Opinion: Why are brands moving towards connected experiences to reach out to Gen Z?

Gen Z

Akshat Gupt, Kulfi Collective speaks about the importance of connected experiences, especially to reach out to Gen Z who are not limited by geographic barriers and are aware consumers who prefer experiencing brands that they resonate with.

Since the onset of COVID-19, brands have witnessed an amplified dependence on social media, which has impacted storytelling in the phygital world. Brand narratives are no longer built based simply on demographics. Today, narratives are a lot more interactive and engaging and built on communities with comparable experiences and interests – this is where connected experiences come in.

Generation Z are true digital natives, born in an internet-enabled world, where the likelihood of them having something in common with a Gen Z in another country is far higher than with their own parents/ family. They have firsthand experienced the fusing of their online and offline worlds, and are primary audiences for understanding experiences that translate across phygital platforms, and perhaps this is why brands focus more on Gen Z customers. 

Youth in today’s society have a significant impact on the way people of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds relate to and interact with brands. According to a recent study conducted by McKinsey on consumer trends, Gen Z is known as the “True Generation” because they are driven by the desire to discover the truth, save the world from conflict, and build a better future. To appeal to this Generation Z, brands are increasingly checking their tone of voice and persuasiveness. For instance, it is imperative now for a brand’s narrative to talk about things that matter to the generation, such as sustainability. This shift has aided brands in rethinking their approach to delivering brand value; how they maintain ethics and how they strike a balance between what they produce and what they want to portray and sell to the general public. 

Today, brands are experimenting with different media to build relationships through the creation and consumption of information. The relationship between brands, content creators, and content consumers has become more intimate thanks to platforms like podcasts, AR and VR, IG Live, and others that have enabled two-way conversation and formed meaningful and insightful conversations. 

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Individuality coupled with coherence

Generation Z prides itself on being able to stand up for themselves while still allowing other individuals to express their differences. Brands are built on platforms where their unique selling points match the needs of their target audience. With Gen Z, brands now have an opportunity to cultivate a niche and constantly improve their brand strategy through continuous feedback and reflection.

Generate Shareable Content

Social media’s widespread use has brought individuals from all over the world closer together, allowing them to interact, learn, undo, and experience and share new things. For this generation, what you share is who you are. Experience-based marketing events give Gen Z the chance to take photos and videos that are easy to share with their networks. Brands should leverage this by creating original, shareable content that consumers genuinely are interested in, want to interact and co-create with, and that they actively want to share with their peer circles. Consequently, brands will receive more engagement, raise more awareness, and acquire more organic impressions.

For Gen Z, there are no geographic barriers; they are well versed with Kpop bands, upcoming OTT stars, to international influencers, and this gives brands as well an opportunity to partner with them and increase their worldwide presence. 

Breaking the Taboo

With a successful share of voice, brands have now created storylines and showcase visualizations for messages that were previously off-limits to public discussion. Today, the desire to talk about the idea and create a welcoming environment has allowed brands to expand their roles as greater storytellers and stay loyal to themselves. Since the generation is more open, Gen Z is specifically more likely to talk and share their true feelings through mediums like podcasts and IG Live. Brands are increasingly aware of the change in consumer behaviour, where storylines are intended to elicit empathy and be subtly persuasive.

Better Experience  

Thanks to Gen Z’s desire to witness newer things, marketers have today developed connected experiences and offered lifelike experiences through a variety of new-age tools. Today, brands have improved storytelling by integrating the real and virtual worlds.

One of the notable examples is Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion, which used digital tools to create a lifelike experience while telling a multi-part ghost story. People became interested in what they were experiencing as a result, whether it was through a retail subscription, games, or visiting Disneyland Park. Consequently, this helped the brand to gain traction from a 360-degree standpoint. Through numerous touchpoints, the company was able to feel the emotions of its audience, which overall promised improved branding and storytelling. 

Every new Generation be it Millennials/ Gen Z/ Gen Alpha comes with its own unique personalities, experiences, and perspectives.  Instead of being wary, we can quickly learn what this generation wants and expects if we spend some time understanding them. Gen Z is the first generation to be born into an Internet-enabled world. They desire brands that will take them on a multisensory journey because they live in a culture that values authenticity, honesty, and social responsibility. By giving it to them, you’ll be well on your way to winning over the next big consumer force.

The article on connected experiences is authored by Akshat Gupt, Co-founder and CCO of Kulfi Collective