We are the youth
The issues that matter to young voters

The upcoming NSW election highlights the key issues for young people – and brands should take note.

With over 5.5 million people soon headed to the polls, the news cycle will be increasingly dominated by political fodder, making it particularly difficult for businesses without a clear strategy to make an impact with their communications.

While brands looking to target younger consumers may think they’re immune to the issue, Gen Z and Millennials constitute 39 per cent of NSW voters.

It is for this reason that the newly-formed NSW Youth Alliance, consisting of Youth Action NSW, Multicultural Youth Affairs Network (MYAN) NSW, YFoundations and the Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP), hosted the NSW Election Forum this week. Involving major political parties, sector leaders, and young people, the forum discussed what matters to Gen Z and Millennials.

ATYP is IMPACT’s pro-bono client, and Nicole Webb, IMPACT CEO, was proud to be in attendance.

According to a poll commissioned by Youth Action, 67 per cent of young people reported being registered to vote because they believed ‘voting is important’, indicating a desire to truly engage with the political process.

The poll, which surveyed more than 1,000 people aged 16 to 24 years across NSW, provides useful insight into the concerns of young voters at this time. These issues, while no doubt influencing their preferences, extend far beyond politics and should be kept in mind by companies when speaking to this audience.


What really matters

It can be easy to disregard the concerns of young consumers. What could they possibly have to be worried about? Well, plenty, it turns out:

Cost of living: Youth Action’s poll reports that the top issue for young people is the rising cost of living, with particular emphasis on food and groceries and rent, followed by utilities and car expenses.

Employment: Of survey respondents, 40 per cent noted work as a key issue – unsurprising, given the rate of unemployment for this demographic is more than double the average (7.8 per cent versus 3.5 per cent). Youth Action’s Bearing the Brunt report shares that while young people make up 14 per cent of the workforce, they suffered 39 per cent of job losses during the pandemic, and many have not recovered.

Climate change: As the victims of climate change, young people have reason to worry – and 37 per cent of respondents listed it in their top three concerns. According to Our World, Our Say, Australia’s largest consultation with youth on climate change and disaster risk, more than 90 per cent had experienced at least one natural hazard event in the past three years.


Being heard

Representing 39.5 per cent of the population, and accounting for 36 per cent of total retail spend in Australia, Gen Z and millennials are a huge share of the market, and brands are well aware. With businesses vying for their attention – and a share of their wallet – it is essential that messaging, and the media through which it is distributed, is targeted and hits the right note.

For brands who want to speak to younger audiences, consider the following:


1. Appreciate their context

With increased pressure on finances, and concern regarding ability to generate income, young people’s view on spending has been moulded by the pandemic and economic crises. Frivolous purchases are off the agenda, but this doesn’t mean that discretionary spend has been eliminated. Instead, brands must work harder to communicate the value of their offering, drawing on themes of quality, experience and practicality.

2. Pique their interest(s)

Driven by a passion for environmental and social responsibility, Gen Z in particular are oriented towards companies that demonstrate ethical values and appeal to a desire for individuality. Brands that show genuine commitment to sustainability, and who can communicate their uniqueness stand a better chance of cutting through.

3. Go to them           

No matter how well-crafted your communications, your messaging will not be heard unless you bring it to them. In terms of overall media consumption, Gen Z consume less media than older millennials and Gen X audiences, but the share of online media they consume is higher than all other demographics (67.7 per cent). For younger audiences, broadcast media has been eschewed in favour of authentic, one-to-one experiences, whether through email and ecommerce personalisation, or video (TikTok and YouTube).


If you want to learn more about what makes youth audiences tick, or to find out about IMPACT’s audience profiles, get in touch with Nicole today at nicole@impactagency.com.au.  

Other News