The Shuffle: Youth, Brands And PoliticsIn Trends
Afrillennials are a big role player in driving change and they are influencing other generations to be more active in changing their world. They are also an essential and growing market for brands who are now feeling unsure about the role they should be playing to stay on the youth’s welcome mat. From pressures of running brands in a country rife with political protest action, to adapting their offerings to suit multiple youth generations in consumer-dome, the confusion of how to appeal to Afrillennials in particular, is mounting. Let’s look at how your brand can best position itself to appeal to the youth in this turbulent space.
- 1. Stabilise & Mobilise
Students have set off a whirl of protests after their fees debacle and now we see the country in upheaval. The same generation that was being labelled desktop activists, are now driving physical action and movement for change. The reason for this is that Afrillennials feel accountable for many issues and will take every opportunity to contribute to a good cause, especially if the risk is mitigated by a company driving it. Being part of a collective allows them to both avoid risks and take risks which speaks of their anxiety levels and fear of failure.
Brands have a unique opportunity to make a difference by providing a stable escape from the dramas students face and enabling them to follow their passions. According to Deloitte, Millennials in emerging markets generally expect to be both financially (71 percent) and emotionally (62 percent) better off than their parents, which contrasts with other generations who are much less confident. With a knack for entrepreneurism and aspirations to be and do more, brands should work toward being ready to help students get to the next level.
- 2. Remember: Everybody’s Shuffling
Like the cabinet reshuffle seeing Pravin Gordhan to the door, brands simply have to readjust their sails and continue to adapt. Treading lightly around politics, or any area you do not at least dabble in as a brand, is always advised. With over 268,000 social media articles over 7 days about the #ZumaMustFall debacle alone, it’s safe to say this is too sensitive a topic to be involved in.
Getting students’ attention is not about joining their conversations but rather giving them something worth talking about. While we’ve been taught that the youth live in the now and want instant gratification in terms of their spending, brands have more than products to go on with SA’s youth. For example, what is your business doing in terms of giving back or even contributing to social initiatives? Students expect brands to feel what they feel, understand their challenges and rise to the occasion. In order for brands to keep their footing, they should be focussing on how they can shift things around to improve the lives of young people for the sake of their future.
- 3. Get Out Of The Pressure Cooker
With the clear political divisions or clusters, we know you’re also wondering which side to choose and luckily for you, the answer is – none. Students are proud of who they are, even with their imperfections, and brands are treated the same.
Economic pressure is impacting consumer loyalty, yes, but this doesn’t mean that brands need to take a back seat or take the punch. In fact, this is a time to put your brand’s best foot forward as it is still important for them to show that they are genuine about their relationship with the youth. Afrillennials are using this time of pressure to identify which brands they can trust and are also revalidating their authenticity.
Research from Ask Africa Icon Brands shows that students will support businesses that are local or locally relevant even if the price point is a bit higher. There’s a clear movement from aspiration to inspiration and students aren’t looking to see what side your brand is on, but rather how you can help them be great in their own make up or at least be relevant to them. Do you inspire them by sharing your success? Do you ease the pressure by providing clarity? Does your income reflect a positive outcome in their world?
- 4. Think “Band Aid”
Sowetan published a report stating, “Money is the most common source of personal anxiety for young people – with half (51%) naming money-related issues as one of their top sources of anxiety.” With South Africa’s recent junk status lingering in the background, students may be more conscious of how much they are spending. The Student Spend Report shows that spending amongst students is on the rise each year by almost double the rate of inflation, but this could be circumstantial to the current economic climate.
Prices on just about everything has increased and for this reason marketing in the youth space can be testing with the high expectation of reward for participation. A great reward for participation is a solution or a band aid, if you will. Travel, data, freebies might be coming to mind but there are also bursaries, mentorship and other opportunities the youth really want your brand to think about.
It’s Not All Politics
South Africa might be faced with another year of disruptive political occurrences, but life has to continue as the youth know it, with improvement. They’re an emerging market with a desire to experience luxury and your brand has it in hand.
Appealing to them with our offering is about to get seemingly harder, unless you’re playing in the right spaces and putting on the right game faces. The easy part is that Student Village is always ready to make things happen, so contact us on or email .