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What young people really want

The results of the thirteenth Sunday Times Generation Next youth survey were announced earlier this month, with Nike once again being honoured as the “Overall Coolest Brand”, after claiming top spot in three of the 75 categories surveyed: Coolest Clothing Brand, Coolest Brand Slogan, and Coolest Footwear Brand.

The annual survey, commissioned by the Sunday Times and conducted by HDI Youth Marketeers, is a barometer of youth sentiment towards brands and celebrities in South Africa. Nearly 12 000 youths aged between 8 and 23 years, across urban and peri-urban parts of South Africa, were polled.

“The Sunday Times Generation Next survey continues to deliver very relevant data on the perceptions and motivations behind the brand choices of SA’s youth.  We believe the insights delivered are essential to marketers and advertisers, and we’re very proud to make it available to the industry,” says Reardon Sanderson, GM Commercial at Times Media.

“Education and spirituality are the big themes in this year’s study,” says Catherine Bothma, MD of HDI Youth Marketeers.  “Without a doubt, young people view self-enrichment as very important. Only nine years ago youth couldn’t live without their cellphones and money, whereas this year, those have fallen to 4th and 5th place, making space for family, religion and education.”

Brands that have maintained top spot in their respective categories since 2016 include FNB, Samsung, Mr Price, SAA, Colgate, Protea Hotels, Sandton City, Identity, Vodacom, KOO, Engen, Sunday Times, Trace, Google Play Store, MetroFM, Top Gear magazine, McDonald’s, Spur, Red Bull Energy Drink, Doritos, Coca-Cola, Jelly Tots, Mugg & Bean, Orbit chewing gum, Always, Avon, WhatsApp,  Tom & Jerry, FIFA, Daily Sun and Dark & Lovely.

New categories awarded in 2017 are Coolest Footwear/Shoe Store (TotalSPORTS); Coolest Stationery Store (CNA); Coolest Ice Cream (Magnum); Coolest Local Screen/TV Star (Trevor Noah); Coolest University (University of Cape Town, UCT); Coolest Stationery (Bic); Coolest Pet Food (Whiskas); Coolest Spread/Sauce (Nutella); Coolest College (Rosebank College); Coolest Yoghurt (Parmalat); and Coolest Method of Transport (Gautrain).  

“Youth are becoming increasingly aware of their surroundings and every year they become more open in their consumption habits. Now more than ever, youth want to associate with brands that invest in their communities, brands that do good, that make them feel special, and are accessible and affordable, of course. When it comes to celebrities, the youth are all about the celebs who have an international impact, representing South Africa in a positive way,” says Bothma says.

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