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Why you should listen to the GenZ

Our markets are changing at the speed of light, with new demographics and innovations disrupting the continuum. The Generation Z is a prime example of the untapped potential of the market. The generation, famously associated with angst and questionable fashion choices, has become an important demographic in itself. There was a time for marketing for children was path-breaking. Indicative of the change in the cultural zeitgeist, we now have brands specifically for children. Major brands, especially luxury clothes makers, have an entire line marketed towards the children. With information overload and a rising sense of identity, the Gen Z pose a major challenge to the marketers. It is truly a testament to the times that a demographic with no real purchasing power has become a very strong influential group. They have their own trends that run parallel and sometimes, against the market. Their marketing channels are different and so are their purchase patterns. It is high time we cease the clear demarcations between adults and children and focus on the adolescent group.

A new language

To market, the first thing you need to know is what to say and then how to say it. The Gen Z have their own language that unites them across nations and religions. As a marketer, you have to be aware of these developments in order to design your message. Words like woke, lit, bae, YOLO are all examples of their unique lexicon. However, the words lose their appeal soon and brands must keep up. In May 2018, Subway Canada tweeted a poll to “pick your subway bae”, it had zero responses despite their following of 135,000 followers. The reason that while bae was trendy in 2012, it has now been kicked out of the Genz dictionary. The campaign was seen as a shallow attempt to cater to the teenagers. This is precisely why a marketer must listen to the GenZ so the brand does not alienate the very group wishes to engage with. These are more than slangs, it is the very means of communication for them and if the brand wants to join the conversation, it should know the language.

Enter their habitat

This may sound obvious yet so many get this wrong. The Gen Z lives in the digital space, its entire world exists between the optic fibers and the rectangular screens. A campaign that is not specifically designed for this medium will not hold any value for them. Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media platforms are your main channels of communication. Customising each to suit the grammar of the medium is what will endear the brand to the target audience. We must also remember that what are trends and innovations for us is the norm for them. Usergenerated content, influencer marketing maybe market trends for the marketers. However, for the teenagers, there has been no other alternative

and this is the normal order of the day. For example, when they order online, they will look at photos, reviews, and feedback from other users before them prior to making a decision. Hence, it is not just about what you tell them but also about what tell each other.

Are you woke?

The current generation of teenagers is more socially aware than their predecessors. They are looking for brands that are more than their products. Marketers cannot hope to entice them with models, glossy campaigns and a general lack of social issues. There is a reason why campaigns by Dove on beauty not being skin deep did so well among the people. It spoke about a higher cause even though it is a cosmetics brand. They are looking for value in your brand. They are the data-at-a-click generation who will not respond to superficial sales tactics. They hold a very strong allegiance to the environment, animal welfare, equality and other social issues. The campaign will fall flat if the brand is seen violating these core values. Another vital shift is the use of real people as opposed to the airbrushed models. The GenZ hold no aspirational value as they grew up in an era where everything was a click away. They are looking for inspirational value though. They want to see how the brand is good for them, in their ordinary lives and engage more deeply with brands that “keep it real”. Another factor that has contributed to the decline of the aspirational value is the information-rich age. All celebrities enjoy a healthy social media presence where they share all aspects of their lives. Thus, we know everything there is to know about them, there is a sense of too much exposure that dilutes their presence in a campaign. When teenagers see their posts almost every day, there is a sense of fatigue and using a slice of life breaks that monotony.

The GenZ is more than another in the line of alphabets denoting a generation, it is a generational shift. It is the first generation who have grown up entirely in the digital age and are changing the way brands speak to their audience. In many ways, they are redefining the way the market communicates with their audience. Despite the plethora of data available on them, most marketers find it difficult to engage with them due to the multiplicity of their demographic. Hence, it has become imperative that we listen to them- their language, their preferences and most importantly, what they stand for. We have to make them a part of the narrative instead of just advertising to them. It is seen that brands that include the audience fare better. For example, YouTube claims that it is here to “give people a voice”, a strategy that has made it one of the most loved platforms. In fact, it has created an entire cadre of celebrities that owe their success to it. Thus, if we are to truly tap the massive potential in the GenZ, we have to become a part of their world before we make them a part of ours.


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