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HDI Youth Marketeers' 2017 youth trends

Youth can be unpredictable – it's the one predictable thing about them. But as Africa's leading youth market specialists, HDI Youth Marketeers, have their finger on the dynamic pulse of youth. Check out the five youth trends that they forecast for 2017.

HDI Youth Marketeers' 2017 youth trends
Augmented reality and virtual experiences have been digerati buzzwords for a few years, but 2016 saw it go ka-boom! as it became accessible to a much wider market. Kids from 6 to 46 manically chased pavements searching for Pokemons digitally embedded in the real world (via the PokemonGo mobile phone game, if you were living under a boulder). Virtual reality (VR) goggles sold for a mere R120 in youth clothing stores (if you weren’t DIY enough to build Google ones out of cardboard). Brands like Contiki ingeniously used VR tech to tease wanderlust in youth, transporting and immersing them in 360° global travel experiences through the headset. Youth have a virtual platform for immersive entertainment, right in their pockets! And now that they’ve dabbled with it, they’re going to crave more tech-driven experiences that inspire and delight. Brands, take note, and take them on a digital trip that blows their mind! As artificial intelligence visionary Kevin Kelly says, “The most popular AI product 20 years from now that everyone uses has not been invented yet. That means that you're not late."

Life gone live

Despite their love for filters (can that dog face filter stop already?) and portraying only their #bestlife on social media, teens and young adults are beginning to pivot towards authenticity in content, especially video and image. In fact, 76% of consumers believe that content shared by the average person is more honest than brand advertising. UGC (user-generated content) is king, and social media influencers have become content royalty. The latest ‘live’ trend on social media is taking it ‘next level’. Tapping into the whiplash popularity of Snapchat and its 24-hour stories, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook have quickly played copycat, giving users the opportunity to broadcast their lives, erm, live. Free of filters or permanence, live broadcasts and social stories are raw, real and ‘right now’. Brands should consider tapping into it, creating more authentic content to have a more meaningful, and trusted, conversation with youth.


Youth are all about instant gratification. So, when they start working, they want that corner office, great pay and a schmancy job title, and they want it now! Oh, and you can throw in flexible working hours (only a few though) and no boss (the coolest job for youth is to be their own boss/CEO according to the 2016 Sunday Times Generation Next Study). Just because workplaces don’t really operate that way, it doesn’t hold back these aspirational go-getters. Cue the side-hustle! A far greater number of urban young adults are quickly becoming moonlighting entrepreneurs – doing freelance-style jobs for extra cash and cred – many with a hope of making it a permanent business eventually. It’s a way to make money out of their (often artistic or tech) passion while being able to count on the pay cheque of a day job. There’s a huge opportunity for brands to step in and help them self-achieve and fulfill their dreams through entrepreneurship platforms.

Equality enforcers

Despite Africa being home to the world’s youngest population, most of its current leaders are above traditional retirement age. Setting this age chasm aside, youth are making these leaders take notice. This ‘born empowered’ generation was born into an age of equality and diversity, and are set on enforcing it – whether it’s about varsity fees, school hair policies, data costs, racism or fempowerment. Since Arab Spring, the world has seen youth social activism massively transform governments, society, businesses and brands. 2017 onwards will see this deepen. So, don’t think they won’t call out your brand! Keep your focus on your consumers – listen to what they’re saying online and make sure you address their concerns, you don’t want to be #thisbrandmustfall!

Me 2.0

Gens Y and Z have been described as narcissistic, entitled and idealistic. But they’re the generation most determined to improve themselves. The social media ‘highlights reel’ could be to blame. Bottomless content showcasing only the most flattering parts of their lives create feelings of inadequacy and a constant drive to be better. Cue an uptick in the self-improvement industry: workout regimes, diet plans, life coaching, success hacks and apps designed to improve wellbeing. Juxtaposing the pivot to aunthenicity, all young adult social feeds still regularly feature the inevitable gym selfie, the #eatclean too-wholesome-to-be-real plate and infuriatingly cheesy motivational succes quote. Brands can play a constructive role in this ambitious journey for self-betterment. Give them tools to grow their greatness. Locally, as an example, Standard Bank has given authentic help and motivation to succeed and achieve through SHIFT – a thought-leadership talk series.

2 Feb 2017 10:09


About the author

Lara Petersen is a Copywriter and Ideator at HDI Youth Marketeers. She's an ADHD kidult with a ‘joie de vivre' and an obsession for bad puns, cheese and travelling. She loves youth as much as she loves dreaming up ‘sjoe!' experiences that connect brands to youth.