What SA’s ‘Coolest’ Brands Know About The Youth Market That You Don’t

Updated on 5 June 2017

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What SA's 'Coolest' Brands Know About The Youth Market That You Don't


All month long SME South Africa will highlight young entrepreneurs, innovators and influencers who are shaping the future, as part of our Youth Month 2017 coverage. Follow #YouthAmplified on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.

Often thought to be one of the hardest markets to crack, there are a few brands that have tapped into and found resonance with the lucrative youth market.

The Sunday Times together with HDI Youth Marketeers, every year compiles a list of brands that have managed to do just that, as part of the Sunday Times Generation Next survey.

The survey, now the leading annual youth brand preference and consumer behavior survey, polls over 5,500 youths aged 8 to 23 and offers insights into the brands that are getting their youth engagement strategies right.

To see how the top 10 coolest brands are striking a cord with young people, we look at how they are talking to the youth market where it counts – social media.


The Brand: Sportswear and equipment giant Nike, won the top spot last year, and was once again awarded the Overall Coolest Brand, after claiming top spot in three of the 75 categories surveyed: Coolest Clothing Brand, Coolest Brand Slogan and Coolest Footwear Brand.

Why Their Social Media Strategy Works: Nike’s marketing is not just about selling shoes or athletic apparel – they are pitching a fitness lifestyle that everyone feels they need to be a part of. That, together with creating a sense of community among its fans, is one of Nike’s most effective engagement tactics.

“Social media is powerful for brands such as Nike because it creates two-way interactions between fans and brands. Nike optimises this capability and dominates social media by creating a sense of community and connection with its fans,” according to a blog post on Rivalic.


Eyes on the prize @leomessi has his sights set on the ? #NEMEZIZ #HereToCreate

A post shared by adidasZA (@adidasza) on 

The Brand: Adidas is another global leader in the sporting goods industry, and has cemented its position as a truly cult lifestyle brand.

Why Their Social Media Strategy Works: Social media is a natural extension of Adidas’s wider approach to marketing, especially in creating hype around its high-profile collaborations.

“From Pharrell Williams to Stella McCartney, Adidas Originals is also shrewd in terms of how it collaborates with high profile personalities. Unlike other brands, who might merely use celebrities to front campaigns, Adidas put a huge focus on the personal and direct involvement of influencers in the actual designing process,” the blog post further states.


The Brand: The South Korea-based Samsung was announced by Forbes as the second biggest tech company in the world, with $174 billion in sales, $19 billion in profit, $217 billion in assets and a market cap of $254 billion.

Why Their Social Media Strategy Works: Interactive and quality-driven are some of the words that describe Samsung’s social media identity. Their striking imagery strikes a cord with their audience. In an interview with Brand24Bartek Szymeczko, senior social media specialist at Samsung Electronics Polska says their social media strategy is focused on growing reach and engagement by creating high quality local or localised content.

“However, what’s even more important is to be accepted by the community and be an active and helpful part of the community. We’re trying our best to be as human as possible in the corporate world,” he says.


Love at first sight. ? (Thank you, @mbals, for being my hand model) #NewMacBook

A post shared by Alessio La Ruffa (@alessiolr) on 

The Brand: According to Forbes, Apple is the world’s biggest tech company. Among global tech companies, it has had the highest revenue ($233 billion), profit ($53 billion), assets ($239 billion) and market cap ($586 billion) in the past year. These results, Forbes states, not only make Apple the biggest tech company in the world, but also bumps it to the 8th largest company in the world.

Why Their Social Media Strategy Works: Apple is well-known for going against the grain and, according to a post on CIO, has repeatedly shunned the status quo and routinely defied the odds of success throughout its nearly 40-year history, and its social media strategy is no different.

“If there’s one thing Apple proves time and again it’s that it doesn’t have to — nor does it want to — follow the unwritten rules of business, technology or marketing. The rules don’t always apply to Apple, however, the nuances of social media mean companies that resist the road most traveled can ultimately succeed, and Apple proves this.”

5. BMW

Shatter the box of conventional design. The #BMW Concept #X2.

