The Sunday Times Gen Next Youth Marketing Conference took place in June 2019 at the Sandton Convention Centre where brands met to gather insights from experts and the youth about emerging trends, as well as understand what the youth really want from the businesses that are targeting them.  In turn, brands can incorporate some of these findings in their advertising and marketing strategies to convey their message to the youth.

Gen Next Conference Panel 2019
Gen Next Conference Panel 2019
  1. 4IR Revolution is already here

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is no longer just a buzzword, it’s already here and has rapidly changing how consumers can access products and services remotely, which also influencers how the youth consume media and the brands that resonate. Mummy Mthembu-Fawkes, an entrepreneur who was a keynote speaker suggests that the youth is more about access than ownership and if they can access your brand without owning it, it’s better for them.

She used ride hailing app Uber as part of her analogy, where the youth can access it directly from their smartphones instead of buying a car. They’d rather request a ride without the financial commitment that comes with purchasing a vehicle.

This is similar in some way to the decline of renting and buying DVDs where people can now stream any media from movies to music. The era of 4IR shows that no business can afford to remain unchanged.


  1. The Future of Advertising and Influencer Marketing

Technology has disrupted numerous industries including advertising and marketing where we have seen the rise of influencer marketing which has grown tremendously over the years. Influencer marketing is said to be more cost-effective and provide richer data when compared to more traditional marketing, which can save businesses a lot of money especially in a tough economy.

Gen Next Conference 2019
  1. Generation Z and Generation Alpha brand perceptions

Millennials have matured and so has brand communication in relation to this generation, where it seems a new, younger, generation of influencers are taking the lead.  These generations are Generation Z which refers to people born in the mid-1990s to mid-2000s and Generation Alpha who are born from 2011 to 2025, according to Flux Trends.

Members of the Junior Board of Directors at HDI Youth Marketeers who were mostly Gen Z shared some of their brand likes and dislikes in a panel discussion. They delved into what they think is cool right now and the trends they’re currently following, as well as the brands that are leading the charge with their approach to marketing.

One of the things that stood out in the discussion was that brands have to be relatable and not try too hard to be cool in the eyes of the Generation Z because they appear as fake. Nike was the most talked about brand which they say resonates with them and attracts their attention in the cluttered advertising, marketing and communications landscape.

  1. Online Gaming is the future

Gone are the days when playing online games was regarded as entertainment only, these days it has become a career for many people around the world. Online gaming in South Africa has also grown and there are even gaming competitions and expos happening annually such as rAge Expo and the Ekasi Tech Fest.

Author and Speaker Dominic Gaobepe had a discussion with Julia Robson, a seasoned Esports personality who shared her experiences in this this ever-growing sector. She talked about how she got into the industry and how she collaborated with Red Bull which always saw her with their energy drink. The brand approached her saying they will provide her with product, where there was no need for mentions in return.

Finding ways to collaborate with people who are already evangelists works for brands, where the approach is beneficial for both parties.

Brands left the conference with food for thought and many usable insights that will surely influence strategy where youth marketing is concerned.

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