (77%) for recommendations or use music sites (64%) such as Pitchfork and FACT Magazine. And as more music software integrates with Facebook, such as the recent Spotify app, our audience are turning to social networks to discover new music (54%), often based on what their friends have been listening to.


Which format do you purchase the most? MP3




Don’t purchase




Online streaming


TDK C90’s


Which format do you prefer to listen to? MP3


Online streaming






TDK C90’s




Live Music On The Rise

Community Broadcasting

Live music is very much alive and well. Our

Many of these 18-35 year olds are taking their

audience regularly watch bands and DJs play at

hyperlocal sensibilities and adding them to the live

concerts, clubs and events: a tenth see live music

music experience. The result? Community radio

every week, around 12% see it every fortnight,

stations. Just look at the success of East London’s

and a further quarter (26%) see it every month. No

Boiler Room. Part-live gig and part-online radio station,

wonder there’s been an explosion in micro-events

the show invites people to come to its regular events

and boutique festivals. According to industry

to watch emerging DJs play, while coverage is also

magazine IQ, in Europe alone there were between

streamed live over the web. Anyone with an internet

2,500 and 3,000 music festivals this year.

connection can join in.

And live concerts aren’t always just a band on a

NTS Radio, also in London, is another example. It

stage. Increasingly, innovative twists on traditional

broadcasts from a town square in the Dalston district

performance are coming to the fore, giving 18-

of the city, and uses its website to let people listen

35 year olds a more visceral and unpredictable

to its shows, as well as see the personalities behind

experience. Rizlab, for instance, is a live music

them and photographs of the Dalston community. ‘I

workshop by Rizzla, which pairs a musician with a

guess we’re offering a really good way to tap into a

visual artist in order to create a multi-sensory event.

scene,’ says Clair Urbahn, co-founder of NTS Radio.

For those who miss it, coverage can be watched

‘There seems to be a worldwide interest in Dalston at

online in real time via a video stream.

the moment.’ The trend exists beyond London, too. In Amsterdam, Red Light Radio broadcasts live DJ sets from a former brothel window in a backstreet of the city. And DUBLAB in Los Angeles, as well as FBi in Sydney, both use a similar mix of in-the-flesh and on-the-web live events to present new music.

‘If we can listen to an album online, why shouldn’t we be able to watch a live show or club night online too?’ Antony Hill, FACT Magazine


Numbers Warehouse Party, London



Norse Projects, Copenhagen


‘Everyone is really discovering heritage and utilising it to tell their own story.’ Marcus Ross, Jocks & Nerds

Rl Lacoste x



Style Council

Social Commerce

Many of our audience live at the cutting-edge of

Our digitally native audience are, as expected,

fashion. But this cutting-edge isn’t so much about new

regularly buying clothing on the web. Around a

trends and standing out, as spending wisely, valuing

fifth (17%) say they make several online purchases

quality and looking for craftsmanship in items they buy.

a month, and a quarter (26%) say they do so at least every two months. It’s no wonder that so

The most important thing our audience looks for in

many retailers are revamping their sites to include

an item of clothing is that it suits them, with 78%

editorial stories, video content and anything else

saying this was vital. Value is also important, with

that helps to make them more ‘sticky’.

55% saying they seek this in an item. A further 38% want new clothing to be durable and last a long time.

Luxury menswear webstore Mr Porter has pioneered this trend with a website that’s equal part

But how do they decide what to buy? For 59% the

shop and style magazine. It features interviews with

most popular source of fashion inspiration is other

leading style icons, stories about how to dress well

people in the street. Nearly half (46%) say their

and in-depth features on brands. All of which then

fashion is inspired by friends, and around 38% say

link back to products on sale in the shop. Topman

they’re inspired by subcultures. Celebrity culture,

has also been inspired by this trend, adding a

meanwhile, barely registers with our audience. Only

monthly online magazine called Topman Generation

10% say they’re inspired by celebs when it comes

to its e-commerce site. It features profiles with

to fashion, and only 20% say they’re inspired by

young emerging artists, designers and musicians.

what they see on television. And it’s not just editorial that’s being used by In terms of fashion media, blogs remain the most

fashion stores. In Sweden, interior design store

popular format, with 55% saying they regular read

Lagerhaus created the first online pop-up shop,

them to stay ahead on new trends. But old media

the Blog-Up Store, which saw six bloggers host a

isn’t redundant. Our audience still value something

widget on their site that featured a series of curated

they can hold in their hands, with 52% saying they’re

items that people could buy for a limited time only.

informed about fashion by magazines. It’s a rise of independent fashion publications, such as Inventory in the US and The Gentlewoman in the UK, that seems to be giving the medium this new lease of life.


People on the street


















Celebrity style






People on the street

How do you discover new trends?



Celebrity Style







Future Shop

Craft & Graft

Our audience are keen online shoppers but they still

In our post-industrial and digital world, the

enjoy the experience of a bricks and mortar store.

handmade is increasingly celebrated by people as

Despite all the frills and gimmicks that retail brands

a luxury. And our audience is no exception. They’re

are adding to their physical stores in a bid to entice

demanding more products that have been made by

online shoppers back, our audience simply want

hand, with around half (47%) saying they look for

an old-school store environment. By far the most

‘craftmanship’ in the clothing they buy.

important thing they look for in a store is that it sells top quality products, with 81% saying exactly this.

Several brands are responding to this need with video

Over half (58%) want a shop to be well-designed. And

content that communicates the production process

a further 53% say they simply want good service.

behind their goods. It’s also being represented in our audience’s media. Inventory magazine, for instance,

And so much for QR clothes labels, AR technology

features profiles with the designers, makers and

and NFC purchasing: only 6% want to see the latest

craftspeople behind contemporary brands such

technology in a shop. And in our current age of

as White Mountaineering and Nigel Cabourn. Ben

austerity, luxury retail just doesn’t seem to matter

Sherman’s Conversations in Modernism campaign

to them either: only 4% say they’re interested. For

paired two contemporary makers together to

retailers, it’s time to get back to basics.

talk about modern design, and documented the conversation through videos on its website.

