The growing trend of youth-centric marketing has gained increased attention in recent years, not only in Africa, but worldwide, as companies have taken notice of their great purchasing powering and influence on the marketplace. South Africa, in particular, has a prime youth market representing the majority of the population with nearly 53% between the ages of zero and 24 years of age.
Due to this fact, many successful brands seeking to grow business within South Africa have learned to incorporate more non-traditional avenues into their marketing techniques in efforts to reach this growing audience across multiple social platforms. A nation known for its thriving use of mobile technology, mobile marketing is a trend that appears to have become synonymous with youth marketing for its ability to reach wide-spread audiences more accessibly than perhaps other digital platforms would.
At first, some marketers may be somewhat weary of the youth market due to the complexities of children and youth themselves. Their apprehension, I believe, is mostly due to lack of understanding on how best to reach this somewhat complex and often unpredictable audience. As many who have worked with this demographic directly before will tell you, the youth market is highly vocal and outspoken about their likes—and more importantly their dislikes. However, as younger generations of consumers evolve, marketers need to learn new and innovative ways in which to best communicate with them in order to help their businesses grow.
South Africa’s Internet penetration can be broken down into three categories of sub-users: 3 million have full web access, 11 million have access through applications such as Mxit or email and another 13 million only have connectivity through WAP (Wireless Application Protocol). Mobile penetration, on the other hand, is more universally widespread and in 2012 youth mobile ownership will reach nearly 30 million users. Businesses seeking to capitalize on this trend should engage technically savvy youth audiences by communicating their brands, products or services using mobile technologies.
More importantly, in order to assure that youth marketing efforts are successful and effective, I suggest they incorporate the following best practices:
- Dialogue & Exchange: Provide opportunities for the youth consumer to share their thoughts and opinions. In creating a platform for comments, suggestions and feedback you, in way, create and two-way conversation with audiences. Using crowd-sourcing techniques for advice on topics such as campaign themes or ideas is a great ways in which to illicit comments from users and build upon an exchange of ideas.
- Create a Sense of Community: Youth are constantly seeking to purchase the most “in” or popular brands or products of the time. One way in which they can monitor these trends is to create a BBM (Blackberry Messenger) Group of your supporters. Similar to other social media platforms, this allows users to keep appraised of upcoming events and product updates, but also allows for users to feel a sense of community from their mobile device. Once the “community” has been established, you can identify key influencers to help build awareness across other platforms as well by asking them to reach out to their own extended networks. Efforts can be given incentive with rebates, discounts or free product samples. In most cases, a community already exists around a brand, it is just a matter of reaching out to them and giving them the tools to bring in new audiences.
- Highlighting Context over Content: Something people don’t by things for the actual product itself, they buy what the stuff does for them. For example, a man may purchase motorcycle—not because he needs it—but because the purchase and product may give him a sense of freedom, or sense of adventure. Perhaps, the purchase may provide an opportunity to dress up in leather jacket and terrorize the neighbors.
This same rationale holds true when marketing your brand to youth. They may not need the most expensive new phone on the market (that comes equipped with features such as the ability to work on office financials remotely, for example) yet they crave these new technologies as a way to connect, stay engage and remaining relevant amongst their peers. In this right, the social packaging holds more weight than the product itself. Understanding this trend, it is vital for businesses to better “package their product” or tailor communication and messages in a way that address what their purchase will do for them.