Why should big brands and businesses get involved in youth development? This is one question which there are not many answers to. Let’s first define who/what brands are. Theoretically, brands are a set of marketing and communication methods that help to distinguish a company from its competitors and create a lasting impression in the minds of customers. In practice however, a brand will normally refer to a company.
Making a business case for youth development is not only necessary today for big organizations, it is also compulsory. Up until recently, youth development was considered merely a nice thing to do. Big brands would usually say, ”If we help the youth, it would be nice and people would see our company as a good one!”. Youth development was viewed from a purely social perspective.
Looking at big brands from the customer perspective will however help us see reasons as to why brands must get involved in youth development. Every organization thrives majorly on its customer base and the larger the customer base, the larger the company’s chances of success.
An organization’s customers are basically in 4 dimensions.
- Those that can afford its products or services
- Those that cannot afford its services.
- Those that don’t want to afford or pay for its services.
- Those that the organization does not know whether they can afford its services or not, largely because they have not reached out to them.
The easiest and fastest way a big brand can get customer loyalty is to relate to a customer when they have not been discovered by another brand.
Take for instance, a fresh graduate with so much influence among his peers who does not have the resources to buy some of the products that an organization offers. At that moment, the graduate might not look like a customer that can build the customer base of the company. A big smart brand would however look at the trajectory and possibly project that the individual has a bright future going ahead and will go ahead to invest in him. They would provide opportunities that can help him discover his career path.
When he begins to earn money and the investments in him begins to pay off, customer loyalty will most likely set in. Chances are very high that he would not switch to another brand. He would even ensure his friends and family and his community members become regular users of the brand’s products.
It is important for big brands to connect to programmes and help young people to find alternatives to progress. Big brands must realise that Nigerian youths remain the largest demographic in our population and they are going to need them, if not now, then in the near future as customers. The truth is, nobody cares about the greatness of brands until they know how much the big brands themselves care. Products are no longer bought because of what they can do and advertising has gone way beyond the functionality of the product.
The new style is for advertising and proposition to go straight into what the consumer really wants. Questions like,”how does the functionality of the brand’s product help the consumer achieve what he wants?” should be asked by brands.
GETTING INTO THE YOUTH SPACE
Big brands must first realise that they need small businesses to get into the Youth Development space. They must leverage on small businesses to realise their Youth Development dream.
Carrying out their action plan for Youth development on their own would not work as they often times, they do not have much wisdom for the people at the bottom of the pyramid, in this case, the youth.
Here are three (3) reasons why Etisalat as a brand supported us when we were engaging with Youth Corps member in 2012. ”Why do you think we should get involved in your programme with NYSC?”, the Director queried. ‘’Give me 3 reasons’’, he went on further.
I responded thus:
1. That if there was any time Youth Corps members made life-altering decisions, it was during their service year. This was thus the perfect time to work on their psychological makeup through public and motivational speeches and make them discover themselves. These Corps members would most likely be loyal customers to a brand that supports and helps them develop themselves.
2. That while NYSC corps members were in school, they were dependent on their parents, a lot of them did not have money of their own. Their NYSC period however afforded them the opportunity to earn money and so they can thus solely make decisions as to what they do with the money they earn. Therefore if a youth Corps member makes the decision to buy an Etisalat line with his money, there is a high chance of customer loyalty setting in.
3. That the NYSC period also coincides with a time in which they can exert a whole lot of influence especially among their peers and in the communities where they are.
…AND FOR SMALL ORGANIZATIONS (NGOs, etc.)
Small organizations too have to invest in themselves before big brands and businesses will believe in them. At times, it could go as far as using your own personal funds to finance the business. Small organizations must also learn to create propositions and pitch them to big brands to invest in.
Big brands have the vision to make products, innovate great things and ultimately make money but they do not have the time to go and stay in the slums running projects for youth. They depend heavily on small brands for youth engagement and thus small brands must rise up to the challenge.
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MindtheGap: Investing in Great Minds to do Great Things.
Tayo Olosunde, MindTheGap 08099909995