Understanding the youth to build strategies for growth
For brands to resonate with young people, they must be accessible, authentic and serve communities
Want to know who the biggest influencers are in a household? Look for its youngest members. Long before they start earning their keep, children already have their hands firmly on the purse strings: they influence household consumption, especially food, clothing and entertainment purchases; where families live in relation to schools and other educational institutions; what vehicles they drive; and know what the “cool” brands are.
These are the customers not only of the future but also of the present. The youth market has considerable purchasing power, estimated at more than R120bn, due to their influence and own spending power, as revealed by the latest GenNext Youth Behaviour Report.
The GenNext report, compiled by strategy consultancy Yellowwood, comprises a brand preference report, which contains the results of the coolest brands polled by young people, and a youth behaviour report, which outlines category and behavioural drivers among the youth.
The results of the Sunday Times GenNext survey were announced on September 9 2021 and Coca-Cola was once again the coolest cold drink and the coolest cold beverage.
Coca-Cola believe the secret to remaining popular with young people is in understanding their customers
Michelle Cloete, front-line marketing director at Coca-Cola SA, says the company believes the secret to remaining popular with young people is in understanding its customers — even though they are the “three-second generation” who scroll through their feeds, lives and dreams. As a mass brand, Coca-Cola appeals to people of all ages, but Gen Z represents the future.
“They still do aspire to be optimistic and, more than ever, they are in need of an uplift. Coca-Cola has been a loved brand icon for 135 years, with the same set of values, but the trick is understanding your consumers and understanding how they interpret those values in their lives, and for us to reflect that,” she says.
Being a friend to the consumer works for the brand, Cloete says, as many brands are losing relevance today because they use the wrong tone with their customers, speaking to them as an “advertiser” rather than a familiar.
“Today’s youth are only looking to see the authentic side of the brands they love in order to engage with them. Being where they are, understanding the context as they see it, while staying true to our values and humbleness, are the three main things we consider fundamentals of engagement.”
This finding on authenticity aligns with the GenNext youth behaviour report, which highlights three levers that brands can use to (re)build trust with young people, and ultimately drive consideration and preference.
These levers are accessibility, community and authenticity.
Accessibility is defined as:
- Are you affordable?
- Not just in price but in the overall value you provide.
- Are you available?
- Do you show up in places I frequent?
- Do you show up in my world?
- Do friends and associates also have relationships with you?
Community is defined as:
- How are you serving my community?
- This could include family, friends, neighbours, interests, colleagues, charities I support or clubs to which I belong.
Authenticity is defined as:
- Do you have a brand promise that is relevant, credible, and distinct?
- How do we help young people express themselves, safely explore their world and find peace and enjoyment?
- 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?
- Being human makes your brand easier to identify with.
Yellowwood can help you build a strategy that resonates with the youth and leads to sustainable business growth. For details or to purchase the report, go to www.ywood.co.za.
This article was paid for by Yellowwood.
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