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How to flourish in a world of ever-changing fashion and beauty trends

Sunday Times GenNext dialogue analyses how SA youth is drawn to socially conscious brands with honest visual marketing

07 April 2022 - 08:00
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Arena Holdings group fashion editor Sahil Harilal says gender fluidity is the most important lifestyle trend to affect modern youth, with luxury brands increasingly willing to offer non-binary products.
Arena Holdings group fashion editor Sahil Harilal says gender fluidity is the most important lifestyle trend to affect modern youth, with luxury brands increasingly willing to offer non-binary products.
Image: Pexels/Mart Production

Fashion, beauty and shopping trends have completely changed how the youth connect to a brand, how they shop and what inspires their loyalty.

Research has shown that though most of SA’s youth are digitally inclined, they want real-life connections. The question is: “How do brands balance their digital marketing with meaningful experiences that make a lasting impact and connect with young people?” 

A recent Sunday Times GenNext online discussion, in partnership with Yellowwood, focused on some of the latest marketing trends affecting young people and the brands they love. 

The discussion also examined the standards that influence trends and marketing strategies that allow brands to survive and thrive in what is becoming an increasingly tumultuous sea of e-commerce and digital opportunities. 

Musabbiha Jagot, a member of the Junior Board of Directors (youth panels that provide meaningful insight into youth culture) and an account manager at APO Group, explained that SA’s youth has moved past focusing on cheap and trendy products, and are instead looking at how socially conscious a brand is — whether it gives back to society and the environment, and how it makes them feel. 

She said the experiences of others are also relevant and that marketers value the opinions of influencers, who often understand the brand’s customers best.

The youth want to see honesty in visual marketing: all sizes, all races and including imperfections, said Jagot. 

Angel Ndlela, an influencer, content creator and artist, said marketers have realised that social media is the quickest way to get their brands noticed and that influencers can be the best way of doing it, when it comes to reliability.

While fashion and beauty trends are continuously changing, Arena Holdings group fashion editor Sahil Harilal said gender fluidity is the most important lifestyle trend to affect modern youth, with luxury brands increasingly willing to offer nonbinary products. 

In a digital world, transparency has become vital and the ethos of the brand has become as important as the brand itself. In the tech world, young consumers are looking for brands that give more, such as fabric that can change temperature, while minimising their impact on the environment.

Precilla Kalogeropoulos, head of creative and productions at Avon SA, said it was not e-commerce that worked to draw the youth in, but rather being part of an ecosystem. Marketing should be targeted to individual consumers, with the message that they want to hear, she said. 

Young consumers are products of the virtual world, said Harilal, adding they are trailblazers and rule-breakers and want their clothing brands to reflect these facts. Kalogeropoulos said a brand had to resonate with and be relevant to the young, as well as being available online.

Asked how marketers could better connect to young people, Jagot said they should listen to the youth and speak with them, not for them. Ndlela considered relatability and relevance to be important, as well as using the right influencer for the correct audience. Kalogeropoulos stressed micro-influencers for more authenticity.

Looking to the future, Kalogeropoulos predicted the Metaverse would become more relevant, and brands would have to adapt. Jagot agreed, saying that all content was now online and that authenticity and transparency with value would inspire loyalty. 

Jagot summed it up, saying, “Listen to us. Invest in us. Understand us.”

To watch to the full recording from the Sunday Times GenNext event, click here.

The next online event, “What quality millennial talent can do for your brand”, will take place on Tuesday May 17 2022 at 9am.

For more information, or to register, click here

• For partnership opportunities please contact Cortney Hoyland on hoylandc@arena.africa. To advertise in the 2022 GenNext supplement please contact Debbie Montanari on montanarid@arena.africa.

•For more on the youth behaviour study, contact Kananelo Tlanya on kananelo.tlanya@ywood.co.za.


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