Marketing study points to dynamic youth culture

16 July 2002
ACCORDING to the research results of a study by the Unilever Institute of Strategic Management, the current generation of young adults in South Africa changes faster than any previous generation, making it essential to keep abreast of their shifting attitudes and behaviour.

The Institute held a seminar where they presented the results of Trend youth: the blender is on, an in-depth study of South Africa's 18- to 24-year old market.

According to the Institute, a deeper understanding of this market is crucial, given its size and growing financial influence. Twenty percent of the South African population is between the ages of 18 and 24, a significantly higher percentage than in first world countries. The research methodology included extensive desk research, 18 focus groups and 800 face-to-face interviews.

The sample comprised males and females between the ages of 18 and 24, drawn from major metropolitan areas and including those who are employed, unemployed and students.

The objectives for this phase of the project were to identify the key trends relating to the young adult market in South Africa and to compare these trends with global youth trends. With this as a foundation, the overall aim is to signpost the way forward for marketers wishing to reach these young consumers in South Africa.

Some of the key macro trends currently impacting on young South African adults that have been identified are the shifting demography of youth, polarised attitudes towards the new South Africa, technology, the global village and the shifting attitudes of society towards tradition and women.

According to the study, youth live an environment where many of the core assumptions and themes governing society are in question and are breaking down. Certainty has been replaced by uncertainty and the speed of change is accelerating constantly.

The message for marketers is simple: the youth cannot be fooled by communication that attempts unsophisticated mirror reflections of youth culture.

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