Today’s youth have a voice and are not scared to use it.

The problem is we’re not listening.

We should be. The global youth market is the largest the world has ever seen and Africa is home to most of the world’s young people. Almost half of Africa’s population is under the age of 24 and with direct youth spend at R121.5 bn per annum in South Africa alone; this is a market worth getting to know.

Youth lost in translation

According to a recent report, A Youth Lost in Translation, today’s youth are true digital natives, growing up in a world where cellphones and Internet access are a part of everyday life.

Their experience is touched by their uncertainties of the economic and social environment, and driven by unprecedented access to information.

Confusing baby-boomer marketers

They are vocal, diverse and connected.

Confusingly for Baby Boomer-generation marketers, their opinions and tastes are ephemeral. Encouragingly, however, this generation also appreciates being heard.

Engage, don’t dictate

Having delved deep into the views of youth, the report has unravelled some findings on youth useful to marketers:

  • Africa’s youth want to feel respected. Marketers need to avoid assuming a position of authority over them. Respect and trust is earned among this segment regardless of a brand’s perceived credentials. Engage, don’t dictate.
  • The evolution of ‘pester power’. Africa’s youth is key to accessing the family wallet. It’s critical to listen to them, interact with them and garner their support if you’re targeting their parents’ funds. Many are still living at home and influencing family spending decisions. Appreciate don’t underestimate.
  • Meet them where they’re at. Our youth live in a digital world, and marketers need to reach them in a non-intrusive yet relevant way. Be in their world, not yours.
  • Earn their respect by being a responsible brand. The youth respect brands that give back to the community and do good. Focus on gaining their respect and it will help build a long-standing bond. Give to get.
  • Learn to listen better before engaging. Keeping up with the youth requires consistent effort. They are an incredibly dynamic generation embracing change, so marketers need to keep engaging them in conversation to avoid falling behind. Listen and respond.
  • Don’t nag or preach. The youth want a conversation, not to be talked at. They want to know that their opinions are being heard and considered. Be the confidant, not the teacher.
  • Be authentic. The youth are quick to notice insincerity and forced messaging from marketers. Don’t try too hard to be cool or assume you know what they want to see or hear. Instead, do your homework. You’ll gain their respect and potentially some of their spend. Be you, be true.

This is a savvy, influential generation, with sheer numbers, decision-making power and tech know-how.

David Blyth | CEO | Yellowwood | | |