How the young & the restless view the global community



Recently we looked at the three most important motivations of young people. All over the world. From Bujumbura to Boston. From The Go Down to Gollywood -Ghana’s nascent TV production community.

I think it’s important to remind marketers at every turn that human values and motivations are becoming more universal as the months pass. Here in Africa we are still apprehensive about cross border marketing, and that is slowing our progress.

Let’s start from the basis that humanity is homogeneous, and then consider functional overlays like language and culture and even facial characteristics. Let’s have fewer conversations about the perceived differences between nationalities. That just makes marketing more complicated than it really is.

I referred to McCann Worldgroup’s latest study ‘The Truth about Youth’, a global study, sampling 7000 young people in Southern Africa, Brazil, India, Spain, Mexico, China, US and UK. This revealed that the three most common global motivations among young people are:

  1. The need for JUSTICE.
  2. The desire for COMMUNITY.
  3. The demand for AUTHENTICITY.

Today, let’s explore how young people have evolved the notion of community. They have moved it forward in a way previous generations have been unable to. And you know why.

McCann say that for young people, technology is more than a useful tool or an enabler. It is truly their fifth sense.

Where older generations start with ‘what will this box allow me to do?’, young people start with ‘what do I want to do? Where can my imagination take me?’ Technology enables young people to sense the world and make sense of the world. It is this deep relationship with technology that is shaping their attitudes towards community and truth and allowing them to re-imagine justice for a new era.

Given a list of things (including cosmetics, their car, their passport, their phone and their sense of smell) and told they could only save two, 53% of those aged 16-22 and 48% of those aged 23-30 would give up their own sense of smell if it meant they could keep an item of technology (most often their phone or laptop). In Africa we know that the smart phone, retailing for as low as 50 dollars, is already the way most people access the Internet. So, there’s more evidence of global homogeneity.

COMMUNE -the need for connection and community – was rated as the most fundamental motivation by young people.

When asked to draw a picture to sum up their motivations, a young person in Mexico drew the Infinity symbol, stating that it represented “unlimited possibilities and infinite connections through all experiences and people.” Young people in South Africa spoke of the spirit of Ubuntu (a sense of community) and how the true power of togetherness has finally been unleashed by social networking technology.

Contrast this with the way many older South Africans about Ubuntu. A mix of cynicism and feelings of regret, that a powerful concept has been spoiled. Rather like the reaction to Harambee in Kenya, a pull-together movement at Independence that became a tiresome social, political and financial obligation under the Moi regime.

If we want to truly grasp the power of COMMUNITY for this generation, we should look at how they want to be remembered. It is not for their beauty, their power, or their material wealth. The three most significant responses were: –

  1. As a person who was loved by many people
  2. As someone who looked after friends and family.
  3. As a person who changed the world in a positive way.

Now, I can hear many of you thinking: ‘ But we all felt like that when we were young.’ And you would be right, many of us did. The difference is that as we moved into the adult world the norms were so strong, and communications so limited, that we left these feelings behind. Now, with the omnipresent power of social networking, I suggest there is a better chance that these values will be kept alive as people age.

Marketers must understand that the influence of friends is now a key motivator in consumer purchase decisions. For any young person with access to social media, friends are increasingly ‘ever-present’.

In China and India two-thirds of young people say that their friends have more influence over their decisions than their family does (higher than all other countries in the study). It is in developing markets where young people, at the spear point of technological change, are most different from their parents.


This entry was posted in Advertising, Africa statistics, African Business and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *