According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s statistics, as at the last general elections in 2015, when there were 95.8 million registered voters, the youth population (between ages 18-35) constituted about 63% of the electorate. As of today, the population commission posits Nigeria’s population to be over 198 million, more than half of which are reported to be under age 30.
While the youth population of the Nigerian electorate keeps increasing by the day and gaining ascendancy in the socioeconomic strata across the globe, it is surprising why African statesmen don’t go all out to engage them or farm the vast potential they represent for political capital. Most politicians don’t deploy research and purpose in the way they engage the young generations in their campaign, preferring to go the old, conventional route instead.
Call them Generation Y, the Net Generation, the Millennial Generation, iGeneration (iGen), Gen Tech, Gen Wii, Net Gen, Digital Natives or Plurals, they are now a major force and voice all over the world and are gradually dominating the workplace and other spaces. Realizing their importance in the marketplace, researchers in various disciplines – psychology, sociology, human resource, organizational – have been busy examining the mental conditioning and peculiar attributes of this emerging powerhouse with a mind to knowing how best to engage them toward achieving set goals and harness their resources for optimal productivity.
Notwithstanding, the average Nigerian politician still runs his political campaign in much the same way they’ve always done; investing huge sums in printing posters, promotional items, organising rallies as well as producing radio jingles and TV commercials. And, as is now common in our clime, paying huge amounts through foot soldiers across various wards to buy votes. Apart from this egregious latter, the conventional modes are not bad in themselves, as they have proven in securing votes for the highest spender or the most popular candidate. However, in this digital age, most of these conventional methods will not appeal to the millennial nor earn a politician much electoral capital among the digital natives.
The iGen is a generation known for its restlessness, tech-savvy and apparent departures from the previous generations in their operations and media consumption habits. Also well documented are their preferences for cool stuff, edgy campaigns and eagerness to co-create cultures.
Traditional marketing doesn’t click for them. That is why you see marketers adapting their game by embracing technology and new ways of communication to get their attention. They mostly respond to visual marketing tactics, with a preference for short videos created via social networks. They are equally different from the yore generations in the devices they use and how much media content they consume.
So, how do you target the Net Gen in your political campaign? This will be discussed in detail in the second part of this article. But to set the ball rolling, an excerpt from a market research conducted in the US offers an insight into the thinking of digital natives and, perhaps, how to latch on to their psychology for political marketing gains:
What we’ve uncovered in our research is that this is a generation of CCs (Culture Creators) that are redefining entertainment, consumption, the workplace and marketing. The CCs are empowered, connected, empathetic self-starters that want to stand out and make a difference in the world. They have created a new Cultural Currency that values uniqueness, authenticity, creativity, shareability and recognition. What’s different for this generation is not as simple as the internet or technology. Technology is an important component, but what’s changed is this generation’s relationship with culture.
We will look at some of the specifics of how to engage with and understand this interesting generation of voters in the concluding part of this feature next week.
Babatunde is the team lead at TRW Consult, a marketing communications agency with core offerings in contents, event marketing, cause marketing, political marketing, brand promotion and reputation management.