Half an hour with Bongani Chinkanda
Bongani Chinkanda, newly appointed CEO at HDI Youth Marketeers has some very clear objectives in mind as he takes the helm of the agency. First off, his plan is to integrate the business more fully into TBWA, solidifying that agency’s youth offering in South Africa and on the continent.
“TBWA bought HDI in 2013 and one of our primary mandates from them has been to assimilate HDI under the TBWA umbrella, as the lead youth specialist in South Africa,” says Chinkanda.
The big take-out: HDI’s newly appointed CEO, Bongani Chinkanda talks strategy, objectives and trends, pointing out that micro-influencers are the way to go when engaging with the youth.
Another important objective, Chinkanda outlines, is to transform HDI so that HDI is central to the process of solving clients’ business problems – more of a consultancy than an agency, if you like. “We want to take a lead position when it comes to working with our clients, so that we’re able to create workable business solutions from that start of the process, and not the backend.”
Chinkanda’s third objective as CEO is to future proof HDI. “One of the fundamental aspects of this is the creation of campaigns that are mobile and data led,” he reveals, adding that in the two years he plans to ensure that 40 – 50% of HDI’s revenue is derived from data led solutions. These plans include the launch of an app that will track youth behaviour in terms of integrating youth and brands – bringing brands to the youth and vice versa. Chinkanda comments that this strategic direction is well aligned with TBWA’s core strategy of ‘disruption’ – which is literally about disrupting the norm.
Engaging with Africa’s youth market is a big deal for brands these days. Chinkanda explains that HDI profiles this market into three categories: kids eight to 13, tweens 14 – 18 and young adults of 18 and over. It’s a prolific market, making up 50% of South Africa’s population, 63% of Nigeria’s, 62% in Kenya and 70% in Uganda.
The African continent differs from more established markets such as Japan and Russia, which are dominated by ageing populations. Africa is a youth driven market. Indeed, to the Sunday Times Generation Next 2017 Survey, in South Africa, this market has an average total annual spend of R137 billion per year. What’s more, it influences 66% of the decisions made in the home. “HDI’s role is pivotal in terms of taking brands to market and acting as a medium between youth and brand,” Chinkanda informs.
That said, it’s not an easy market to engage with, with a host of brands simply getting it wrong on so many levels. “HDI has created the 10 commandments of youth marketing – a guide as to what the important factors are when it comes to creating these important connections. One of the key commandments is thy shall not invade my personal space, which is closely linked to another: thy shall be within my reach. It’s a tough balance to get right, says Chinkanda.
He adds that the use of influencers, a popular way of interacting with the youth market, should be done with care. “This market is not oblivious to the fact that brands use influencers and they don’t have a problem with this – provided that the influencers they use are both reachable and relatable.
The use of micro influencers, he explains, is a growing trend which entails identifying influential people on university campuses – people who have a following on social media of 3000 or more, who reside within the communities where products are consumed.
It’s an attractive and cost effective option for brands – the students are very happy to be associated with brands and the brands themselves have more influence over the narrative. “There’s no tension between a brand which has its own agenda and a well-known personality who also has his own brand to protect. As a result, micro influencers work well in terms of brand engagement and the brand message won’t get lost, they’re also extremely relatable and accessible for youth consumers,” he concludes.