A post shared by BMW (@bmw) on 

The Brand: German luxury vehicle, motorcycle, and engine manufacturing company, is one of the best-selling luxury automakers in the world. BMW is seen by many as one of the most important brands in the automotive industry. In a recent review by Auto Insurance Center, in terms of mentions of car brands on Instagram, “BMW wins, hands down. With a commanding lead over its competitors, BMW is America’s Most Instagrammed car brand by far”.

Why Their Social Media Strategy Works: With a following that has broken through the ten million followers’ mark, BMW’s international Instagram channel is the most successful automotive brand on Instagram worldwide, says the company in its blog.

“BMW uses its Instagram channel to share the BMW brand lifestyle with its followers – sharp and evokes excitement and thrill in owning a luxury car, which is exactly what the company is aiming to do. In addition to effective influencer marketing, the brand also celebrates the involvement and enthusiasm of each individual fan. Under the hashtag #bmwrepost, BMW shares photos taken by enthusiasts and hobby photographers with the community in appreciation of its loyal fans around the globe,” the company states on its blog.


The Brand: Mr Price is one of South Africa’s leading fashionable low-cost retailers.

“Mr Price understands its market very well and does an admirable job of keeping its fashion offering relevant,” says 36ONE equity analyst Daniel Isaacs in an interview on Moneyweb. “This is reflected in the group’s excellent stock turn numbers and gross margin.”

Why Their Social Media Strategy Works: Mr Price is perhaps one of the few local brands that has recognised the power and social currency bloggers yield, says Saint-Francis Tohlang, an independent insight consultant and trend analyst in an article on Bizcommunity.

“In recognising that they have found meaningful ways of building relationships with bloggers. It is a brand that has unselfishly looked to utilise the power bloggers yield and at the same time engage them in a mutually beneficial relationship,” he adds.


Here to stay. @1tylerennis, @MStrooo6, and @mr1LOVETO #RECO6NIZE the 416.

A post shared by Jordan (@jumpman23) on 

The Brand: Jordan is a Nike brand that is endorsed and originally created in collaboration with Chicago Bulls basketball player Michael Jordan. Today, Air Jordans have become the most coveted shoes among Generation Y, according to news website Digiday. The brand has 12.4 million followers on Instagram, making it the brand’s biggest social platform and also bests every individual NBA team as well as most players on Instagram, the blog post states.

Why Their Social Media Strategy Works: Jordans are something of a phenomenon for its young legion of followers and their social media presence reflects both the brand’s sports background and street culture influence. Instagram stories is the latest tool the Jordan brand has in its arsenal on Instagram, which has become one of the “main focal points” in the brand’s overall social media strategy, states Digiday. While shoes and other apparel are a major area of focus, they also post photos and videos of their sports star brand ambassadors.


The Brand: Guess has grown to be one of the most recognized apparel brands and retailers in the world and according to Moosylvania, a branding, digital and experiential agency, Guess is one of the Top 100 Brands for Millennials.

Why Their Social Media Strategy Works: Guess is seen as a sexy, fashion-forward clothing and accessories brand. They are also well-known for their memorable advertising campaign images. This youthful, trendsetting attitude also comes through on their social media platforms.

“We need to be where our customers are, and we know that our young, extroverted customer is an early adopter of new media,” says Amber Tarshis, senior vice president of marketing at Guess. “For this reason, we’re going to continue to take risks and try new digital platforms as they become available.”



The Brand: The nearly $1 billion international French sports fashion brand, Lacoste has gone from preppy tennis-whites to “unconventional chic” and now sells everything from watches to lingerie.

Why Their Social Media Strategy Works: Lacoste projects high fashion imagery which aims to drive home the notion that Lacoste is casual, fashionable and versatile, while injecting the standard sex appeal, says former CEO Steve Birkhold in an interview with Forbes.



The Brand: Global brand consultancy, Interbrand ranked Coca Cola as the third largest multinational in the world while CoreBrand gave them first position for most respected brand in America.

Why Their Social Media Strategy Works: Coca Cola’s social media brand channels have a combination of well over 90 million global fans and followers, according to social media blog, Passive Residual Income Ideas. Its core themes are happiness, togetherness and refreshment and reinforces this feeling of community by creating content through dynamic storytelling which encourages shares and comments from their fan base, the blog post continues.

“They also do a good job of replying directly to their fans’ queries and comments. Coca Cola uses part of its crowd-sourcing technique to engage its following by fronting influencers such as Jason Darulo,” the blog post states.

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