Say hello to Generation Z! Brands’ focus are currently shifting from millennials to GenZers, stirring a controversial dilemma on whether this consumer group is really influential or just an exaggerated version of millennials. We’ve exclusively interviewed Sasan Saeidi, CEO of JWT Gulf , for his take on what Gen Z are looking for in a brand. 

BB:Change is the new constant. That being said, staying relevant and becoming adaptable have become crucial brand differentiators. In your opinion, how can brands stay true to their DNA and sustain growth while embracing change and maintaining relevance ?

SS: Change is the new constant is the perfect statement that represents our society, our economical ecosystem, our work and employment, our daily schedules, and so many other attributes around our lives. All these life attributes change, but our human values remain the same. At-least they should. Brands also have values. These values act as the north star of the brand. They keep the brand honest, consistent, relevant and immune to indifference. Values also ensure the brand evolves but remains true to itself.

Sasan Saeidi

BB: Millennials aside, the next breed of consumers are here and accounting for a significant chunk of the buying power,Gen Z. In a nutshell, how would you describe the fundamental characteristics of their behaviour towards brands ? What are their drivers ? and what influences their buying decisions ?

SS: There is a difference between GenZ and Millennials. I have a millennial son and live their ethos everyday. GenZ is more responsible, entrepreneurial global, they are big on individuality, less focused and great multitaskers. Beyond all they are realist. Which means they expect a lot from promises and take things for what they are. They like straight talk, they don’t like fine print and facts impacts their shopping decisions.  They appreciate transparency beyond all and mobile is their tool for all their answers. Not computers. 

BB: Gen Z are known to be ‘digital natives’. How can bands of today design an effective engagement strategy with such a digital-savvy consumer group ?

SS:Yes they are native in every sense; they prefer mobile over anything; and are very comfortable with brand interaction on this platform. I think mobile should be the first and perhaps the most important medium to consider for this TA.

Let’s not sell them advertising; instead interact with them through content platforms. 

  • Make your content interactive, and ensure you get them involved.
  • They are big on UGC.
  • They like influencers that are authentic so when its right use them to your advantage.
  • Use new tech when applicable; don’t force it. Meaning use tech for the sake of your idea and not for the sake of novelty. They know more about tech than a lot of people.

BB: How brands can seduce Generation Z ? What they’re looking for in a brand ?

SS: It’s not about seduction, more about friendship. More about an honest companion. This generation is so smart and so information rich that the idea of seduction with-out authenticity is meaningless. Be real and they will be attracted to you.

BB: Gen Z are attracted to brands that are purposeful and conscious. Can you mention some ins and outs for brands to stay relevant to this newly-bred consumer group ?

SS: Brand purpose and brand dharma are key. Do good for the social ecosystem; stand for a cause and ensure you make difference beyond profits. Don’t get me wrong; they like money more than their previous generation as they like to explore; buy things and be first. So money and making money is of clear importance for them; but brands need to show that that’s not all they want for the experience.

BB: Can you mention three brands from our region who you consider as hallmarks in building brand relevance with Gen Z ?

SS: Youtube, Nike, Vans, Apple just to name a few are real benchmarks on how they have targeted Gen Z and their aspirations. It’s all about experiences and these brands know how to create one and how to sustain one- which is even more important.

BB: One of the challenges that face brands when trying to be relevant with Gen Z is that their favorite brands are also shared by older generations. How can brands appeal to Gen Z and at the same time don’t lost other loyal consumer groups ?

SS: I think the content and material that Gen Z consume and find appealing is different than the baby boomers or Gen x for example. So for me it goes back to the story narrative and who you are talking to. A brand can have multiple audiences that consume media differently. Hence its path to purchase and messaging needs to be very different.