Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

Published in Nov-Dec 2016

Ultra connected and always ready to escape

Facebook, YouTube and WhatsApp are very popular because they help Millennials escape into a world that is fun.

Illustration by Creative Unit.
Illustration by Creative Unit.

Pakistan’s young constitute the third largest Millennial population in the world after China and India, and yet there is an extreme dearth of studies about Pakistani Millennials. In light of this, the team from Kantar Millward Brown undertook a study on this generation. This article is about what we discovered.

Millennials (also known as Gen Y) are defined as people born between 1981 and 2000 (and in 2016 range between the ages of 16 and 35). They make up 30% of Pakistan’s population, and almost half of Pakistan’s adult population. This dispels the notion that they are a niche market. In fact, they are really ‘the market’ in Pakistan. Yet very few brands understand how to effectively engage with them.

Millennials are the ultra-connected generation. They are always switched on and socially connected; globally as well as in Pakistan they are among the savviest adults as far as digital media is concerned. They are early adopters of digital gadgets, the most mobile generation and psychologically tech dependent, especially with regard to their mobile phones. One respondent told us that “life without a cell phone is like life without a finger”. It has been estimated that 77% of cell phone users in Pakistan are Millennials and their phones are mostly smartphones.

Millennials are bored easily and often find ‘real’ life to be slow. They want to escape into a happening world, one where they will get to know everything about everyone. They suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) and they want an environment where information and entertainment are quickly available and one where they can interact with friends and family without the restrictions of time and space.

“I find the real world boring and slow paced and would definitely like to escape into a one that is entertaining and fast,” said a respondent. No surprises then that the three biggest and most powerful brands in the world that are operating in this space are technology driven. They are Apple, Google and Microsoft.

Our qualitative research (both online and offline) helped us understand why Facebook, WhatsApp and YouTube are so popular in Pakistan – because they help Millennials escape into a world that is fun.

Millennials spend a lot of time on Facebook. It allows them to stay in touch with friends as well as share their updates. Facebook allows them to communicate with people they don’t know. So this is the place where brands can build their social presence through aspirational viral content production and sharing. However, even Millennials need personal space, and that space is provided by WhatsApp. This app allows them to privately interact with friends and family and they believe that what happens on WhatsApp stays on WhatsApp. This makes the platform more of a challenge for marketers, although in time it may possibly become a customer service player.

YouTube is a virtual library for Millennials, giving them access to all sorts of things at the click of a button. This is where they can learn and be entertained by a plethora of information, entertainment and infotainment options. For brands, this makes it a great platform for paid video advertising.

Millennials are the ultra-connected generation. They are always switched on and socially connected; globally as well as in Pakistan they are among the savviest adults as far as digital media is concerned.

Some brands have successfully used these platforms to boost their saliency in Pakistan. The success of Coke Studio is a good example. Originating in Pakistan and now in its ninth season, videos from the show are available on Coke Studio’s official YouTube channel, where they have gained millions of views. Our research noted that Zalima Coca-Cola Pila Day was one of the most recognised songs among Millennials.

Another campaign that featured strongly in our research was the Nurpur TVC. Respondents attributed the music as one of the most important elements in both communications – and in both cases (Coke and Nurpur) the music was a remix. Our conclusion is that Pakistani Millennials appreciate modernity grounded in tradition and culture; they like to relive the past in a new way.

Respondents mentioned clothes as one category they often sought to buy online and particularly mentioned Charcoal, Daraz and Khaadi. Similarly, Careem and Uber seem to have made waves among Millennials in the digital space. To win in this space, brands need to go in for multi-channel communications to avoid the incidence of audiences changing channels or skipping ads. To hold the attention of this generation, brands have to engage them and the only way to do this is to make them part of the conversation.

For this article, Firefly – our qualitative arm – undertook a learning project on Millennials. We used proprietary digital tools such as Ideablog along with mainstream focus group discussions (FGDs). Ideablog is a unique tool that allows moderated interaction between respondents in the virtual space and is an excellent way to bring on-board different people to mine consumer insights. Furthermore, the digital space removes inhibitions among respondents, which generally manifest themselves in FGDs.

Another tool we use are the WhatsApp Diaries. This is a clever way of generating responses that include not only words, but photographs and videos. This enables us to understand the environment our audiences live in and helps create an ethnographic picture of our respondents. We also encourage our clients to test their digital communication in a safe but real environment and here we partner with Facebook to test ads through a technique known as Link for Digital, a methodology that evolved from our TV testing system known as Link. It can also be used to test YouTube videos.

As digital media spend is rising fast in Pakistan, better to gear up for it sooner than later!

Noaman Asar is Country Manager, Kantar Millward Brown.