Experiential Marketing for South African Millennials

Experiential Marketing for Unique South African Millennials

With one foot in the first world, and one foot in third, the South African Millennial is in the unique position where they have the outlook and aspirations of first world Millennials, but understand the limitations and socio-economic factors of being in a developing nation. Traditional marketing campaigns aren’t effective for this kind of outlook. To maximise reach and awareness, you need an integrated omnichannel approach that includes innovative, data-led experiential marketing from a promotions agency partner that understands the channel complexities.



“The South African millennial is an interesting breed. Living in a developing third world nation, but with the hyper-connectivity of their first world counterparts, the South African Millennial is a target audience that responds to more innovative form of advertising” says Michelle Storey, Founder and MD of Tradeway Promotions.

African Millennials differ from American counter-parts.

In America alone, the millennial bracket spends $60 billion a year. This is no partly amount and thus there should be a focus on marketing in that sector.


It is, however, terrible practice to assume that American Millennials will react to marketing in the same way as African Millennials.


“The African Millennial is different in some key ways to the American Millennial and cannot be marketed in the same way. To ignore these differences is to consign your experimental marketing campaign to failure”, continues Michelle.


“The socio-economic factors affecting African Millennials cannot be compared to those affecting American Millennials. Their outlook on life is different, and so they must be marketed to in a different manner”, agrees Greg Martin.


The American millennial is anti-establishment, and would rather spend income on filling their life with events and memories as opposed to items. You will find that American Millennials rent homes instead of buying, use lift sharing services like Uber instead of owning a car and take more vacations to overseas locale’s around the world instead of buying a ‘cabin on the lake’ holiday home as was done by their forefathers.


African Millennials conversely, are actively playing asset catch-up. The African millennial is moving into upper-middle-class roles and is buying the luxuries that their parents could never afford. So while Americans are moving away from fixed assets like homes and cars, African Millennials are focusing on buying those things. They are looking on buying items that speak to status in life. In this case, dressing the part helps them become the part.


In order for any consumer marketing campaign to be successful, one needs to understand its target audience. To market to African Millennials in the same way one would market to American Millenials shows that one does not understand their target audience and has the opposite intended effect, driving your potential customers away.

Some Facts About South African Millennials

The term Millennial was created by Neil Howe and William Strauss, and is used to denote anyone who was born between 1980 and 2004. In 2017, Cosmopolitan ran a survey on Millennials in South Africa. This survey yielded the following figures:

  • There are 195 million Millennials in the country.
  • 78% are employed, and therefore economically active.
  • 96% have a bank account.
  • 62% have bought something that was out of their budget.
  • 62% are saving for something.

These numbers mean to show that Millennials are not only active consumers, but are trying to move their station up in life. By 2020, 50% of the workforce will consist of Millennials.

“A large percentage of the workforce now consists of Millennials, so they have a lot of buying power. This means they are a prime sector to target”, says Greg Martin.

What does this mean for Marketers looking to connect with South African Millennial Consumers?

To add complexity, not all millennials are created equal. Understanding the interests and priorities associated with your target market is key to success. Read more about the 4-types of millennials, here. Regardless, millennials live in a hyper-connected world. Trends come and go faster than major companies are even able to understand them. Such a culture of high-speed craze then obsolescence means that a new kind of experimental marketing is required. Experiential marketing that forms part of integrated consumer marketing strategies. It must be data-led, and generate actionable insights about channel performance. The ability to leverage experiential marketing – whether brand activations in-store or out-of-home, promotional marketing or field sales services can form an invaluable part of the marketing mix.


Times are changing, and Millennials are key drivers of that change. Below-the-line promotional marketing provides opportunities to keep innovating in terms of maximising engagement. Experiential events and brand activations create tangible opportunities to showcase your brand, product or services in the channels where consumers act and transact.  


Tradeway is African’s largest independent promotional agency and we pride ourselves on data-led brand activations that deliver results, fast, as well as actionable insights that our clients use to inform integrated, omnichannel marketing strategies. Contact us now for more information.