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Yellowwood looks forward to the 20th anniversary of GenNext

Founded in 2004, the GenNext study remains the industry’s most comprehensive survey of consumer behaviour and brand preference among young people. The survey aims to demystify the behaviours and preferences of 8 to 30 year-olds across the country and over the years, the GenNext research has become the youth barometer for brands in South Africa. With its historical inception attributed to HDI Youth Marketeers, the study is now an integral part of strategy consultancy company, Yellowwood, since its acquisition of HDI in 2021.

Yellowwood Managing Director, Refilwe Maluleke comments, ‘Our focus on unlocking brand-led growth in a country where 15-34 year-olds constitute over 60% of the population, making the capabilities our data strategy team decided to acquire, an easy one. Over the years we have enhanced the study to better understand the drivers of youth behaviour and include a segmentation of South African youth that has added significant value to our clients in their fight to win with this segment.’

This exceptional research study reaches out to a broad spectrum of young individuals, with over 7 000 participants in the research in recent years. The study is geared towards providing valuable insights into the preferences, attitudes and behavioural patterns of the youth market, which can be utilised to inform marketing strategies and drive business growth.

Two-pronged research approach

A substantial part of GenNext’s success can be attributed to the Sunday Times’ Coolest Brands Awards, in partnership with Sunday Times that is hosted annually and celebrates top ranked brands in the Brand Preference Survey. Sunday Times GenNext Coolest Brands enters its 20th year of recognising brands that truly resonate with the youth.

Over the past 20 years, the research teams behind this monumental platform have worked hard to innovate and revitalise the categories and methodologies in conducting the research, to ensure the integrity of information and data reflecting the young people of the country. With this prioritised over the years, brands have accessed insights, which have helped them understand young people and be dynamic in the work they do – with and for them.

In addition to the wealth of insights to expect this year, the Youth Behaviour Report, introduced by Yellowwood in 2021, sees its 4th edition released this year including trended data. A report that not only identifies key drivers in the behaviours of young people but distils ways in which brands can begin to conceptualise strategic engagements with the youth market more meaningfully.

This youth research is one of the very few research undertakings that comprehensively covers a wide range of young people and is the most robust quantitative and qualitative youth behaviour research output present in South Africa today.

Clarissa De Sousa, Marketer – Go to Market Operations at MTN says, ‘Over the past few years, the GenNext study has enabled MTN Pulse to critically evaluate its value proposition strategy to ensure it appeals and is relevant to the youth’s ever-evolving needs. Not only looking at in-category (telco) behaviours but holistically, has helped us understand this segment better and has been instrumental in developing suitable solutions for the youth. Furthermore, we’ve used this study as one of our sources to inform the evolution of our youth communication strategies, the types of opportunities that would resonate and make a difference in the lives of young people, and how we set ourselves apart in the telco category.’

20th year milestone & 2024 theme

This year’s theme will focus on celebrating the anniversary milestone of Sunday Times’ GenNext and how the research’s premise has always been focused on understanding young people. This annual ambition and our continued efforts to evolve GenNext into a property that continuously delivers on value for our industry has meant that our research will introduce a metric to define what “Cool” is and how young people understand this in how they engage brands and businesses.

Our GenNext theme in 2024 will salute the amplification of the youth and all the components that the research has shined a light on, to help create data-driven strategies for clients and our industry, which Yellowwood intends to continue delivering as it looks to the next chapter of this research.

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