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Cool brands in South Africa

At the end of May, the South African newspaper Sunday Times announced its yearly Generation Next brand awards. Over 7,200 young South Africans from six provinces were surveyed in a large study that overspanned 72 categories, from fast food outlets to mobile providers, fashion brands, banks and even celebrities. I will summarize the main conclusion of this survey that is mapping young consumers’ brand preferences in South Africa here for you.

I certainly agree with Enver Groenewald, general manager of advertising revenue and strategic communications at Sunday Times. He stressed the importance of sensing Gen Y’s likes and dislikes in this way: “ As the buying force of tomorrow, youth need to be validated as consumers, as they have the potential to make or break a product or service.” In South Africa over 50% is under the age of 23 and last year they spent 95.3 billion ZAR (almost 1.4 billion USD or nearly 1 billion EUR).

Technology brands still on top of the list

The Blackberry smart phone wasn’t just the ‘coolest cellphone brand’ and ‘high-tech gadget’ of the year but its messenger service Blackberry Messenger (BBM) was named ‘Best Cellphone Application’ as well and the Blackberry brand won the overall coolest brand award. It beated all the other high scoring brands like BMW and Coca-Cola in other categories.

In South Africa, this reflects a year-on-year growth in tech consumption amongst Gen Y which is quite familiar to other regions and illustrates Gen y’s preference for products and services that are both functional, affordable and cater to multiple purposes and needs. BBM clearly turned a business smart phone into a cool tool for Gen Yers by supporting their increasingly connected lifestyle. More than one third (35%) even wished for a Blackberry for their birthday, which was higher than a laptop (30%) and only just below the 41% that would prefer a clothing voucher of 10,000 ZAR (almost 1,500 USD or 1,000 EUR). In the top 5 things South African youth couldn’t live without, their cellphone (46%) was even slightly higher positioned than their family (43%) and parents (29%). 

How a magazine stays hot

CAR magazine sees its numerous efforts of keeping its magazine hot for the fickle generation rewarded with the Coolest Male Magazine prize for the third year in a row. The magazine took many innovative initiatives in the new media space and has recently experimented with an augmented reality cover and QR codes.

Like we have illustrated in our book’s chapter on coolness, the secret formula of cool brands is all about:

  1. reflecting and supporting the daily lifestyles of Gen Y’ers
  2. touching them emotionally, with positive emotions aroused by challenging experiences that connect them socially to each other
  3. a differentiating, original and stimulating proposition,
  4. that although it regularly refreshed and re-interpreted and in that way surprising Gen Yers,
  5. ALWAYS stays true to the brand DNA, without faking or imitating

Some interesting top 3 results

To end, here are some other interesting results from the South African survey:

Coolest Brand Slogan:

  1. Ayoba! 27% (MTN, a telco provider), “Ayoba” is a slang term used by South Africans to express delight, excitement, agreement and approval. It originates from the townships in Johannesburg and is meant to be an appreciation of good dancing. It is uniquely South African and also used as a greeting.
  2. Just Do It 20% (Nike, plain old but still number two!)
  3. So much more 15% (DStv, a TV channel)

Coolest job: (a confirmation of the empowered Gen Y who’s looking for professional success with many young social media CEO as lead examples)

  1. CEO 21%
  2. Actor/Actress 13%
  3. Entrepreneur (own business) 12%

Most frequently used social networking site or website:

  1. Facebook: 62%
  2. Mxit: 47%
  3. Google: 27%

Music artist Big Nuz, comedian Trevor Noah and radio dj Cleo are the three most and equally liked local celebrities in South Africa. Cape Town (46%) and Durban (31%) are rated as the coolest local holiday destinations. And to have fun, South African Gen Yers go to Gold Reef City (38%), Sun City (35%) and uShaka Marine World (28%).

The complete results of the study can be downloaded here.

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