NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - Jan 6, 2015) - A generation of US consumers is experiencing a convergence of digital and physical relationships in ways previously unseen, according to the Fall/Winter 2014 Cassandra Report: Digital Issue released today by Deep Focus. Nearly one-third (32%) of Cassandra Report respondents (ages 18 to 34) say they feel close to people they have met only online and more than three-quarters (76%) indicate they have friends on social media who are not really their friends. These findings are tied to a rapidly growing desire for more intimate, customized and substantive experiences and transforming the segment's preferences and interactions online.

"Do not underestimate the significance of 'eLationships' for young consumers. Their desire for intimacy now transcends physical and digital boundaries, impacting every aspect of their lives," said Jamie Gutfreund, CMO of Deep Focus. "This massive behavioral shift has resulted in a new era of digital engagement, where stories and emotions have become the currency for creating relationships and forging meaningful connections. These findings should serve as a wakeup call to anyone seeking to engage Gen Y consumers."

For Gen Ys, this "digital intimacy" manifests itself most notably in social communities. As young consumers now have constant access to the stories of others, they seek platforms, tools and digital connections that turn strangers into friends. In fact, more than one-third of 18- to 34-year-olds now consider "eLationships" as meaningful as in-person relationships.

This redefined meaning of intimacy is also reflected in the increasing concern for how Gen Ys present themselves to the world. More than 50% of respondents say they think about how their clothing will look in photos when they get dressed every day. Their efforts to achieve a bigger "return on identity" reflects an awareness of how their image in the real world impacts their efforts to gain attention through social media. This need to work harder to be noticed also explains why this generation considers likes to be more valuable than followers.

The study revealed that 64% of 18- to 34-year-olds are now more aware of the importance of their online reputation than they've been previously. This digital visibility has brought about a heightened sense of accountability resulting in a higher ethical code of conduct. When it comes to the type of content Gen Ys consume and share, nearly 50% of Cassandra Report respondents indicate they feel bad after clicking on or reading gossipy or negative content.

"Gen Ys are beginning to hold themselves, and their peers, accountable for their actions in both the digital and physical worlds," said Gutfreund. "They now demand the same code of conduct from the companies and technologies with which they interact."

It stands to reason, then, that Gen Ys are craving innovations that enable them to make their digital lives more intimate and deliver new ways to build relationships with people who share their passions. Overall, 58% think that technology makes people feel more connected and 41% say that gaming, specifically, is a way for them to connect with people from other countries. On top of this, Gen Ys are increasingly fascinated by state-of-the-art inventions that enable them to merge their digital and physical experiences: 25% of 18- to 34-year-olds are using fitness trackers with more frequency than in 2013 and 12% are using more wearable tech like Google Glass.

Deep Focus' Cassandra Report, published quarterly, provides insight into the major attitudinal and behavioral shifts amongst Gen Y (individuals born between 1980 and 1996). To uncover additional insights regarding the digital attitudes and online behaviors of Gen Y, and learn more about the report, visit

Fall/Winter 2014 Cassandra Report: Digital Issue was generated through an online survey among two disparate respondent groups in the United States: a nationally representative sample of 901 Mainstream 18- to 34-year-olds and 302 Trendsetter 18- to 34-year-olds, sourced from Deep Focus' private online-community, Cassandra Speaks. Community members are hand-selected for their creative, expressive and forward-thinking mindsets. *To determine which community members fit the Trendsetter criteria, respondents were asked a series of questions regarding their digital consumption habits, social behaviors and degree of progressive and experimental thinking. The survey was fielded from October 2, 2014 through October 14, 2014.

About Deep Focus
Deep Focus, a subsidiary of Engine USA, is a full-service agency with offices in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Shanghai. Founded in 2002, Deep Focus was acquired by Engine Group in 2010 and now includes the youth marketing expertise of Noise | The Intelligence Group. The agency is home to the Cassandra Report, the leading ongoing syndicated study of youth culture for marketers. Deep Focus' client roster is comprised of a variety of progressive brands, including Nestlé, Intel, Purina, Pernod-Ricard, Samsung, E. & J. Gallo Winery, Yahoo!, Cole Haan, YouTube, Victoria's Secret, Chase and Nordstrom. To learn more, visit

Contact Information:

Sara Ajemian
DiGennaro Communications
(646) 380-4761