Picture: Pexels/Sidnei Maia
Picture: Pexels/Sidnei Maia

Given the vast youth population in SA, brands and marketers need to be increasingly focused on the youth market if they plan to remain on top of this group’s shopping and spending priorities in the years to come, particularly given their sizable spending power.

A recent Sunday Times GenNext online event, in partnership with Proudly South African and Yellowwood and moderated by Yellowwood strategy director Ntombizamasala Hlophe, put the spotlight on the strategies local brands are using to market their products, including how they are creating campaigns that highlight the value and desirability of their brands to resonate with the youth.

Local brands are increasingly seeing the value of telling authentically SA stories, in the process embracing our culture and heritage, said Siyabonga Zungu, brand manager at Proudly South African. At the same time they are moving away from the misconception that international and imported is better. However, to resonate with local consumers, it is important that local brands have consistent messaging and positioning aligned to their purpose, he said.

Pointing out that there are many great SA products and brands that can hold their own on an international stage, he said local brands should not wait for international affirmations, but instead see themselves as worthy in their own right. At the same time there is a need for more consumer education around the benefits of buying local, given that these are the brands and businesses creating employment opportunities and supporting the local economy.

To resonate with the youth market requires that local brands are cognisant of the youth’s circumstances and realities, said Skye O’Leary, a young professional and a member of Yellowwood’s junior board of directors. Brands that are not in touch with those realities won’t resonate with the youth, she said.

Theo Baloyi, founder of Proudly South African brand Bathu Shoes, said his brand was very intentional and purposeful in its approach to marketing. The brand tells authentic stories of hope and inspiration that its consumers can relate to. “We try to be very consistent in our messaging,” he said.

What consumers want – irrespective of their demographic – is a brand that feels different and that makes a difference to communities, said Mike Sharman, the founder of Retroviral Digital. Too many brands are lazy, he said, and climb onto whatever idea is trendy or whatever influencer is popular. However, for consumers to buy into a brand’s narrative, its messaging needs to be authentic. He added that too many brands talk at consumers and forget to engage with them in a way that is collaborative and supportive.

The last word went to Zungu, who said South Africans need to create a common goal that recognises local excellence, and then work together to achieve that goal. “We’re all responsible for the future,” he concluded.

To watch this online discussion, click here

Sunday Times GenNext, now in its 17th year, is the leading annual brand preference and consumer behaviour research on the youth. The GenNext survey provides meaningful insights into the minds of SA youth. From this year, all youth capabilities, including the highly anticipated annual 2021 Sunday Times GenNext youth survey, will be enhanced by the strategic might of Yellowwood.

What it means:

Supporting local brands is about supporting our economy and creating employment.

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