Connecting with Gen Z during the festive season: A marketing guide

As the festive season begins, it is not only a time of celebration and togetherness but also a golden opportunity for brands to connect with their audience. One specific cohort that has been garnering significant attention from marketers is Gen Z. We reached out to our 30 under 30 winners to understand the ideal media mix for Gen Z.

Pranali Tawte
Sep 12, 2023 16:14 IST
festive season

The festive season brings a golden opportunity to connect with Gen Z. This cohort, born roughly between the mid-1990s and early 2010s, is now coming of age and entering the workforce, which means they’re beginning to have more disposable income. With over 2 billion individuals worldwide, representing about 30% of the global population, and a massive demographic group with global spending power of US $853 billion, this generation is shaping the consumer landscape. These qualities have made them a force to be reckoned with, especially during the festive season.

To connect effectively with Gen Z, experts believe that brands should bring a fresh approach to marketing this time. Brands need a new plan for how they communicate and advertise that's both real and relevant to what Gen Z cares about – with the mediums that they are present on. 

Recent research shows that what context a brand's message is in and how they choose to communicate through media matters a lot to Gen Z. To succeed, brands need to get these two things right.

Abhishek Kumar, Head of Marketing, 4700 BC, said, “You win if you are visible. Especially during the festive season, when brands are fighting for a spot in the spotlight, it becomes important to know how to be visible in the right manner.”

During the festive season, there is a huge media splash. From OOH billboards spread across the country at prime spots to digital banners, there is high media exposure. 

He shared a few pointers on how brands can improve their visibility and relevance for Gen Z:

  • Reach out to Gen Z through social media, where they spend a lot of their time and partner with popular Gen Z influencers to make content that really connects with them.

  • Encourage young consumers to create content about your brand. Run fun contests or challenges on platforms like Instagram or YouTube, letting users express themselves while engaging with your brand.

  • Launch special festive season collections or products that are only available for a short time. This adds excitement and urgency.

  • Ensure your marketing and products represent diversity and inclusivity. Gen Z respects brands that celebrate all kinds of cultures, backgrounds, and identities.

  • Show your support for social and environmental causes that matter to Gen Z. Consider donating a portion of your festive season sales to a charity.

  • Provide great customer service online. Gen Z values fast responses and effective problem-solving. Think about using chatbots and AI to make customer support even better.

The festive season is a time of high emotions, celebrations, and increased consumer spending with holidays like Diwali, Christmas, Navratri, and New Year's Eve, depending on the region and culture. It's a period of gift-giving, decorating, feasting, and shopping, making it an ideal opportunity for brands to leave a lasting impression.

Pulkit More, Senior Brand Manager, Engage, ITC, emphasized that experiences and authenticity as critical factors when connecting with Gen Z. He believes Gen Z seeks stories and connections, not just products and this is where personalization comes in.

More said, "Emphasize the value of experiences and creating memories over material possessions, as younger generations often prioritize experiences over gifts. Customized products or experiences that allow younger consumers to express their individuality and uniqueness during the holidays stand out.”

Effective Content Formats and Mediums

Reaching and engaging with Gen Z during the festive season requires a mix of content formats and mediums that resonate with their preferences. This cohort has grown up with the Internet and all the advertising that accompanies it. This is why they tend to be cautious about marketing. 

Observing the transition from the click-bait era of Millennial-friendly marketing to the more authentic, unfiltered, and honest style of communication that Gen Z prefers, Paloma Sharma, Marketing Manager, Bumble, highlighted that the traditional hard-sell tactics with repetitive calls to action don't resonate with this group, especially on social media.

She said, “Gen Z is logged in for entertainment, education, and connection. Without catering to these needs through concise and engaging video assets in a manner that’s authentic to one’s brand, it’s difficult to build an engaged community of returning brand loyalists."

Furthermore, having a strong digital presence offers any brand an excellent platform for interacting with consumers and the chance to craft the story of the brand identity and distinguish themselves from rivals.

According to a recent study by Forbes, the number of social media users worldwide in 2023 has swelled to a record 4.9 billion people globally. The study also said that these aren’t users tied to a single platform, and an average user now spreads their digital footprint across a staggering six to seven platforms every month—highlighting the need for a multi-platform approach to social media marketing.

Apoorva Sharma, Deputy GM Marketing - Bira 91, said, “A lot has changed in the past few years, and there is a need to have a strong digital presence to reach younger audiences. Instagram, Spotify, X, Youtube Ads are surely strong mediums to build your brand.”

Recently, a festive report by Meta highlighted that there is a noticeable increase in the proportion of Diwali shoppers likely to use AR and VR tools to explore products, and 3 out of 5 shoppers feel AR experiences help get them into the Diwali spirit, and ultimately help their purchase decisions.

Highlighting the importance of AR experiences and encouraging brands to leverage them during the festive season, More said, “Implement AR filters, try-on features, or interactive AR games that allow Gen Z to engage with your products in a unique way.”

The report titled ‘Marketing to Millennials and Gen-Z’ by Omnifluence and Qoruz revealed that only 13% follow celebrities, while about 86% of them prefer to follow Instagram influencers.

Sagorika Mozumder, Senior Brand Manager, Jio Mart, highlights that this generation is born on Instagram; Creators & influencers typically have a higher pull than an A-lister Bollywood celebrity, and It helps brands immensely to keep it real & authentic.

She shares that one instance of this aspect done right is that of iPhone’s commercial iPhone 14 Pro | Trip’s Story | Apple

Sagorika Mozumder emphasizes the importance of focusing on the content idea rather than restricting brands to template story arcs. 

Mozumder said, “The campaigns undoubtedly need to have a digital-first approach. The media plans during the festive need to reflect the same; of course, this will also be a function of business goals & objectives.”

She encourages brands to experiment with OTT and other apps to gain traction.

As per the Trade Desk Festive Pulse report, 61% of consumers during the survey expressed a willingness to research a product online if they like the ads shown on this channel. Furthermore, people aged 25 to 40 years exhibit a larger appetite for ads on OTT platforms, as half of them (51%) reportedly pay attention to ads on the channel. 

“Apart from your regular platforms like YouTube/Facebook/ Instagram/ Snapchat, one can experiment with OTT, regional OTTs & other streaming platforms. Investing in roadblocks/ impact properties on apps that are frequented by the Gen Zs, like digital wallets, food aggregators, travel/ cab aggregators, news, music streaming platforms, reel/ photo editing apps, etc. might help gain their eyeballs,” Mozumder added.


While the potential rewards are substantial, the path to Gen Z's hearts and wallets is not without its hurdles. With less attention span, more social platforms and content formats, and new trends every other day, a pivotal question that looms large is how to overcome these challenges.

Shivangi Sanghvi, Former Brand Manager, Happilo, said, “This generation has a limited attention span and is inundated with an excess of content. Consequently, brands should focus on impactful communication that conveys their brand story rather than using pushy, sales & performance driven messages.”

She shares a few tips that brands can utilize this festive season to connect with their younger audience better.

  • Changing the meaning of festivals: Recognize shifting behaviors and offer relevant products and gifting options.

  • Mass vs. Personalization: Prioritize personalization and customizable offerings.

  • Short attention span: Focus on impactful communication and storytelling.

  • Digital-first approach: Allocate budgets to digital and online mediums, embrace current trends, and leverage OTT platforms.

  • Endorsers vs. Influencers: Collaborate with influencers, especially micro-influencers.

  • Relevant sales channels: Establish an online presence on e-commerce and quick-commerce platforms.

#marketing guide #30 under 30 winners #connecting with Gen Z