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Brands must wake to tech-savvy youth

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Most of South Africa’s corporate marketers are bypassing the youth market, a 46% slice of today’s consumers who, although they may not yet have the buying power of their parents, are key decision-makers when it comes to identifying trends, promoting brands and ultimately influence the majority of household buying decisions. Astonishingly enough, even though they have 55% of the spending power in their own right, only 20% of advertising budgets are directed at the youth market, says the 2019 Generation Next study.

By failing to lock in the youth now, says Bongani Chinkanda, CEO of the HDI Youth Consultancy, compilers of the definitive survey on South Africa’s youth, lack of corporate foresight could have unexpected repercussions when young consumers ‘come of age’.

These and other insights are revealed in the 2019 Generation Next Brand Preference and Lifestyle study, which relies on data collected over three months in eight provinces and covers 12 500 children and youth between eight and 13; Secondary school learners between the ages of 14 and 18 and youth who have completed their schooling and are between the ages of 19 and 24.

Although the spending balance rests with parents and older consumers, the data reveals just how seriously the market should be considered. Direct and indirect youth spend is R 131.2 billion annually of these kids spend accounts for R 38.7 billion; teens R 47.9 billion and young adults R 44.6 billion of the total.

Most youth surveyed had definite ideas about what would make them favour a brand. 88% said that good service would make them talk about a brand; 85% would discuss a brand that made them feel original and unique; 81% said good quality would be a talking point.

Chinkanda says: “Organisations failing to recognise young market influences are failing to ‘futureproof’ their companies by making sure that their brands are entrenched with a generation whose influence is going to develop into buying power within the next five to ten years.”

 “Engaging today with 15-year-olds means that you are establishing a relationship with consumers who in a decade, will be making major purchasing decisions. Just as important is the fact that today’s youth are the first to adopt new technologies and digital platforms. Companies must be adaptable and develop their marketing so that it is in sync with market changes-particularly when it comes to using social media as a medium.”

An example in point are the changes taking place in the influencer market, says Chinkanda pointing out that today, ‘authenticity rules’. Content creators have to constantly aware of shifting trends when devising material for posting on social media platforms. This is especially applicable in posts where endorsements are a stock in trade and are regarded as essential in persuading young buyers to not only follow the exploits of a favoured celebrity, but also to adopt his or her behaviours and buy the endorsed products.

It was enough just a few months ago to have celebrities endorse services and products. Now, younger readers want their reference points to be experts in the matter being discussed

“Where a company could use an actress to underwrite, say, a new camera, the younger market now demand that the blogger is a photographer of national or international repute. Content creators have to be quick to recognise that influencers have to conform to new expectations.  Marketers who are not aware of the young consumers’ drive for authenticity could, therefore, be not only using the incorrect influencers, but be creating posts where the language is also inappropriate. Phrases and wording that does not ring true could mean a reduced following, a credibility gap and the potential for a significant portion of corporate spending power to be jeopardised.”

“Keeping track of how youth interact with and respond to brands means that companies need to be aware of which social media platforms are favoured. “

The 2019 Gen Next research showed that of active social media users, 89% of youth used WhatsApp; 61% Facebook, 68% used Instagram, and 43% used Twitter. WhatsApp was rated the ‘coolest’ platform (28%) followed by Instagram (17%) while received only Facebook (14%).

“Despite all this information underling the importance of the youth market, the reality is that too many marketers; youth are an afterthought. They are just not considered in long-term marketing strategies. Worse still, is the boardroom realisation that when the youth market must be regarded as a market segment, marketers, without the backing of research, launch products and services based on what they feel the youth want.”

The corporate conversation needs to change. Instead of being focused on ‘our youth challenge’ it should be rather identifying ‘what our opportunities are’, says Chinkanda.

“The most overused word in youth marketing is ‘hustle’. Our research shows that far from being hustlers, young people want security.”

“For example, our research shows that middle-class children’s’ future focus is on employability. Youth from upper-middle-class backgrounds worry about the jobs of the future, the correct university and the skills that will enable them to compete on a global level. “

Research also shows that the youth have the power to decide on what they buy and where they buy it. Even with this freedom to pick and choose, young buyers are still influenced by their parents who still play the role of effective gatekeepers when it comes to kids formulating responses to markets.

When asked what skills they wished to pursue, some of the responses were:

  • 19% of youth desired business and executive skills
  • 9% of youth wanted financial and money skills
  • 7% of youth desired IT skills

Mobiles are the technological common factor. When it comes to mobiles, 25% of SA’s youth check their phones every five minutes, while 71% check phones at least once an hour.

The research also found that:

  • 77 % owned mobiles
  • 90% gaming consoles
  • 59% smartphones
  • 33% laptops
  • 31%TV’s and HD Tv’s
  • 35% tablets
  • The average South African child spends an average of 2 hours 30 minutes online every day. Time spent online varies from:
  • 1 hour 30 minutes for kids
  • Two hours and 50  minutes for teens, and
  • 3 hours 30 minutes for young adults.
  • Males spend about three hours and eleven minutes a day online, while females spend three hours and four minutes online daily.

“The youth market in South Africa is populated with individuals from urban and rural areas, of differing levels of education and with different expectations of life. It is a vital market that needs to be understood and correctly catered for if it is going to be catered to,” says Chinkanda.

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Tech promotes connections across groups in emerging markets

Digital technology users say they more regularly interact with people from diverse backgrounds

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Smartphone users – especially those who use social media – say they are more regularly exposed to people who have different backgrounds. They are also more connected with friends they don’t see in person, a Pew Research Center survey of adults in 11 emerging economies finds.

