Sunday Times GenNext: Winning the hearts and minds of young SA

Register for the next Sunday Times GenNext digitised conversation on May 13 on prioritising safety over the right to privacy

22 April 2021 - 10:09
Young South Africans are more financially empowered and highly connected than ever, typically spend more online than the global average, with 67% owning a smartphone.
Young South Africans are more financially empowered and highly connected than ever, typically spend more online than the global average, with 67% owning a smartphone.
Image: Pexels/KeiraBurton

After making it through a challenging year in 2020, young people now face an uncertain future. In their favour, they are resilient, creative and determined to succeed. And as they search for meaning, guidance and support in a volatile world, brands have an opportunity to help them achieve their dreams. 

Despite being a highly influential market, young people continue to be misunderstood, said Yellowwood MD Refilwe Maluleke at a recent Sunday Times GenNext digitised conversation, in partnership with Yellowwood and Gautrain. The conversation focused primarily on how brands can connect in a meaningful and effective way with the youth of SA.

“Though 55% of the country’s spending power resides with them, only 20% of advertising is directed at them,” said Maluleke. “Young South Africans are more financially empowered and highly connected than ever, typically spend more online than the global average, with 67% owning a smartphone.

“They are independent thinkers and make their own choices. According to research conducted by Yellowwood, only 45% of young people are loyal to the brands their parents buy. So if brands want to tap into the enormous potential of the country’s youth, they will need to speak directly to young people — and on their own terms.” 

In 2020, Telkom was voted the coolest telecoms provider by the youth of SA. Zukisa Modisakeng, head of brand, communication and consumer segment marketing at Telkom, said that central to the brand’s turnaround was developing value propositions for different segments of the market by listening to what customers wanted. 

Nando’s, which is renowned for its irreverence and witty campaigns, was voted the coolest place to eat out by the youth in 2020. Doug Place, Nando’s chief marketing officer of Africa, Middle East and South Asia, said the brand’s advertising tries to reflect back to South Africans what is important to them. Young people are burnt out by overly capitalistic and inauthentic brands, and frustrated by consistently broken promises.

“The challenge is to be consistently empathetic with the youth market,” said Place, adding that when marketing is done well, it is a response to a need. The idea of shared value needs to be intrinsically embedded in a business. 

In 2020, DStv was voted the coolest content delivery platform by young South Africans, outperforming global giants such as YouTube, Netflix and Amazon. Thabisa Mkhwanazi, executive head of marketing at DStv, said that the platform’s storytelling and content resonates with the youth as they try to make sense of the world they live in. 

Yatish Narsi, chief experience officer at Grid Worldwide, said the youth is not a subsector: brands need to be looking at how they can add value across the value chain.  

Bonolo Masukume, a member of Yellowwood’s junior board of directors, said the brands that resonate with her are Adidas, Dove and Coca-Cola.

To register for the next online discussion on May 13, click here >>>

Watch the full recording from last week’s webinar below:

Sunday Times GenNext, now in its 17th year, is the leading annual brand preference and consumer behaviour research on the youth. The GenNext youth survey provides meaningful insights into the minds of SA youth. From this year, all youth capabilities, including the highly anticipated 2021 Sunday Times GenNext youth survey, will be enhanced by the strategic might of Yellowwood. 

For more information on sponsorship opportunities, please contact Cortney Hoyland on 082-442-0624 or hoylandc@arena.africa.