Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

The attention spans of the youth are getting shorter and shorter when it comes to consuming content over the Internet – making it even harder for brands to access the already challenging millennial market.

There are five key trends that will be prevalent in this market for 2018, says HDI Youth Marketeers CEO Bongani Chinkanda. These trends are based on insights gleaned from social media, HDI’s research and the market itself.

The first trend, he explains, is that despite the negative perception that the youth market are not interested in the world around them, or what is happening within their communities, a new generation of social activists has proved this to be false. It’s a trend of “#StayingWoke” and very often takes place via social media channels.

A second trend speaks to the fact that “One size does not fit all’. “We like to try to categorise the youth market but, unfortunately, they are not a homogeneous bunch,” says Chinkanda.

Considering the demographics in SA alone, there are township youths, as well as those who live in urban and rural areas, each with their own interests, likes and dislikes. It is imperative for brands to define their target markets and tailor their messaging for each market, instead of trying to reach the youth as a whole, he says.

The big take-out:

This year there will be new ways in which brands should be connecting with youth markets; personalised, contextual content is key, Africa is rising and females are taking back their power, says HDI CEO Bongani Chinkanda.

Content customisation is the third trend. The youth have various interactions throughout the day – from breakfast with their families, to school or university, movies later with friends – content generated cannot be generic but rather should be fitted to the context and interaction. Chinkanda points out that personalised video messages via WhatsApp and the rise of platforms such as Snapchat show the importance of content customisation.

African youth are looking to find relevance in their own culture. While they continue to follow global trends to some degree, Chinkanda says that the fourth trend, #AfricaYourTimeIsNow, shows how much this market is seeking its own African identity. “We are reaching a point where Africa will start to export to the rest of the world and not vice versa as has happened in the past. The youth want Africa to succeed and are supporting African products and music – one need only look at the popularity of African fashion and musicians such as Cassper Nyovest and Davido to see this trend in action,” he says.

The launch of the new Marvel superhero, Black Panther, is another case in point – it’s never been done before and shows that the world is starting to recognise that Africa is a force to be reckoned with, he adds.

Finally, the fifth trend, “The Future Is Female” highlights the rise of the female market globally as female activism increasingly gains traction. “For the first time, Formula One will no longer be using ‘pit girls’ at the races, simply because they no longer resonate with the way in which the world is progressing,” Chinkanda says. Young females are making their mark.