Decoding brand tactics for marketing to Generation Z: Deepak Choudhary

The current age demands connection. They can be provoked by transforming them into buyers or at least having them contemplate on the purchase. It is impossible to simply reach out to our target group today with a simple TVC or print ad. The job of a marketer gets tougher as the Millennials rise in numbers and importance. Moreover, Generation X has become Generation Y and the ‘Millennials’ are growing up. To figure a brand strategy for the new generation, it is crucial to understand who the new generation is and what interests them.

Marketers these days have begun to shift focus on to ‘Gen Z’ – the next major consumer group comprising teenagers below the age of 19. Gen Z can be defined as those consumers with birth years ranging from the mid- to late 1990s through the 2010s or alternately ranging from the early 2000s through the early 2020s.  It goes without any argument that the millennial are considered to be like the Holy Grail for numerous brands. While the Millennial continue to be an important market for most companies, a new purchasing powerhouse, that is, the new Gen Z is demanding this attention.

The Generation Z is known to be comfortable with technology and engage on social media platforms for a significant portion of time in terms of socialising. This is the generation which has grown up having complete access to the Internet and technology. They are digital natives, and it’s tougher for brands to woo this group and win their loyalty, love and income. Combine this influence with the fact that they make up nearly 30 per cent of the population in India and you’ve got more than enough reasons to start paying attention to them.

Just like with the Millennials, companies need to discover how to genuinely connect with Gen Z to build trust and loyalty. Even if Gen Z isn’t your current target audience, they will soon be – and the best time to grab their attention is now.

I consider Generation Z the ‘insider trading’ of what’s trending. They create trends. They create movements. They care about what’s going on in the world, and they believe that they can make that difference.

Here are three key lessons from Generation Z that brands can learn from:

Born in the Digital Age: Gen Z may be the most socially savvy group marketers will ever meet, with 81 per cent of teenagers on social media, 93 per cent of Gen Z say they visit YouTube at least once a week, and 54 per cent visit the site multiple times throughout the day. Gen Z also uses Twitter (26 per cent), Google+ (26 per cent), and Instagram (17 per cent) on a weekly basis, but less often. With mobile-only, disposable media networks, brands need to create shorter form content – whether it’s a video or an animated image – that is tailored to each social platform.

When marketing to teenagers and juniors, brands are the most digitally adept retailers online. Social media is where they start conversations that carry customers into purchase. Marketers establish a dialogue between the brand and its customers because they learned where they spent their time online.

Empower them to do things themselves: According to a recent survey, 76 per cent of Gen Z want to turn their hobbies into a business. For Gen Z, it’s all about going their own way, starting their own company, or creating a new product without waiting for permissions, the right skills, an academic degree or even years of work experience.

They do not look at their future as a perfect shiny opportunity to become a doctor or lawyer and have great healthcare; they are looking across the world, at their peers, they connect via Snapchat, WhatsApp, etc., and engage to have deeper and globalised connections. They witness different cultures, foods, stories, experiences and want to be a part of it all.

Self-reliance and empowerment are the key elements of engagement. And marketers will need to speak this language to be successful. Brands should give customers the tools to learn, or experience things themselves.

Building a Community: Gen Z, even more than their Gen Y counterparts, travel across digital mediums. It’s hence important for brands to travel with them. Brands will need to master platform-specific tactics for a variety of channels, ensuring maximum engagement with their target audience.

They want to show the world that they want to stay in the space the past generations have created for them, and that they have the ability to shape their future. They clearly are not interested in listening to those who ‘messed it all up’.

Let’s have a look at how such integration works. For instance, if a brand’s overall goal is to create brand awareness, a cross-platform strategy takes this overarching concept one step further by developing platform-specific tactics. The tactic for reaching customers might change, but the overall message should remain consistent – regardless of the platform. It should still be easily recognised as an extension of the overall brand.

As generations evolve and become more proficient with technology, brands must devolve in order to make one-on-one connections.

From Gen Z, I learned that with the exposure they receive they know more than adults do and that they need to be tapped in an entirely different mechanism. They understand. They do not want to be sold to and they want to be a part of the process. They want to experience what they are purchasing, choosing, or be a part of what is created for them.

Deepak Choudhary is Founder, EMDI, Eventfaqs and Event Capital. As a first-generation entrepreneur passionate about education, Choudhary has been instrumental in creating companies, working on funding strategies and diversified business opportunities for successful start-ups in a span of 12 years.


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