The youth of South Africa are a cynical bunch; they can spot a hard-sell a mile away. So how can a brand market to them? Kay Cheytanov, MD of experiential youth marketing company 3RC, shares her thoughts on marketing to the youth of today.

Marketing to the South African Youth

As marketers we know that in order to take brands, services and products to the consumer, one of the first things to know is who is the customer? Followed closely by what do they want and how do they get what they want?
Marketing to the youth, especially in South Africa, is not as simple as it seems. Our tumultuous past has a way of catching up to us and as a result of this, be it directly or indirectly, many of our youth are losing hope in our country. As marketers, why should we care if our youth have lost hope? I say OUR youth, because they are the decision makers of tomorrow.  We should care because hope builds dreams and dreams, if realised, can move a nation forward. In everything, including business, innovation and economy.
The youth of South Africa are one group of consumers who have their finger firmly on the pulse of their immediate environment and the world around them. They know what they want and are fiercely loyal to brands. That is, until the next cool product, service and brand captures their interest.
The key factor when marketing to youth is to know who they are.
Know what their hopes, dreams and fears are. From there you can find the best way to engage with them. Talk with them and involve them, don’t talk to them. South African teenagers have a lot on their shoulders; they can be cynical and can spot a hard sell from a mile away. So for marketers wanting to capture their attention, the focus should be on involving them.
So how can you make your brand relevant to them? You make it part of the conversation. You give teenagers the opportunity to be involved and allow them to experience a brand for themselves. It’s about creating a two way conversation. It’s about motivation, inspiration and education. It’s about sparking interest and igniting passion and essentially bringing hope back into their lives and into their vocabulary.
Key Things to Consider when taking a brand to the Youth market
Teenagers like to talk, and if they buy into your brand they’ll spread the message amongst their peers like wildfire.
They like to talk, but they also like to do. Keep them involved and make them feel good about themselves. 
Make sure the information you give them is brilliant. Furthermore, make sure it is delivered in the right format, one that is engaging and relevant.
Ensure that the platform is a natural fit for your youth audience. Teenagers at a school in a rural area will assimilate information quite differently from teenagers at a school in the suburbs.
Give them something to think about. Teach them something. Allow them to discover things for themselves. 
*This article originally appeared on Marketing Spread