media update’s Aisling McCarthy was at the Sandton Convention centre on 11 May to hear what the experts had to say.

Sunday Times Generation Next Study

In its 13th year, the study – facilitated by HDI Youth Marketeers – polled over 12 000 people between the ages of 18 and 23 on what they thought was cool, inspirational, and aspirational. Bongani Siqoko, Sunday Times Editor, said that the study helps brands achieve long-term rewards.

Catherine Bothma, MD of HDI, gave an overview of what the study uncovered about Gen Z and how to utilise that when marketing. She highlighted a few of HDI’s ‘10 commandments of youth marketing’, noting that the younger markets particularly value honesty, affordability, and good freebies.

“We’ve never included honesty and transparency in our research before, but it rated as the second most important factor when choosing a brand. Honesty is very important to the youth.”

Digital and social media – experiences and disruptions

eNCA news anchor Yashini Padayachee hosted a panel discussion around the topics of digital and social media.

The youth, in particular, use social media as a means of expressing complaints or compliments about a brand, with YouTube content creator Sibu Mpanza stating that since the fall of Hello Peter, Twitter is the best platform for engaging with brands.

“If you are unhappy about something, you can tweet the company and, with enough retweets, they have no choice but to respond.”

With attention spans shrinking online, video content is the way things are going. Ornico’s senior social media analyst, Mbuluma Silumbwe, said that video allows users to give themselves a voice online.

“You can pick up a camera and post your video online. Technically, you could be on TV with just your phone – no degree necessary. As long as you have a story to tell, someone will watch it.”

Mpanza continued, saying that often when brands approach influencers they try to force them to sell their products in a specific way that is not authentic to the influencer, which can be disastrous and viewed as “pulling a Pepsi.”

‘Getting back to the basics of marketing’ was also highlighted, and can be achieved through engaging people, using emotion, and creating a connection – literally and figuratively.

#Kellman20 millennials on influencer marketing

Social influencer Arye Kellman, who was joined by three members of his list of 20 influential millennials to watch in 2017 (#Kellman20), discussed influencer marketing and how to make it as successful as possible for both brands and influencers.

The importance of authenticity was highlighted, and if sponsored posts are not viewed as authentic, they will not be received well by the influencer’s audience.

TV personality Katlego Mohoaduba said that it is all about staying true to yourself, as an influencer.

“This generation cannot be fooled. They know if someone is being paid to advertise something, so a brand and influencer need to fit together seamlessly – it must be honest.”

Isibaya actress Jessica Nkosi spotlighted the fact that, although traditional forms of advertising still work, influencer marketing is almost more relevant in today’s world.

“It comes down to this: are we watching TV or are we on our phones more? I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m on my phone all the time.”

When it comes to pairing a brand with an influencer, comedian Simmi Areff said that the brand and individual need to match.

“The plans have to be in line with you and your style. I was approached by a drinks brand, Coo-ee, but I can’t advertise for you if I’ve never heard of you before. No one would believe it.”

Responsibility of marketing to youth

Thanks to technology, marketers are able to bypass children’s traditional gatekeepers – parents. According to author Nikki Bush, brands targeting the youth need to ensure they are being ethical when engaging with such a vulnerable audience.

“Kids are born with a device in one hand and their parents’ wallets in the other. So targeting kids is very effective – the influence of children on their parents should not be underestimated.”

She continued, saying that “marketing is like modern warfare”, where children are given ammunition towards something negative, such as underage drinking, sleep deprivation, or obesity.

Bush suggested that brands should start “out-caring” one another and gaining trust with children and their parents. She noted the success of the McCain’s ‘Mom’s Surprise’ campaign and how, although the campaign was aimed at children, it did not abuse the trusting nature of the youth.

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