What generation Z wants

Figuring out what clicks with the savviest audience, living in a world of pandemic complexities

During the last few months, the buying patterns and preferences of consumers has experienced a huge shift. Marketers working from home are also faced with an unprecedented situation.

Brand communication is in a soup, amid this infodemic that we are in. However, there are a few questions that arise in a situation like this – How should we be communicating with our customers? Which platforms/mediums should the marketing monies be invested in? What strategies should be adopted for reaching the right target audience?

Full disclosure, I write this piece as a functioning member of the Generation Z culture, as we call it. Trying to figure out what matters to us and what doesn’t; how brands should reach us, and understand some values which are important to us. While we are looking at a new normal for our society, it is also important to discuss how we should reform brand communication.

Empathy as a Core Value

This pandemic has uprooted old ways of functioning for all of us.

The ‘new normal’ has resulted in consumers shifting to new ways of engaging with products and services. The younger audience, particularly, is microscopically reviewing brands that walk the talk and are looking to create a positive impact in the society.

However, a key learning here, is to not hard sell your brands at this time.

Brands are expected to initiate purpose-driven communication. Amidst the lockdown, people are inclined towards absorbing positive stories. Companies should look at revisiting their core values and see how best they can become positive catalysts and also remain in the current conversations.

It is a time to reconnect with customers and relearn about their experience. Brands should empathetically listen to problems and changing needs, and then act on them to build lasting consumer trust.

The time for Digital is now

While marketers have long been using the buzz words such as new media, integration, phygital and so on, this pandemic, has pushed brands to upgrade their businesses, in ways  that enables everybody to connect, buy, exchange and pay, all digitally.

There is enough evidence that suggests online surfing has increased steeply during the lockdown; and brands that were equipped digitally, stand to gain a lot from this scenario. People will continue to be hesitant of their social movements even after we have overcome this crisis. Hence, providing new digital experiences that make our lives easier will be of essence.

Brands should also remain updated on their social media to stay relevant. Since most customer complaints and redressals happen on social platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook – brand communicators and customer care teams should have increased focus towards social listening and extensive, relevant communication via these platforms to stay in touch.

Employing social platforms tactfully, engaging with the hearts of key stakeholders and moving people emotionally to support recovery and renewal will play a key role in how we perceive brands here forward.

Simplify and Unify

Keep it simple. It is not that hard.

Simple examples can be taken from brands like Louis Vuitton, who were the first to shift their production lines and make hand sanitisers for local hospitals, or Starbucks, which decided to provide free coffee to frontline workers who were working long hours, due to the pandemic.

Brands must come forward to take upon the moral responsibility of being the flagbearers of positive change in the society. We all must do what we can, individually and collectively.

We are not just a local community, but we identify as a global one. Community and positivity are important to us as humans, and we are wired to seek out connections. While social distancing comes as a safe solution, it has a significant impact on our basic behaviour, that is so dependent on the sense of touch and belongingness.

Brands must nurture and empower their audience with this sense of community, to bring together like-minded individuals and promote innovation.

As we tide this crisis behind us, it is crucial we set our eyes on the second half. It is important that we stick together, debate pressing issues and find new tools of collaboration so that when we are out of this, we are stronger together.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Rutwik Nalawade
Rutwik Nalawade is a communications professional at one of India’s most reputed creative agencies. He has an academic background in Journalism and Media Communication and has recently completed his Post-Graduation Diploma in Public Relations and Corporate Communication from Xavier Institute of Communications, Mumbai. He bears a demonstrated experience in public relations, corporate communication, client servicing and writing. Also an avid blogger, photographer and a movie buff in his free time.

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