78% of South African respondents who regularly post online revealed they post content to help bring about social change – the highest score of any other market

South African Gen Zs are leading other generations on the path to impactful social change – as the general population is more concerned about the state of our country than themselves.

This is according to the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: The New Cascade of Influence  Twitter Spaces event that was held on 9 November. The report surveys people from 14 countries across the world – with more than 14,000 respondents – and has revealed there’s a new core demographic that is driving a disruptive change in the buying power of consumers across current and future consumers. But this behaviour is not limited to what consumers buy, but also how they live and what they believe. This is evidenced by an average of 60% of South African respondents who claim to be influenced by  teens and college-aged people in what they buy, and 49% who say they’re influenced by this cohort in how they actively create change – in other words, the ways in which they commit to social activism.

“In the past, we’ve underplayed the power of Gen Z, but our data shows that they’re the ones who are going to unlock societal action and activism at scale – even among older demographics. And in South Africa, they’re going to continue to use social media as a political and social activism tool. Gen Z are powered, not paralysed by fear,” says Sanesh Maharaj, head of Brand at Edelman South Africa.

The Twitter Spaces event, hosted by Edelman Africa, will unpack these new findings, alongside some of South Africa’s most influential Gen Z’s, brand advocates, and industry experts. Including:

  • Sanesh Maharaj, Head of Brand at Edelman South Africa
  • Rosie Delk, Research Analyst at Edelman DxI
  • Sphelele Mjadu, Senior Public Relations Manager at Unilever
  • Babazile Mbetse, Group Head of Public Relations at Liberty
  • Aya Mhlongo, marketing at SHOWFAR Tech

The report’s data showed that while respondents in other markets who post regularly were less likely to use social media and their own content as a means to change the world, 78% of South African respondents revealed they post content to help bring about social change – the highest score of any other market.

“It’s for this reason that we’ve chosen to release these important findings through a social media event. We want to make this as accessible as possible and meet this generation where they are, so we can hear their voices. By sharing the data and intelligence we have on Gen Z, we hope that this will facilitate a better understanding of this generation of consumers who are demanding authentic, positive behavioural change in the corporate, brand, and communications space,” says Maharaj.

“For several years now, our Trust data has shown that this generation has a strong connection with trust in brands. Building trust with this audience has been proven to secure brands’ relationships with future consumers,” he says.

Some of the report’s other findings, which will be discussed by our panellists at the launch of the report:

  • 86% of South Africans surveyed say they are concerned about the country’s future– tied with Mexico and second in concern only to Brazilian respondents at 92%
  • 53% South Africans engage in belief-driven brand choices, though this increases to 66% among Gen Z respondents.
  • Nearly 1 in 3 South Africans are boycotting brands that still do business with Russia in the wake of the Ukraine-Russia conflict.
  • 68% of South Africans say that teenagers and university-aged people (Gen Z) are influencing how they get their news.
  • 71% of Gen Z respondents say they want to work with brands to address societal issues such as climate change, poverty, racism, information quality, and gender inequality.

If you would like to attend the Edelman Africa launch event for The New Cascade of Influence, please contact jhb-trust2022@edelman.com or visit @EdelmanAfrica


Media Contact:

Chloe Payne


072 673 0535

About the Edelman Trust Barometer:

The 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer is our 22nd annual trust and credibility survey. The survey was powered by Edelman Data & Intelligence (DxI) and consisted of 30-minute online interviews conducted between November 1 and November 24, 2021, across 28 countries and more than 36000 respondents. Each year, the barometer determines the levels of trust in four major institutions: Government, Media, NGOs and Business.