Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

Understanding Pakistan’s New Consumers

Published in Nov-Dec 2022

As Gen Z increasingly defines what the market will be in Pakistan, brands must understand these important new consumers.

As habits evolve with every new generation, it is safe to say that Gen Z is the most impatient of the generations so far. They are the first to leave the queue when it’s too long, hang up when on hold and skip the ad when watching YouTube.

Understanding this fast-paced, always ‘logged in’ generation is key to the success of any brand. In fact, when it comes to marketing to this generation in Pakistan, the urgency is only multiplied. They make up nearly 30% of the population and they form their own consumer market. Pakistani Gen Z are the future of our economy.

Who are Gen Z?
Although Millennials were the witnesses of the digital revolution, it is Gen Z that truly embraced digital as second nature. Born after 1997, these digital natives have little or no memory of the world as it existed before smartphones. Mobile devices, internet bandwidth and Wi-Fi are all part of their everyday vocabulary. They are wired to take in bite-sized information, be it textual or visual. All this has had a direct impact on the way they think, consume information and communicate with each other and the world at large.

What Is Unique About Pakistani Gen Zers?
The most exciting fact is their sheer size. Pakistan, with 60- 65% of its population below the age of 30, boasts of the largest Gen Z population in the world. Although Nigeria, India and Indonesia too have huge Gen Z populations, Pakistan has a bigger agency population in a more “densely” populated country. Added to this, Pakistan’s unique culture and socio-political nature make Pakistani Gen Z-ers different from their counterparts around the world, and therefore worth studying closely for any marketer wishing to communicate with them.

Pakistani Gen Z: Fact vs Myth
Student, unmarried, and with little or no money to spend. This is what comes to mind when we think of Gen Z. It is easy to fall into viewing this group in a singular manner. The reality is different. Pakistani Gen Z not only forms 25% of the economically active population, it is also very diverse. Only 20% of Pakistani Gen Z-ers in urban areas classify themselves as students. Similarly, only 49% say that they are single. The implication therefore is that if a brand wants to target students in a communication, then of course, Gen Z is the most relevant age group, even if it forms only 20% of this consumer group. However, if we want to target Gen Z as a whole, then targeting them as students would be a grossly incorrect representation.

Gen Z Is Difficult To Please
Yet another myth to be broken? Gen Z may be difficult to please, but only because we have not taken the time to understand them. The Barometer Study, conducted by Kantar, measured how people reacted to Covid-19 in Pakistan. What we noticed in the study was that Gen Z were the most impatient to break free of the Covid-related restrictions and move on with life. This impatience is characteristic of Gen Z. This does not mean that they are difficult to please but rather that we are not addressing their needs in a way that is unique to them. What we learnt from the research is that whereas during Covid-19 consumption slowed down among other pockets of the population, Gen Z drove consumption habits positively. The rise of digital retail and online shopping during Covid-19 transformed the way we shop today. We learnt that if businesses want to continue growing the economy via consumption, online shopping is going to play an important role with Gen Z driving that growth.

Gen Z Is Easily Influenced
This is probably true. However, despite the fact that Gen Z is impatient, research also shows that they will be the first to pick up the phone and contact a business if it appeals to them online. This is why businesses like the fashion industry which have a digital presence are booming. They appeal to the socio-cultural traits of the younger population and have been quick to create digital accessibility. This generation is influenced when their senses are appealed to. They are anxious not to miss out on any new fad, but are smart enough to make sure that it has been endorsed and reviewed by many. For this generation, the opinion of others matters in their decision making, which is the reason why they can see through the endorsements of celebrities and traditional advertisements and are more likely to be influenced by “influencers.”

What Do We Do?
Gen Z has little time and wants its shopping at its doorstep with the least hassle. Embracing technology is clearly the need of the hour. Take the Metaverse – it is a reality that will shape the future of shopping and of marketing. The Metaverse is basically Web 3.0, which takes advantage of augmented reality and helps create a virtual space where buyers are able to interact with brands as they would in ‘real’ life. Traditional media, like TV and even video, are a very singular communication in the sense they only cater to our audio and visual senses. The Metaverse will communicate to the other senses. Given the truly digital nature of Gen Z, it should come as no surprise that they will adopt and adapt to the meta world very quickly. No wonder Facebook has been quick to change its brand name and it is time we geared up to this virtual reality too.

Turning Gen Z into Loyal Customers
Gen Z take in their information from multiple sources and screens. They are faced with a data overload and are understandably anxious. It is therefore the job of brands to communicate to them in a very light manner. We need to quickly communicate our point, and make it easily digestible while remaining meaningful. This implies that a lot of affinity with the brand needs to be created. Clearly, Gen Z is the future of the market and ignoring them means ignoring a population that defines what the market is all about. As marketers we still do not know enough about them. It is crucially important that we do.

Noaman Asar is CEO, Oula.