Johannesburg, 22 June 2016:   The second Sunday Times Generation Next Youth Marketing Conference again delivered valuable insights into the aspirations of South African youths, and the marketing influences impacting the near, and long-term brand preferences of Generation Z.  The conference was followed by an Interactive Showcase with SA brands delivering exciting, innovative and engaging activations to grab the attention of youths and adults alike.

The annual Awards ceremony acknowledging the Coolest Brands as determined by SA youths aged 8-22 years was followed by the first Generation Next Youth Party with performances from the country’s leading DJ’s, as well as a headline performance from AKA who claimed the accolade as “Coolest Local Music Star”.

The common theme running through the presentations and discussions at the annual Sunday Times Generation Next conference was that marketers and advertisers need to learn to speak the language of Generation Z in order to win their buy-in.

A summary of the findings from the Generation Next study was presented by Jason Levin, MD at HDI Youth Marketeers. It’s no surprise that this is an important group – Africa’s population is the youngest in the world and in South Africa, 50% of the population is 25 and younger. Moreover, they spend big money – a reported R134bn in 2016.

It’s an era of opportunity and learning, said Missing Link’s Don Packett; if marketers want to crack this market they need to make their messages relevant and personal. Most important is to listen to what the youth are saying.

Creative advertising was the subject of the first panel discussion, hosted by Jeremy Maggs. The panellists shared their views on a selection of print and television adverts. In short, ads that succeed with this market promise you something – and deliver. Good narrative has become imperative to attain the new Holy Grail – staying with the advert until the end.

Uno de Waal, publisher at Between 10 and 5, discussed how to harness the power of digital. He compared viewing numbers of some of the country’s biggest television programmes to the reach that can be achieved via social media platforms. YouTube has negated the need for media deals and provides amazing opportunities for young content creators. Brands no longer have control of the audience and content must be memorable if it’s going to be shared.

“You’ll look a lot more like Generation Z than they will look like you,” CliffCentral’s Arye Kellman told the audience. He means that as digital natives, it’s likely that Generation Z have more to teach us about the digital environment than we can impart to them.

A panel discussion on trends and insights agreed that the youth market has always been hard to understand, but now it’s even harder to connect with them. In order to achieve breakthrough communication with this market, marketers and advertisers need to ensure they’ve got Generation Zers working on the team. A word of advice from the panel: “Don’t build a digital strategy, operate in a digital universe.”

SAB’s Bongumusa Makhathini spoke about the You Decide programme, an initiative by SAB Reality Check, NDYA, ARA and SADAG, which aims to curb underage drinking. We live in a world where the youth may desire a better future, but their reality all too often means they’re unlikely to get it.

That said, as the #feesmustfall phenomenon revealed, despite the challenges facing the youth of South Africa, they are not apathetic about their lives. The power of today’s youth was discussed with a focus on how brands can help them to make responsible decisions and navigate risks. Pride and patriotism are important values to nurture. While much has been done to support the youth in making responsible decisions and negating risky behaviour, this task cannot fall to just one group.

Pepsi Pokane, MD of Bonngoe Productions, hosted a hilarious panel discussion consisting of three mothers and their children discussing the potentially dangerous waters in a “parents versus the youth” standoff.

The conference drew to a close with a final perspective given by actress Pearl Thusi on your personal brand.

The big take-out: The common theme at the Sunday Times Generation Next Conference was the importance of talking and listening to the youth as well as working with them, to get them to endorse your brand.

“We’ve had a great event in 2016 – from the growth of the Youth Marketing Conference and the Interactive Showcase…through to the first youth party celebration after the Awards.  We are incredibly fortunate to have developed the relationships with partners who have made the Sunday Times Generation Next even more exciting and relevant for all involved,” says Trevor Ormerod, GM Group Sales & Marketing at Times Media.    “The annual survey is a fundamental part of what Times Media is about – investing in research and delivering value to brands and their marketing teams.  The insights we glean from SA’s youth each year are crucial in guiding companies invested in the success and longevity of their business, and we look forward to maintaining our commitment in the years to come.”

The Sunday Times Generation Next would like to acknowledge partners for 2016:

Headline partners: MTV, Proudly South African, You Decide

Corporate partners: Dark & Lovely Beautiful Beginnings, M-Net Movies, SABC1, Lucky Star

Display partners:  Pringles, , Super C, Volkswagen South Africa, Bakers, BOUNCE, Boston City Campus & Business College, Converse, Eucerin, Lumi, The Walt Disney Company

The Sunday Times Generation Next Supplement, full list of results and research methodology can be downloaded from the following link:http://www.tmadroom.co.za/supplement/generationNext

Images from the event (please credit all images to the Sunday Times) can be downloaded from the following dropbox link –https://www.dropbox.com/sh/0gl5wchvpvx2u95/AACU8FKqft4d4ZSCCpH16OHYa?dl=0

If you’re looking to make an impression, make it a lasting one at the 2017 Sunday Times Generation Next. South Africa’s leading Youth Marketing initiative is giving your brand the opportunity to book a high-visibility, interactive showcase area, for a space that will grab the attention of youth, top brand leaders, ambassadors, advertisers, marketing gurus and consumers from across the country. Contact Stephen Horszowski | Stephen@timesmedia.co.za | 082 650 9002

For media enquiries please contact Samantha Pugh

Issued by:  Samantha Pugh, Pugh Public Relations & Corporate Communications

e: sam@pughpr.co.za   c:  071 874 5460

On behalf of:               Trevor Ormerod, GM Sales and Marketing, Times Media

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