South Africa, included in the study, has among the most consistent levels of connection across age groups and education levels and in terms of cross-cultural connections. This suggests both that smartphones have had a greater democratisation impact in South Africa, but also that the country is more geared to diversity than most others. Of 11 countries surveyed, it has the second-lowest spread between those using smartphones and those not using them in terms of exposure to other religious groups.

Across every country surveyed, those who use smartphones are more likely than those who use less sophisticated phones or no phones at all to regularly interact with people from different religious groups. In most countries, people with smartphones also tend to be more likely to interact regularly with people from different political parties, income levels and racial or ethnic backgrounds. 

The Center’s new report is the third in a series exploring digital connectivity among populations in emerging economies based on nationally representative surveys of adults in Colombia, India, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, the Philippines, Tunisia, South Africa, Venezuela and Vietnam. Earlier reports examined attitudes toward misinformation and mobile technology’s social impact

The survey finds that smartphone and social media use are intertwined: A median of 91% of smartphone users in these countries also use social media or messaging apps, while a median of 81% of social media users say they own or share a smartphone. And, as with smartphone users, social media and messaging app users stand apart from non-users in how often they interact with people who are different from them. For example, 52% of Mexican social media users say they regularly interact with people of a different income level, compared with 28% of non-users. 

These results do not show with certainty that smartphones or social media are the cause of people feeling like they have more diverse networks. For example, those who have resources to buy and maintain a smartphone are likely to differ in many key ways from those who don’t, and it could be that some combination of those differences drives this phenomenon. Still, statistical modelling indicates that smartphone and social media use are independent predictors of greater social network diversity when other factors such as age, education and sex are held constant. 

Other key findings in the report include: 

  • Mobile phones and social media are broadening people’s social networks. More than half in most countries say they see in person only about half or fewer of the people they call or text. Mobile phones are also allowing many to stay in touch with people who live far away: A median of 93% of mobile phone users across the 11 countries surveyed say their phones have mostly helped them keep in touch with those who are far-flung. When it comes to social media, large shares report relationships with “friends” online who are distinct from those they see in person. A median of 46% of Facebook users across the 11 countries report seeing few or none of their Facebook friends in person regularly, compared with a median of 31% of Facebook users who often see most or all of their Facebook friends in person. 
  • Social activities and information seeking on subjects like health and education top the list of mobile activities. The survey asked mobile phone users about 10 different activities they might do on their mobile phones – activities that are social, information-seeking or commercial in nature. Among the most commonly reported activities are casual, social activities. For example, a median of 82% of mobile phone users in the 11 countries surveyed say they used their phone over the past year to send text messages and a median of 69% of users say they took pictures or videos. Many mobile phone users are also using their phones to find new information. For example, a median of 61% of mobile phone users say they used their phones over the past year to look up information about health and medicine for themselves or their families. This is more than the proportion that reports using their phones to get news and information about politics (median of 47%) or to look up information about government services (37%). Additionally, around half or more of mobile phone users in nearly all countries report having used their phones over the past 12 months to learn something important for work or school. 
  • Digital divides emerge in the new mobile-social environment. People with smartphones and social media – as well as younger people, those with higher levels of education, and men – are in some ways reaping more benefits than others, potentially contributing to digital divides. 
    • People with smartphones are much more likely to engage in activities on their phones than people with less sophisticated devices – even if the activity itself is quite simple. For example, people with smartphones are more likely than those with feature or basic phones to send text messages in each of the 11 countries surveyed, even though the activity is technically feasible from all mobile phones. Those who have smartphones are also much more likely to look up information for their households, including about health and government services. 
    •  There are also major differences in mobile usage by age and education level in how their devices are – or are not – broadening their horizons. Younger people are more likely to use their phones for nearly all activities asked about, whether those activities are social, information-seeking or commercial. Phone users with higher levels of education are also more likely to do most activities on their phones and to interact with those who are different from them regularly than those with lower levels of education. 
    •  Gender, too, plays a role in what people do with their devices and how they are exposed to different people and information. Men are more likely than women to say they encounter people who are different from them, whether in terms of race, politics, religion or income. And men tend to be more likely to look up information about government services and to obtain political news and information. 

These findings are drawn from a Pew Research Center survey conducted among 28,122 adults in 11 countries from Sept. 7 to Dec. 7, 2018. In addition to the survey, the Center conducted focus groups with participants in Kenya, Mexico, the Philippines and Tunisia in March 2018, and their comments are included throughout the report. 

Read the full report at https://www.pewinternet.org/2019/08/22/in-emerging-economies-smartphone-and-social-media-users-have-broader-social-networks.

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Nokia to be first with Android 10

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Nokia is likely to be the first smartphone brand to roll out Android 10, after its manufacturer, HMD Global, announced that the Android 10 software upgrade would start in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Previously named Android Q, it was given the number after Google announced it was ditching sweet and dessert names due to confusion in different languages. Android 10 is due for release at the end of the year.

Juho Sarvikas, chief product officer of HMD Global said: “With a proven track record in delivering software updates fast, Nokia smartphones were the first whole portfolio to benefit from a 2-letter upgrade from Android Nougat to Android Oreo and then Android Pie. We were the fastest manufacturer to upgrade from Android Oreo to Android Pie across the range. 

“With today’s roll out plan we look set to do it even faster for Android Pie to Android 10 upgrades. We are the only manufacturer 100% committed to having the latest Android across the entire portfolio.”

HMD Global has given a guarantee that Nokia smartphone owners benefit from two years of OS upgrades and 3 years of security updates.

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