Thatcher's children have grown up conservatively: Rhys Williams reports on the caring, sweet-smelling youth of today

Click to follow
The Independent Online
REARED on recession and the threat of Aids, Thatcher's children - who grew up in the Eighties - have come of age quietly and conservatively.

According to a report on youth lifestyles published yesterday, they are 'cautious, caring, and well balanced'. They also smell nice.

The report, by the market research company Mintel, suggested that young people would prefer to be seen as 'loyal and trustworthy' not 'wild and unpredictable'; 'sensible and responsible' rather than 'streetwise'.

Angela Hughes, a consumer research manager at Mintel, said: 'It's the recession and growing up in an environment blighted by Aids. There is no way they can be as free and easy in financial and sexual terms. Once upon a time young people could afford to be idealistic.'

The report is also responsible for devising the latest demographic horror in terms of jargon. Hard on the heels of the 'baby boomers' comes the 'boomerang generation' - those young people being forced back under their parents' roofs by unemployment and housing shortages.

Nevertheless, young people are more confident than most that the recession will end soon, although their spending priorities are unlikely to create a boom. About 60 per cent said that they would rather save than spend, compared with just under half of all adults.

Fear of Aids has spawned a new sexual responsibility. Only 40 per cent of young people now believe they have no risk of getting Aids, compared with nearly 60 per cent in 1989. This translates into more than two- thirds of those surveyed who said they would never sleep with somebody on the first date, and 92 per cent who think it is important to wear a condom when having sexual intercourse. Nearly half claimed to have changed their sexual behaviour.

The survey also unearthed a penchant for the curious pursuit of 'grazing'. This roughly translates as snacking or, as the market research world put it, 'making the most of near-meal opportunities'. A massive 97 per cent admitted to eating crisps and sweets between meals.

More than one-third of those questioned said that they had experimented with drugs, twice as many as Mintel's 1989 survey, with one in six having tried hard drugs.

Over half believed that their appearance was important, with jeans being the most popular 'fashion' accessory by far - bought by 80 per cent. Sports clothing and footwear (shell suits and trainers) bought for casual use remain popular - 70 per cent of 15- to 19-year-olds wear trainers, and 57 per cent sportswear.

Still, if Britain's youth cannot quite match the Continent in the style stakes, they are at least fragrant - they are more likely than the average person to use perfume or aftershave.

Youth Lifestyles 1993: Changing Attitudes, Behaviour and Spending; published by Mintel; pounds 795.