‘Social media is proving that it’s not enough to open an online store and expect lots of sales. People want to buy what their friends have.’ Lee Carter, Hint Mag


Smith Journal, Melbourne



Berg Studio, London


‘It’s incredible that it’s now common to see a video made by a guy in Asia, then see him have a conversation with someone in Miami and see them talk about these new creative devices they’re working on.’ Blake Whitman, Vimeo



Digital Natives

Social Content

Last year we reported how our audience were early

Our audience’s online habits are a mix of social

adopters of technology. Of course, they still are. But

networking and information research. Despite the

what’s becoming more apparent is their need for

rise of Facebook, email still remains key, with 60%

devices and software that add function to their lives.

saying this is the activity they spend most time

They simply won’t download an app unless there’s

on while online. Staying up to date with the latest

a purpose, whether that’s to pay for goods, keep an

news is also popular, with 54% saying they do this

eye on their fitness or simply check the weather.

the most, and a further 45% say they prefer online editorial publications. They also like to create their

That’s not to say they aren’t consuming large

own content. With use of Facebook, as well as niche

amounts of technology. There might be a Digital

sites such as Instagram, photo-sharing has become

Downtime movement, as we mentioned in our

a key activity, with around a third (30%) saying they

Overview section, but our audience remain as

do this while online. Photo-blogging too has become

teched-out as ever. Around 46% of them have an

prominent, particularly with the rise of Tumblr, which

iPhone, about half (49%) own some sort of MP3

grew in membership by 218% last year.

player and 64% of them have a digital camera. They tend to prefer Apple computers, with 58% owning

Twitter remains popular, with about a third (30%)

a Mac and 42% a PC. The iPad is proving more

saying they like to spend time reading other

popular than alternative tablet devices, with around

people’s tweets. Branded tweets, created by

16% owning one, while 2% own an Android-based

companies however, aren’t so popular, with just

tablet device. In terms of gaming, the Wii is the

10% saying they read them. But most of all, people

most popular device, with 13% owning one, while

just want to browse the web and procrastinate, with

a further 9% own an Xbox console, and 6% a

63% saying they use the internet to simply search

Playstation PSP.

for inspiration.

People are now interested in small stories because of the media. Before it was newspapers and television. But now it’s more about Twittering small moments.’ Oki Sato, Nendo


Reading tweets by brands Talking to friends Emailing Browsing for inspiration

Location-based so


What do you do online? Browsing for inspiration


Reading tweets by people




Streaming videos


Staying up to date with news


Photo sharing


Streaming music


Location-based social networking


Reading editorial content


Reading tweets by brands


Talking to friends


Playing games


ocial networking

ng tweets by people Streaming videos Photo sharing Browsing for inspiration Staying up to date with news Playing games Streaming music



Mobile Commerce

Quantified Self

The audience is using mobile phones for so much

Our audience are proving that data isn’t just for nerds.

more than just communication. They use their

A growing trend for these 18-35 year olds is the use of

devices as travel guides, as health monitors and

apps and devices to record habits in order to improve

news services. They’re also increasingly using them

their lifestyles. Apps such as Daytum let people

to buy products. Payment apps such as Square are

use their phone to record, well, just about anything.

enabling this to happen outside and away from the

Whether it’s tracking coffee consumption or how

cash register. The system has recently been used

many miles they run each weekend, people input data

by the Salvation Army in the US to enable on-the-

about their habits for self analysis later on.

spot donations by people who don’t have enough cash with them. Then there’s Google Wallet, which

‘People will be more active and fit if they understand

uses Near-Field Communication (NFC) technology

more about how they move and how their body

to let people make payments in a store simply by

behaves,’ says Dr Marco Cardinale, the Head

waving their smartphone in front of a reader. The

of Sports Science and Research at the British

technology is still in its infancy, but we predict it will

Olympic Association. ‘The ability to provide real time

only get bigger. Especially as 20% of our early-

information and continuous feedback on various

adopting Audience say they want to pay for goods

parameters can actually help more people exercise

with their phone as well as their cash and card in

and motivate them.’

coming years. Plus a further 14% want their mobile to function as a travel card. But don’t forget the Slow Technology movement. Many of the Audience don’t always want the latest tech fix for the sake of it. The key is functionality. After all, around a quarter (24%) say they just want their phone to be a phone.


Protein Index


Conclusion Despite our turbulent times, this year’s survey shows that our audience remain positive, productive and pro-active. They’re a social group operating both on- and off-line. They seek convivial environments, niche gatherings and face-to-face moments. They share a desire to support local enterprise – whether it’s buying a beer from a neighbourhood micro-brewery or supporting artists through a community radio station. Within retail, they look to brands that display values of authenticity, simplicity and straightforward service. They support their local stores and shopkeepers, preferring to buy products of quality, value and craftmanship. They also seek this sense of craft in the culture they consume, whether that’s a workshop that invites them to participate in a hands-on activity, or a piece of media that shows the processes behind a product. They want brands to share a similar outlook and to create visually compelling content that reveals production methods and the talented craftsmen behind them. Our audience are set to be at the forefront of cultural change and new consumer behaviour. For brands, this means engaging them online through purposeful content and offline through live events in their local neighbourhood. By supporting them in a tone, manner and voice that’s appropriate, brands can also be part of their constantly changing world.





Audience Survey 2012  

Protein Audience Survey 2012

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