23 August 2012

Kenya: New Research Shows How to Understand Youth


A friend who is now a retired senior marketer once narrated a story about his encounter with some young people.

The then fourty-something executive had gone hanging out with some much younger company and in the course of the day been completely perturbed by the fact that they kept calling him Zack, especially when reffering to him in conversation with each other.

He spent his evening correcting them about his name and eventually gave up. That Monday, he explained to some colleagues how "these kids kept callining me " this Zack" ..they are funny people, I told them my name so many times".

If you don't spend your days with similar people or get called Zack a couple of times, then you could just benefit from reading the

Youthscapes study by Youth Dynamix. The current study has some interesting revealations.

More than 80 per cent of 16-24 year olds have a mobile which they also refer to as the most important device in their lives. They are heavy mobile users with some sending over 250 texts a day! Predictably, they also spend the most on mobile airtime. Clothes, shoes and transport follow in budget prioritisation.

They spend nearly Sh2 billion in airtime and most are online through their phones all week. They live on Facebook and Twitter. Importantly, while the rest of the world watches TV at prime time, they multiscreen through popular programmes and pay attention to musical content .

To this group, the world would come tumbling down if music were to be removed from their lives. They listen to music on their phones through the day. They have access to every type as they surf in and out of Youtube to watch and listen to the latest music videos.

While the youth of most generations consumed media pushed at them, this one is in control of what it watches and hears. They also engage with their media via comments and sharing stuff they like with their friends.

Anyone selling to this generation has to consider the consequences of pushing things at them. They live in a world of discussion and consensus. Their world is flat and their infuencers varied and multicolored. They seek heroes from among themselves and communicate with each other continiously.

Media consumption is a multiple task involving radio TV and a mobile phone. Live events are watched in groups not neccessarily in the same room. The line between the virtual and the real is thin where this generation is concerned.

When asked about politics, the youth between 18-24 say they are distrustful of politicians. Will they vote? Yes, more than 60 per cent will.

With views like these, it is quite likely they will seek the unpolitical in leaders. More likely leaders who like them, see the world as a flat place where great ideas and leadership come from those beside you, not those on top of you.

Youthscapes is a helpful deck of information as businesses seek ways to connect with a generation most leaders are getting to know. It is definately worth a deep read.

Frank is lead consultant at FMC and CEO at Sponge, a mobile agency.

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