Flux Trends researcher Khumo Theko forecasts the new wave for business, culture and society.
Flux Trends is dedicated to identifying macro trends that influence socio, political and economic landscapes. Sifting through large amounts of data, they extract the most relevant information and condense it into neat, easy-to-digest packages which are presented as business strategy. Here, Khumo discusses the new Consciously Diverse tribes, which touch on gender, race and culture. Femmetrepreneurs
Neo-feminism is playing out in different sectors globally and women have created networks that are empowering each other. In China, for example, they have the ‘She-conomy’, which features the highest number of self-made female billionaires. Locally, the ‘woman era’ is not just calling for equality, but empowerment through self-appreciation, self-love and representation. Think of businesses like Sibahle Dolls and Ntombenhle Dolls, these were created to show young black girls in SA that they are beautiful, too. The conversation around equality for women, in various industries, is growing. We’ll also see a new light shed on the concepts of equal pay and pink tax (the extra costs women are charged for certain products and services). Women’s rights, in general, are now being brought to the fore-front.
These are the conscious consumers. We’re seeing a demographic that’s pushing to live a sustainable life, and it’s happening in different spectrums. From the one spectrum exist the minimalists, who are downsizing their material goods and cleaning out their closets. This group lives more for experience than material. They’re travelling and immersing themselves in different cultures – living only off of what is necessary. On another spectrum exists the food cleansers. Three million people have chosen to be vegetarian, while half a million have declared themselves vegans. This way of life has gained a lot of momentum in SA, particularly in Cape Town, where more vegan restaurants, like Raw and Roxy and Plant, are emerging. The life that millennials are trying to live has changed because their finances aren’t the same as previous generations. They have student loans, are struggling to find employment and can’t afford to live on their own. They’re also being more conscious of global warming and climate change.
African millennials are recreating the narrative of the African continent. Rapper Khuli Chana’s ‘One Source’ music video featured a collaboration of different artists from the continent and explored the concept of AfroFuturism, a motif we also saw in the successful Marvel film Black Panther. The likes of Sho Madjozi and Trevor Stuurman are among the artists who add a freshness to the African creative economy, too. There’s also more of a consciousness in identity and we see the effects of this in the push of black women going natural. It’s not only about rocking your natural hair, but looking at how to make natural products for your body as well. Afro-pride is becoming more prevalent, both locally and for those in the diaspora. However, brands who try to appropriate this movement are being publicly called out, as was the case with Zara in April. The retailer caused widespread outrage when they released a line of socks which featured a design that was viewed as being too similar to those belonging to Maxhosa by Laduma.
These are Millennial and Gen Z entrepreneurs who are creating businesses that cater to the ‘spirit of the time’ – referring to inclusivity. At just 10, Kheris Rogers, from the US, created a T-shirt range called Flexing in my Complexion, after she was bullied at school for having dark skin. She is now the youngest designer to show at New York Fashion Week. Big brands are also starting to take their activism to the next level. Black Label’s ‘No Excuse’ campaign last year was an effort to raise awareness for gender-based violence, while earlier this year, Castle Lager released a statement announcing the removal of the labels on their beer bottles in order to “stand in solidarity with all those who are unfairly labelled on a daily basis”. It’s important that brands are sincere when they go this route. Last year, Pepsi received a lot of backlash for the ad they aired featuring model Kendall Jenner, in what looked like a suggestion of police brutality being easily resolved with a can of their soft drink. They eventually pulled the ad, apologised and lost millions.
Brands are starting to cater to the female audience more when it comes to fitness. In 2016, Nike had a marketing expenditure of more than $804 million (R10.8 billion) and they want to grow it to $11 billion (R148 billion) by 2020. Many women are even exercising while they’re pregnant. Videos of Nkateko ‘Takkies’ Maswanganye performing in heels while seven months along went viral and were even shared internationally. Other ‘fitfluential’ women like Letshego Zulu are also breaking the stereotype, showing that you can be athletic and a mom at the same time. Letshego also encourages women to get out there and work out using nontraditional alternatives, like Popupgym, which she cofounded in 2017. Bodypositivity is a huge factor when it comes to the new wave of fitness bunnies. Women like Boity Thulo and Sibahle Mpisane show that you can be healthy and still maintain your curves.