Mapping Youth Culture


The Cue Group is more than just a consulting firm; it is a creative laboratory, a think tank, and a hub of cultural anthropologists. At the Cue Group we are purveyors of culture, and we network within multi-cultural and millennial communities to bring our clients insight into the changing American and global demographics.

This project was a collaboration between Kweli Washington, Cue Group Founder and Principal, and Melissa Gray Washington, Cue Group Creative Director. It was born out of a frustration with the way large consumer corporations try to engage youth sub-culture and, oftentimes, the minority groups that fall into these sub-cultures. Historically, consumer companies have segmented their markets based solely on racial identification. They hire celebrities, like Beyoncé or Britney Spears, to engage young people. They spend large amounts of money using celebrity spokespeople. The thought is "If Britney drinks Pepsi, then so should I."   

We at the Cue Group disagree with this approach. In the changing world of the 21st Century, corporations have to be more thoughtful about how to engage customers. We embarked on this project to 1) redefine youth culture, and, in particular, the various sub-cultures that comprise youth culture and 2) determine how to effectively engage these sub-cultures in a meaningful, authentic way. We call this endeavor The New Consumer Taxonomy, a fresh approach to market segmentation based on cultural affinity rather than racial identification. 

With the Community Understanding and Engagement (CUE) method, we used ethnographic research to understand the culture, influence patterns, and values that define these subcultures. Below are a few illustrative examples of some of the sub-cultures we identified. 

We turned our observations into a Market Segmentation. I created the matrix below to qualitatively describe some of the characteristics of these groups. I worked with Kweli Washington to devise a method to quantify the market size of each group using a variety of assumptions based on our understanding from our research. (Note that Market Size data has been removed as it is proprietary information of the Cue Group). 

We pitched this idea to a global advertising firm, and it was very well received. In fact, the advertising firm brought us in to pitch our work to a major sports league which was undergoing policy changes in order to more effectively engage their customers. 

Intellectual Property of The Cue Group.

Taxonomy Graphic Design credit: Melissa Gray Washington.

Initial concept credit: Kweli Washington and Melissa Gray Washington.