Forget millennials, centennials now hold the key to brand relevancy

Centennials have some serious spending power, but brands still have to figure out how to be relevant to South Africa's new generation of youth.

The millennial is getting older and is no longer considered “youth” if born between 1982 and 1993.

Youth agency Student Village, following a national qualitative study, introduced the new generation this month with the release of their Youth Culture Report.

Student Village CEO Marc Kornberger revealed many insights into the habits of the incredibly diverse generation in South Africa.

“Our research shows that this generation has serious spending power, spending R32 billion per annum, which is more than the average South African.

“We know that brands want to target them, but don’t know how to be relevant. The research aimed to dive deeper into the new youth generation, looking at their drivers, values, and what makes them tick,” he added.

Speakers from the Youth Culture Report by Student Village that gives insight into the
new generation of youth in South Africa. Picture: Supplied

Research was conducted in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, where people born from 1994 were included. One of the biggest aspects setting the centennial generation apart is the fact that they are digital natives. This evolution is evident by the toys popular over the past five decades, and how they became more technologically advanced.

Claire Cobbledick, Head of Core Business at Gumtree SA, says the category is growing in South Africa for selling toys as part of nostalgia, but when listing popular toys from the 1950s to now there’s one change – technology.

From the 1980s with the introduction of Nintendo’s Gameboy, each decade toys have become more and more advanced.

In the 1990s, top-selling toys included the Tamagotchi, while Sony’s Playstation 2 and Nintendo’s Wii dominated the 2000s. That’s till ongoing.

Ahead of the festive season, retail giant Makro spent a morning with children, allowing them to pick their favourite toys. The winner was the Kurio Tab Connect, a personal tablet designed for children.

The mid-priced piece of technology features the Kurio Genius Internet Filtering System that filters, categorises and updates, blocking inappropriate content for children. Parents can also adjust profiles for kids as they grow older, allowing them to access new content applicable to their age.

According to Student Village’s findings, centennials look to new technology that can help them save money while having fun in the process.

“This new group is creating their own culture, telling their own stories, setting their own rules and living by them.

“Unlike previous generations, this one is willing to take risks. They are exploring entrepreneurship earlier. Their understanding of the internet and social media has made it easier for them to run their businesses operationally almost at no cost by simply using the web,” says Kornberger.

Mobile networks like Cell C have been able to tap into this potential. Currently some websites and social media platforms are completely free to Cell C subscribers, and it’s clearly geared toward a young generation.

Careers24, Wikipedia, OLX, Gumtree, BBC News and Money Matters, as well as Facebook and Facebook Messenger, are included in the free access.

The report states that centennials have become more image-conscious than their millennial predecessors, and are selective about what they share on social media and rather spend money on material things to show off on social media, while millennials opt to use their extra income to pay for unique experiences.

Brands still have to figure out how to be relevant to centennials in South Africa.

Some facts about centennials:

  • They are culture creators, creating and defining culture, living by their own rules and telling their own stories.
  • More than just the fear of missing out (Fomo), there now exists a greater fear within the youth culture and that is the fear of being irrelevant (Fobi).
  • This group is exploring entrepreneurship earlier, taking risks and trying to create for themselves.
  • Centennials value power and wealth and look to achieve through being enterprising (working smart) rather than working hard.
  • Centennials have come to the realisation that whatever is discussed by those they voted into power has a direct impact on their future. They have now chosen to engage in both online and offline discussions about socio-economic issues they otherwise would have ignored.

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