By Damon Freeman

Statistics South Africa’s recent mid-year population estimates have once again confirmed what advertisers, agencies and media planners should by now have permanently scrawled on the back of their hands, or at least have drifting across computer screens every time their screensaver comes on: The largest single age group in the country is between the ages of 15 and 29, with well over 14 million people (in fact, there is a larger group, 0 – 15 years, but I consider it unethical to specifically target kids under 16). This is the group that not only represents the largest proportion of adult individuals, but will also make up the key spending group for the next 20 years. Furthermore, this is also the group that is most likely to influence their friends, family and colleagues in terms of buying decisions. Brand loyalties that exist or develop within this group now are more likely to remain entrenched in the market for decades to come. I like to call them the Influentials due to the word-of-mouth connectivity power that this group wields and the many varied networks in which they socialise.

Marketers need to be asking themselves how to enter, access, infiltrate, influence, convert and delight this market every time they consider an advertising campaign for their product or service. It almost doesn’t matter what the product is, since the Influentials are part of networks that often cut across traditional age, race and cultural barriers. They are the opinion leaders of the future and the heroes of the youth.

Understandably in the current global market slump, not every company has millions to put into a traditional advertising campaign (and unless you spend literally millions, your advertising will get lost in the television, radio and print advertising avalanche). Now is the time to be smart in how companies reach the country’s largest target market. There are ways to cut through the clutter of traditional advertising, at a fraction of the cost – whether it’s through experiential advertising in high-traffic urban areas, sponsorship of local sports teams or tournaments, clever viral marketing or simply giving away product samples, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to capture the loyalty of the Influentials. If you can market your product in a way that is memorable, interesting and gets people talking, whether it’s through the message or the platform, the networking power of South Africa’s largest target group will spread your message faster than any traditional advertising campaign can.

You may also like to read: The Consumer Cost of Advertising or Advertise. Sell Stuff. Make Money.


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