WATCH | How brands can win the hearts and minds of young South Africans
Join the Sunday Times GenNext online webinar series in partnership with Yellowwood and Gautrain on April 15 at 9am
Young people are not only online more than ever because of the Covid-19 lockdown; they’re more switched on. The internet and accessibility to news (real and fake) from across the world make them one of the most aware, yet also one of the most fickle, generations ever: there is always something new to steal their focus.
So how do advertisers grab the attention of youth, and keep them engaged long enough to justify the ad spend involved in attracting a young consumer audience?
Don’t try too hard
Authenticity is a word we hear ad nauseam, yet there’s something to be said for brands that don’t try to be something they’re not. There are some products that are “serious”, and no amount of colloquialism is going to make them appear hip and cool.
Today’s youth (though hip and cool in their own minds) don’t expect brands and products to be frivolous. Brands that are able to make themselves relevant to a younger generation without coming across as “mutton dressed as lamb” — and those that want to position themselves as timeless and aspirational — will earn greater respect. Authentic brands know who they are, are proud of what they deliver, are clear about their points of difference, and relate to the youth by supporting similar values.
Find common ground
For want of a better word, today’s “kids” are “woke”. They’re aware of prejudice, racism, sexism and gender-bias, ageism, homophobia, transphobia, multiculturalism, pollution, environmental sustainability, poverty, war, famine and crimes against humanity. These are topics that brands have often sought to steer away from for the sake of neutrality and a desire to not offend.
However, supporting causes and looking to create a better future for all earthly inhabitants, is something millennials and Gen Z’s value greatly. For them, it’s not just about the bottom line: it’s about corporate citizenship and doing the right thing. Brands need to define a purpose that goes beyond raking in cash for shareholders; they need to find and promote a purpose that also delivers a positive social or environmental impact.
Being connected through cellphones and other mobile devices means that news travels at the speed of light. When something happens in the world, it takes only minutes (if not seconds) for it to appear online and spread through social media. For advertisers, this means that being part of a #hashtag movement online, they need to think fast and action a response without delay.
There is seldom time for hours-long strategic discussions and planning, only to deliver something a few days later. In this digital era, the faster brands can turn something creative around, the more impetus they’ll have online, and the more relevant and connected they’ll appear.
To find out more about what drives youth preference, join the Sunday Times GenNext online webinar series in partnership with Yellowwood and Gautrain to learn from some of the 2020 GenNext Award-winning brands about how they’ve won hearts and minds of young South Africans.
Now in its 17th year, Sunday Times GenNext celebrates SA youth and the brands that have found footholds in their lives.
Topic: How brands can win the hearts and minds of young South Africans
- Refilwe Maluleke, MD, Yellowwood
- Zukiswa Modisakeng, senior manager: brand, communication & consumer segment marketing, Telkom
- Doug Place, chief marketing officer: Africa, Middle East, South Asia, Nando’s
- Thabisa Mkhwanazi, marketing director, DStv
- Yatish Narsi, chief experience officer, Grid Worldwide
Date: Thursday, April 15
Time: 9am — 10am