Advertising 2023: It’s all about keeping up with the GenZ

With more of the kids these days coming into the workforce, having high disposable income and a larger say in how things are run, brands must listen to them or fail

by Shantanu David
Published - March 13, 2023
6 minutes To Read
Advertising 2023: It’s all about keeping up with the GenZ

You know you’ve reached a certain age when you start thinking “kids these days.” And not just people from older generations but brands too have been universally thinking this for a while now. Keeping up with the younger generation has become an absolute necessity for marketers these days.

And with more of the kids these days coming into the workforce, having high disposable income and a larger say in how things are run, through both wallet and voice, Industry: the brands, their curators and creators, agencies and reporters, products and services, all have to listen or fail the….

Vibe check

“Money is a means to an end for Gen Z and the ‘end’ is what brands need to focus their attention on,” opines Shashank Rawat, AVP, Strategy, Digitas India, adding, “When it comes to legacy brands, they need to learn how to pivot faster on their strategies as they’ll be in conversation with an audience which is not here for a full course meal but a quick delicious snack.”

“Are you providing them innovation like beauty D2C category is doing or are you teaching them about a necessity in their own grammar like neo banks (fi and simpl) are doing?” asks Rawat, saying that it’s important what brands engage Gen Z with rather than how they do it.

Brands, especially legacy brands, have already defined their ethos or what they stand for. Gen Z as consumers are still exploring who and what they stand for. This exploratory mindset makes them less loyal to brands and more loyal to ideologies. That’s why Ashish Tambe, ECD, Kinnect asserts that brands (especially legacy brands) need to analyse if 'who' and 'what' they stand for is still relevant in today's age and be ready to evolve.

“When a brand speaks their language, shares their beliefs and is not a snowflake (Gen Z term for walking the talk), it may have an edge on a competitor which sells products at the same price point. The foundational lesson for brands looking to engage Gen Z is thus making branding communication an important part of its marketing strategy,” he observes.

This means offering products and services that speak to a generation that grew up in an environment of talk media and visual programming. Having been exposed to a diverse, yet intrinsically connected, social and media landscape from the time they achieved object permanence, Generations Z, Alpha, and beyond are looking for something meaningful, unique but equitable. Meaning it’s time for brands to...

Glow up

“For a super independent, super charged and super connected generation; transparency and realness is one of the key factors to create a connection. Brands will have to figure out how to tell the same story in a new way: a new visual treatment, a new narrative with faces that are equally relatable and relevant to them,” says Priyanshi Shah, Creative Director-West, FoxyMoron (Zoo Media).

She says, brands also need to look at the sensorial delight they can give – multi-touchpoints and something that bridges the gap between the offline and online. “Nostalgia as a concept can be beautifully explored by brands given that the aesthetics, fashion trends and styles are all the rage, and here to stay. For a legacy brand to connect, cool-aborations with a much relevant, younger, insurgent brand can really help elevate their connection with Gen Z,” she says.

Besides, Raghav Bagai, co-founder of Sociowash, notes that Gen Z tend to care about the values of the company just as much as their products; brands need to be mindful of imbibing key concepts like ‘Diversity and being inclusive’.

“It is also vital to understand that this generation is born on fast-based technology and it is critical to seize their short attention span. Brands can achieve this by employing pictures for storytelling that will do wonders when they are raw and simple. On the other hand, digital natives have a relatively short attention span which can be targeted using short-form video content,” he says.

This does leave us to wonder though what will happen to the…

Old school

The new digitally native consumer demands that brands shift focus from traditional to digital mediums sooner, if not already. “When their Entertainment, Live Sports, Shopping, Dating, Eating and even Education have become digital, traditional and offline media will fall glaringly short of reaching this audience segment,” says Tambe.

He points out that while this audience has just entered with some disposable income and is already a segment of the consumer population, in due time, they will become primary consumers for various brands, which is when traditional media may get sidelined completely.

Indeed, some experts say that if Gen Z and Gen Alpha consumers refuse to adopt, interact and be involved in offline experiences in the future, the advertising media connected to these mediums will also become defunct in time.

Others have a kinder outlook. Rawat believes that traditional advertising will always remain a part of building the core of a brand because brands can spread themselves on digital but their personality can’t be built there.

“Having said that, traditional advertising will have to evolve itself in a way that brands don’t just work on propositions but on capturing online cultures for the brand (eg souled store), will have to build personalities not through just brand elements but a brands digital ambassadors as well (eg Puma India), and will have to create the brand world not by creating communication but hijacking a lot which wander on digital channels (eg duolingo).”

Shah believes that traditional/offline advertising will have no choice but to find ways to incorporate digital into their strategies. “Whether it’s a QR code on a billboard or an interactive booth at an offline event, the journey of offline to online will have to be mapped accordingly to make the experience seamless.”

Apoorv Bhatnagar, Co-founder, The Plug Media, also believes that traditional media will never be completely irrelevant. “The need is to be creatively tackled with smart copy and engaging formats. The idea is to make it sound and look cool enough for them to post about it on digital. That’s when you know it resonated with them.”

As Shah concludes, “Brands might also have to change the narrative or a TVC storyboard to make it more digital, vertical and GenZ friendly with a much more targeted and customized and varied media strategy which now includes the likes of Spotify, Tinder or even a WeTransfer as a platform.” Sounds…