THE YOUTH HAS SPOKEN
Youth in Kenya spend 9 billion shillings a year! This is money that they ask for, and don’t have to work for. By the end of today, they’ll have gobbled up another 25 million shillings of your money as guardians. Additionally, Kenyan youth, who make up 60% of our population, are great influencers of what the older generation spend their money on, especially their parents as was revealed in the latest release of Holla, a research study on Kenyan youth carried out by Consumer Insight. The main aim of the fifth edition of Holla was to gain an understanding of lifestyles of the youth.
From the start, it was clear that the youth seek approval. Growing up over the years, they have found society doesn’t send an open invitation to them to fit in, so they have looked for ways they can be accepted into society. For them, the music one listens to, the school one goes to, what one dresses in, plus how and with whom one socialises with are paths trod day by day on the journey to acceptance. Who gives this much sought approval? Parents, when they want to earn respect and their fellow youth, where they earn association.
Back to the 9 billion shilling issue: the youth spend most of their money on snacks, beverages, educational materials and mobile phone airtime. Most of this money comes from parents who, as a youth counselor put it, “Don’t have enough time to spend with their children so they give them money to make up for it.” Despite them controlling all this money, only 8% have a bank account.
The youth still want to hang out with their peers as often as possible, but their choice of social venues will raise your eyebrows: church is one of the preferred places to hook up and hang out. According to a youth pastor, “When they are kids, they go to church as a routine, but when they become adolescents, they go to church to hook up with their friends.” Turning to sports, football holds a commanding podium position, with athletics gaining in popularity over the years. This can be attributed to the successes of Kenyan athletes in the local and international arenas. Kenyan heroine Conjestina Achieng’s fame has not rubbed off on boxing. Her graceful moves and strong punches pull many people including the youth into the ringside, but not into the ring to have a shot at the sport. Basketball has seen its popularity drop greatly due to reduced media coverage and a shortage of basketball icons that the youth can aspire to emulate.
One of the quickest ways of identifying a youth is through their clothing. To the youth, fashion is very important. What you wear isn’t just a way of covering your body, but a statement of who you are.
To make their statements loud and clear, almost 60% of the youth prefer second hand mitumba clothes to new ones because they are more affordable.
Sex, what we the older generation used to call bad manners, is now an everyday topic for the youth. As one doctor put it, “In the older days, sex was sacred and was hidden, but these days there is more of it. It has become so simple and it is like someone going to a kiosk to buy a soda. Young boys will even go to funerals to meet with girls.” Youth experts say that from as early as 8 years, children understand the finer details about sex, even if parents aren’t ready to discuss it with them. That is why the youth turn to the media to quench their thirst for information on sexual and reproductive health issues. Even though the youth don’t trust information from the media, they depend on it because it is readily available.
Their most trusted source, however, is parents, followed by health institutions and friends.
The fifth edition of Holla provides insights that any marketer shouldn’t ignore if they want to talk to the youth. If you want the youth to listen to you, first listen to what they have to say.