Research Illustrates Youth Trends In South Africa

Research Illustrates Youth Trends In South Africa

According to Refilwe Maluleke, Managing Director at Yellowwood, research shows trust is key to accessing the contemporary youth market.

The Gen Next 2021 research has revealed one consistent reality: the youth of South Africa are living in a context of what feels like unprecedented chaos. Over the last three years they have had to contend with the reality that the very institutions and individuals that they should be able to rely on have been revealed to be deeply untrustworthy.

Whether it’s the findings of the Zondo commission and the sheer scale of state capture, the significant escalation in the awareness of Gender Based Violence which is frequently perpetrated by those who should love and protect them, or the numerous private sector scandals that have gripped the nation.

As if that wasn’t enough, the pandemic hit to exacerbate many of the challenges they were dealing with, such as the uncertainty created by living in constantly changing states of lockdown and the fear created by the reality of Covid-19 and its devastating impact on families both in terms of illness, loss of life and loss of livelihoods.

All of this has created a youth plagued by anxiety, so it is no wonder that the responses to infractions big and small is visceral and increasingly hostile – a world where thoughts and ideas quickly turn to deeply held beliefs for which people are willing to commit acts of violence and ostracise loved ones.

One of the most significant drawbacks of this ‘new normal’ is that it significantly limits exploration of their world and themselves, and the spontaneity that should characterise youth is no longer an option as you can no longer trust that things will work out. Many of the experiences considered to be a rite of passage such as sports tournaments, school plays, matric dances, graduation, your first job, your first car and moving out of your parents’ home have been denied to our young people.

The 2021 Edelman trust barometer shows us that trust is at an all-time low, and yet brand trust matters more than brand love when deciding which brands to buy or use. The findings from the behavioural section of the 2021 Gen Next research highlight three levers that brands can use to (re)build trust with young people, and ultimately drive consideration and preference.

1. Accessibility defined as:
• Are you affordable?
• Are you available?
• Do you show up in my world?

2. Community defined as: How are you serving my community? This could include, family, friends, neighbours, interests, colleagues, charities they support or clubs they belong to.

3. Authenticity defined as:
• Do you have a brand promise that is relevant, credible, and distinct? In the current context of chaos, true relevance comes from defining a brand promise that serves young people in some way, some examples include:
– Helping them better understand the world.
– Helping them navigate the chaos.
– Helping them find respite (peace or enjoyment).
– Helping them progress or demonstrate how far they have come.
– Helping them safely explore their world and themselves with minimal physical, social, professional, reputational, or financial risk.
• Do you consistently deliver against this promise across every part of your business by using it as a key decision-making filter in your business? This includes advertising, retail, products and services, CSI, customer service, sponsorships and influencers.
• Do you demonstrate vulnerability by acknowledging when you get it wrong and take appropriate measures to get back on track?

‘Congratulations to all the nominees and winners from this year’s coolest brands awards. It is my hope that this research helps more brands find ways to better connect with young people and ultimately create sustainable demand-led growth,’ said Maluleke. For more information about the full report, click here.