As you like it

Yes, but what do they like? And who are “they” anyway? We are talking about young adults in German cities. Or better: We are talking with them. The focus is on the question about their values and attitudes. And the goals are to understand their way of life and to get to know the customers of tomorrow better. We want to know what moves them and how they want to be moved in the future.

09/06/2018 Reading Time: 17 min

A group of young people sit together laughing

Being young: an attitude to life

How does your life feel? Of course, we asked about it. But we also threw ourselves into the middle of it. To those ends, we asked a photographer in Munich to explore the everyday lives of young adults. The result is a series of pictures that provide insights into life in the middle of the Bavarian capital.

Values: opposites attract

Rationality and fun, family and individuality, goal orientation and social awareness – these are all values that are important. What seem to be opposites are not necessarily incompatible.

Portrait of a young woman

Just do it – but please don’t break anything

Catchword personal independence: “I admire people who just do what they feel like doing. Just go for it. Don’t worry about the consequences,” says Tim (26, Hamburg). At the same time, he deplores egoism and places great value on social behavior. With this opinion, he is not alone in his age group. “I want to be able to rely on people,” says Jakob (23, Mannheim). So reliability and commitment continue to play a role. Whether at the sports club, at university or with a small fashion label for regional designers – personal commitment is not a foreign concept for the youth of today. For Patrick (24, Munich), egoistical behavior is a “no go” – especially in the field of communication: “Conversation egomaniacs: people who only try to place their own position in a discussion. That really gets on my nerves.”

yeah" is written on a wooden floor with a cable

Collect moments, not things

A saying that often appears on Facebook profiles, postcards or WhatsApp. In a way, it’s a good reflection of young adults’ attitude to life. For example, Sebastian (25, Hamburg) answers the question about his plans for the next ten years: “I don’t like the question. I just don’t want to think about it. So much is happening – who knows who I might meet in that time and what I might experience. Sure, having a regular job is important. But I’m very open and don’t have any fixed expectations – that can only lead to disappointment.” Patrick shares this attitude: “I don’t want to make a ten-year plan. I prefer to drift. Thinks will work out.”


Whoever now thinks that the under-thirties are completely detached from conventional moral concepts is wrong. We also get to hear very traditional views: “It would be ideal to have found a job by then that I can do for the next 20 years and be able to bring up a family,” says Jakob about his life plan. “Finish my studies, have kids at some point,” says Teresa (26, Ingolstadt). But she also has her focus – like many others in her age group – especially on the present: “To be honest, I only have a two-year plan, so that I can live more consciously in the here and now she says.

Digression: What makes our youth tick?

A theoretical stocktaking

A special generation: They are on the move a lot, preferably without producing CO₂

Independence, sustainability, conscientiousness: These values influence the awareness of an entire generation. And that is reflected in their mobility behavior.

“I believe that the bicycle will become more and more popular: It’s not only good for the environment, it’s also very flexible. Besides, it doesn’t cost anything and I don’t have to look for a parking space,” says Sebastian. Lena transfers those thoughts into the future: “I would like more attention to be paid to nature and to have more transport by bicycle in the cities.”

In her everyday life, she does without a car a lot. Life in the city offers good alternatives. But that doesn’t mean that the car has lost its appeal: “When I have the money, I’ll buy myself a car. It’s simply a special luxury. I won’t want to share it then,” says Oskar (24, Cologne).

Several people walk through a cornfield

Wanted: a car for everyone who wants everything

On the question of future mobility, almost all of the young adults have a keen awareness of sustainability: For them, maximum protection of the environment and resources in the production and operation of a car is an essential goal. And they want to see that implemented in the near future. “The current status quo of our combustion engines […] could be developed much more towards sustainable and “aware” mobility with our technological expertise and progress,” says Jakob.

But for this age group, sustainability doesn’t only mean saving or doing without, but above all that manufacturers search for new technical solutions. “The main thing is that regenerative energy is applied and our resources are used carefully,” says Teresa. For the young adults, sustainability is not a question of doing without, but of the right technology. Creativity knows no limits: The young people want to have new materials that are lighter, close to nature, compostable and durable. In the discussion, ideas come up such as “solar-energy-absorbing outer skin,” the use of electromagnetic fields or of “ambient radiation” or of flow energy.

Increasing awareness of the environment and demands for its protection are less ideological than rational: The persons surveyed simply see it as sensible to protect resources. “Our generation was educated to be environmentally aware. The effects [of pollution] are already partially visible. For example, there’s no real winter any more, the River Alster no longer freezes over,” explains Tim, with regard to his personal interest in nature conservation.

That also applies to current concepts: Alternative drive systems are no excuse for boring cars, they say. The discussion about the electric car is uncompromising: They expect the same comfort and the same performance as with conventional cars. They see no contradiction between environmental awareness and driving pleasure or an attractive design. The latter is still a major expectation for a car. The time is ripe for cool electric cars – and not for more “eco vehicles.” The unwillingness to compromise applies to every aspect – also for generating the required electricity. Only when renewable energy sources are used can this be seen as a convincing solution.

Car sharing: getting there faster together

The fact is that young people want to be mobile around the clock – the main criterion is that it’s not too complicated. “Public transport is super: You don’t have to bother about anything. Just get on and get there. That’s less complicated than car sharing, when I have to search for a parking space,” says Tim. Whether parking is a problem or not, the young people surveyed see sharing options as a fixed element of their mobility portfolio. “Cars should be used more,” says Lena. And Teresa describes her own situation: “I arrive at a bus stop and have just missed the bus by a couple of minutes, and the next one is due in an hour. It would take an hour on foot, so I wait and watch cars passing every second, most of which have three or four empty seats and are driving in my direction. Then I think about how egotistically we actually use our mobility, instead of stopping and giving someone a lift.”

A woman and a bright light in the dark

It doesn’t work: when suddenly nothing works

The young adults frequently discover gaps in the public infrastructure. “Especially at night, it’s often difficult to get home,” says Lena. “In the inner city, everything is OK, but the outer suburbs are the problem,” says Tim. Such mobility gaps provide potential for new services. They see piloted driving as a promising solution. But the concept is not yet quite tangible. Patrick is skeptical: “I don’t see piloted driving coming in the next ten years. But it would fit in with my idea of how to spend one’s time – we will have time for other things during a journey.” Oskar is more optimistic: “Autonomous driving will become normal – for cars as well as buses and trains.” Secretly, he is dreaming even further: “I hope that jetpacks take on. Flying would be really cool.”

About the study

For the Future Kids study, a detailed online-panel survey was carried out (with more than 100 participants) as well as telephone interviews (with more than 500 participants). There were also three workshops in Berlin with a total of 50 selected participants. The target group was young adults between 17 and 29 years of age.

Further information related to trend and market research at Audi: Audi Innovation Research


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