Marketers need to become enablers for new-age consumers who design their lives based on what they love.
They are defined by digital. They fight for their freedom. They seek experiences that enrich life. They live in the moment and for the moment. They don’t break boundaries because they aren’t limited by them. Call them millennials or new-age or by any other tag, it doesn’t matter. They drop the tags for cool hashtags. For they define themselves and design their lives based on what they love.
So, for this generation, roti, kapda, makaan will not work as a formula. We need to dig deeper and see what motivates them and how they see their future. Brands, employers and other providers need to go beyond their products, services and offerings, and bring about fulfilment of life purpose beyond survival for this lot.
Driven by their individualistic expression and aspirations, they will not stop at something just because it has not been done before. They go all out, have a huge appetite for risk and a fiery passion in their hearts. All set to make the 9 to 5 job a relic of the past, this generation will fearlessly choose workplace flexibility over salary and savings; a disposable income that allows them to spend over what they love and enjoy is way more important than chalking out an insurance plan.
Their identity comes above all else. From the shoes they wear and multiple careers they juggle to social scenes they are a part of, or the people they follow on social media — this generation knows what it wants and is not bothered by the fact that these wants are constantly changing. They craft their own lifestyle based on what brings them fulfilment.
Real, distinct and relatable
They do not look up to celebrities or conventional stereotypes. They want something that is real and distinct. Brands that break the clutter, like Nike and Airbnb, connect with this generation effectively. What’s more, their brand of politics is also different. Netas and bureaucrats are passé; bring on the Justin Trudeaus and Shashi Tharoors of the world because these guys are distinct and challenge the status quo without hesitation.
They like Alia Bhatt and DJ Khaled alike, because these icons are real and relatable. With the mammoth growth of internet purchases over the last five-six years, e-commerce created an explosion of wealth for a host of new and very young entrepreneurs. All around the world, self-made millionaires below the age of 30 who built new businesses with revenues in millions of dollars have become their new role models. They like people who shatter the system. A new-found purpose is what grabs their attention.
A generation that has grown up with digital technology at their fingertips, they welcome digital currencies and blockchain technology with open arms. Cryptocurrencies are now a household name and no longer synonymous with just bitcoin anymore. The digitally advanced generation fuelling this trend has inspired new-age entrepreneurs to educate themselves, create start-ups and thereby generate opportunities for themselves.
Speaking of which, another visible change in the era of digital disruption is a highly mobile workforce. While a trend that is still nascent in India, the traditional job market is seeing a gradually increasing number of highly-skilled young professionals opting for independent work gigs by choice — be it freelancers, consultants or contractors.
Setting the trend
For brands to target these folks, there is no one-size-fits-all model. Niche experiences, stories, interactions and openness are what work more than any theory. The game has changed and is continuing to change by the minute because they are comfortable with constant change. They embrace it and are agile enough to adopt it. Traditions are archaic; setting trends is trending. There are communities within the community.
From short lingo to a seamless fusion of languages, the way they speak has changed. As brands and agencies, we need look at them from a fresh lens. We need to talk to them through visuals and videos. Give them the platform to make their dent in the universe, from something as simple or funny as a meme. They are savvy and curious, and that is a great blend to work with. The digital medium is an open ground to tap into this audience. They will consume your content, process your message and take it to the next level if they find it inspiring. So, fuel your brand with purpose, enable the younger lot to change the world, and you have their attention and loyalty.
It’s the era of the next hippie movement. This lot is ready to challenge the status quo. The era of the ‘60s and ‘70s is back. They are rebelling current choices available without being impolite. Doctors/engineers and professionals are being challenged by newly created opportunities. They aren’t chasing the next house or the next car but the next experience.
My advice to all brands would be to get the younger lot to create your brand story. Get them to write on the walls of your story. Give them the open hand to contribute and make them inclusive in totality to create. Crowdsourced product and identity has faster chances of acceptance than outward monologues. Instead of shouting aloud, “I am a brand which resonates” and force your brand ethos on them, I recommend that you let them see you as a platform of enablement.
When I asked my teenage son which car he would like to own when he grows up, he turned around and asked me which one I would like so that he can buy it for me! So what’s next after roti, kapda, makaan? It will be, without doubt, difference, dialogue and disruption.
By Mandeep Malhotra
The author is CEO and co-founder, The Social Street