The Sunday Times Generation Next conference. Picture: SUPPLIED
The Sunday Times Generation Next conference. Picture: SUPPLIED

Trends in technology drive the way in which business is done, enabling marketers to connect with their youth audiences in new ways all the time. Yet when it comes to determining which technology to use to create the best engagement, brands must first define what their objectives are.

This was the insight of Refilwe Maluleke, MD at Yellowwood, who took part in a panel discussion on this topic at the recent Sunday Times Generation Next Conference, along with moderator Craig Wilson, editor of Stuff Magazine, and panellists including Ian Russell, Chief Disruptor at BCX and Vinolan Pillay, Digital Fast Lane Executive at Nedbank.

“You cannot be on all social media platforms,” Maluleke said. “Rather, marketers should think about the need they have, how to address it and then choose a platform that will fulfil that purpose.”

Bespoke platforms need to be used to address different segments of the market, said Pillay. “For example, in the youth market alone you have students, people about to enter the workplace and unemployed youth who cannot afford technology – the list goes on. As such, in order to ensure relevance and value in your particular segment, you must tailor make messages for platforms, test them in the market and learn from experience,” he said.

The big take-out

A plethora of digital technology in the market doesn’t mean brands should be using all of them – it’s about authentic messaging that solves a need and reaches the audience you want by being authentic and adding value.

Audiences are no longer defined by age or demographics, pointed out Maluleke. “Whether I am 21 or 40, I still have needs and wants and those define who I am,” she said. “It comes back to purpose. Ultimately, the message is still more important than the medium, but even more crucial is adding value or solving a need or problem more efficiently or intuitively than anyone else.”

Living in a digital world we are surrounded by an analogue moat, where we fulfil the need to leave screens behind and touch ‘real’ things, said Russell. He believes that going forward, more and more people will try to access this moat – be it a game of tennis or a walk in the park. In the future, marketers will need to understand where these ‘moats’ are, in order to reach their consumers.

The panel agreed that authenticity remains key – the youth are naturally suspicious and can sift out ‘bullshit’. In future, it will be the brands that consistently deliver on their promises that succeed, rather than those who create sexy advertising.

Wilson concluded by saying “we need to be open to what are children are doing. Staying interested is the best chance we have of staying interesting.”

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