In its fifth year, the Sunday Times Generation Next Survey polled over 5,000 urbanites in the 8-22 year olds. The results of the survey give definitive and, at times, surprising insight into how young South Africans perceive and respond to consumer and corporate brands, and which they think make the coolstakes.
With hostesses donning anime costumes, cameras flashing, over 300 marketing industry executives networking, and kids strutting their stuff, the evening was a platform for brands to be recognised as leaders in South African youth marketing.
The research study from which the awards are derived is conducted by HDI Youth Marketeers, “We met very ambitious sample targets this year and extended the number of categories to 56,” says managing director, Jason Levin. “Young South Africans, unshaken by economic downturn, are as brand conscious as ever. Although there were some interesting shifts in the top rankers in some categories, we see growing similarity in votes by region, gender, race and sometimes even age around the coolest brands.”
Nokia took first place in the Coolest Cellphone Category, ranking highest amongst teens and young adults. Samsung was placed 2nd, dropping from 1st place in 2008.
The Coolest Fashion Label 2007 and 2008 winner, Billabong, ranked number 6 this year, with high ratings amongst tweens (aged 8-12). Adidas moved into 1st place with both tween and teen support. Nike came in 2nd, and Puma 3rd. New in the category, Dolce & Gabbana took 5th place after the perennial Levi's.
A new category in this year's Sunday Times Generation Next Survey was Coolest Alternative Brand. The overall winner is lifestyle and clothing brand Ama Kip Kip, enjoying much favour amongst tweens (51.1%) and teens (35.6%). Converse took 2nd place.
Sun City was voted Coolest Fun Destination for the third year in a row and Gateway the Coolest Shopping Centre. Coolest Domestic Airline, another new category, saw SAA taking the coolness trophy for overall winner, with its' sister brand, Mango's orange shine lighting up 2nd place. Trace TV moved up from 4th position in 2008 to 1st position in 2009 as the Coolest Music channel, the music channel of choice for tweens and teens. MTV dropped to number 4 and MTV Base to number 3 from 1st and 2nd positions in 2007 and 2008.
But king of the heap was Cola-Cola. Ranked 6th in 2007 and moving to 1st position in 2008, the international red brand icon retains the number 1 spot as this year's Overall Coolest Brand. Nike moved up the ranks to 3rd place, from 9th in 2008, and Nokia took second place.
“It's hard to topple über-brand Coke from its No. 1 spot, but there were big and exciting shuffles in the order this year with strong showings from Nokia and Nike, particularly,” says Levin, “so we may see a shake-up soon.”
Nike had a striking Generation Next year with wins in the Coolest Sports Store, Coolest Brand Slogan and Coolest Company categories, and a 3rd placing in Coolest Brand. As did Edgars, winning the Coolest Fashion Retailer category and achieving 4th placings in both Coolest Brand and Coolest Company categories. “It's like the whole shopping centre in one store, without the food,” comments Iman S, 13.
Pick n Pay won the Coolest Grocery Retailer for the fifth year running, as did ABSA in the Coolest Bank category.
Enver Groenewald, GM: Advertising Revenue and Strategic Communications at Avusa Media, and Mondli Makhanya, Sunday Times Editor, kept the humour rolling as they handed out the awards, cracking jokes with their dry wit and charm.
Adding excitement to the already über cool event, the Gang of Instrumentals shook their booties on stage, setting the mood for the cool-ness that followed. Prizes, including a weekend away at Sun City, Ama Kip Kip garb, a Pin Pops hamper (complete with iTouch), Nokia and Sony Ericsson cellphones and Gateway shopping vouchers, were given away in lucky draws.
Generation Next hip and hops; twitters and brrrrs. The future lies at their Nike-clad feet, but it was evident from the awards that they have no intention of being swept along. They, themselves will shape and then ride the wave of cool. And it's a wave thy want marketers to surf with them.
From June 2009, brands can enjoy the power of cool by purchasing a Sunday Times Generation Next Coolest Brand endorsement. Only 2009 category winners are eligible, but the mark can be used on all marketing and packaging formats for 12 months. Contact Charlene Naidoo at HDI Youth Marketeers on (011) 706 6016 for more info.
The winners of the Sunday Times Generation Next Survey of the ‘coolest brands' are based on a robust, national, quantitative research study conducted by HDI Youth Marketeers in conjunction with the Sunday Times. This research programme is of great value to all brands, since it lets them in on the thoughts of kids, teens and young adults (aged 8-22) about brands and, furthermore, it gives insight to parents as to what their children are aspiring to. The survey clearly identifies what brands are sought after, since the youth are often the driving force behind opinion-leadership, new product trial and ‘influence' purchases made by parents on behalf of their children.