3 ways to tap the crucial Gen Z audience

Gen Z are critical to the socio-economic fabric of the society. Being digital natives, they are highly individualistic, expressive, and prefer meaningful engagement with a brand. Here are three ways brands can capture their attention

Madhav Sheth
Updated: Feb 18, 2022 07:46:33 PM UTC
According to Bank of America research, 9 out of 10 Gen Z live in emerging markets like India, and they are expected to contribute more than a quarter to the world's income by 2031

I believe that consumers have always been the most potent source of change and innovation in any given era. Consider the 1980s, for example. The desire for mobility drove consumers to seek an untethered and personalised experience. Hence, the decade witnessed the first boom of the portable electronics revolution with the all-pervasive Walkman. In a certain sense, young consumers at that time acted as ‘influencers’, before the term was even formally coined. Donning the trendy new gadget, they championed the Walkman across different cultural and social walks of life.

We have a new generation of influencers and decision-makers known as Gen Z, who are critical to the socio-economic fabric of society. Being digital natives from a very early age, they are highly individualistic, expressive, and prefer meaningful engagement with a brand. According to Bank of America research, 9 out of 10 Gen Z live in emerging markets like India, and they are expected to contribute more than a quarter to the world's income by 2031. The tried and tested approach simply does not work for them. To deliver lifelong value, we have to dare to be different.

Build your tribe and co-create 

As I said earlier, consumers are the most potent source of innovation. Co-creation is not just a one-time process of monitoring feedback for product improvement. It’s a long-term commitment. Through continuous pulse checks, online community engagement, fan meets, youth events, consumers are consistently encouraged to share their ideas and recommendations on building products and experiences for the future. In consumer electronics, it can range from creating distinct visual aesthetics, 5G applications in AR/VR, to flagship features like flash charging technologies. The possibilities are truly immense. Besides guiding product development, consumer insight can also influence after-sales service and store experience. I believe that the journey of innovation truly takes flight when you co-create with your customers.

Anticipate the next normal

To appeal to the GenZ, one must break out of existing boxes. Having consumed a vast amount of information through multiple digital channels and engaged with like-minded enthusiasts around the world, Gen Z has developed keener tastes and aspirations. They want access to avant-garde technologies which empower them with unparalleled convenience and power. 2021 was the year when nanoscale 5G processors and high-pixel cameras were democratised in the mid-range segment due to massive demand from youth. While earlier, they used to be just a privilege of the premium category. In 2022, there will be greater demand for exclusive technologies at more universal price points. As 5G networks proliferate in the next normal, users will also demand more connected, unified experiences with AI and IoT-driven apps and smartphones serving as command centres. The evolving preferences of users require brands to continuously challenge themselves and innovate.

Foster an omnichannel experience

The digitally prolific Gen Z is active on multiple channels and devices to stay engaged with a brand. Instead of just restricting their experience to an app or website, such consumers prefer to stay connected through different touch-points like push notifications, emails, social media channels, physical stores, and more. Many B2C industries, especially smartphones, are experimenting with the idea of hyperlocal delivery for online to offline solutions. Customers can use WhatsApp to connect with retailers, view catalogues, place their orders and receive same-day delivery of products, after which they can pay digitally. As an added layer of personalisation, buyers can clear queries about product features, warranty, after-sales services in real-time with the retailer. A truly diverse omnichannel experience fuses virtual and physical worlds for a more seamless and connected journey.

In a post-Covid-19 landscape, the youth seek empathy, transparency, and honesty. They want brands to stand up for just causes, care for the users and environment, rather than just chase the bottom lines. Ecological and sustainable initiatives, community development efforts, and job creation are just a few of the parameters that rank high on their agenda. Many brands are going back to the drawing board to revisit their core values and build a strong, humane connection. It is imperative that we not only preach but also walk the talk and cover the last mile by embracing social responsibility wholeheartedly.

The writer is VP-realme and CEO-realme India and Europe.

The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.

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