Published in Jul-Aug 2023
The 21st century has seen a host of multi-faceted developments and changes in terms of advancements in technology and digitisation. However, in as much as these factors have changed the shape of the world we live in, there is now a primary agent of change at work that is redefining global trends. I am talking about Generation Z.
Aged between 11 and 26, Gen Z are on their way to superseding previous generations and bringing new perspectives to lifestyles, making them of great interest to the marketing community. Logically, it should not be a surprise that any succeeding generation would be different from the previous one, but in the case of Gen Z, we are dealing with something far more exciting, because they are in fact exposing the world to a new dimension of possibilities.
In Pakistan, this trend is no different. According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS, 2017), approximately 30% of the population is now made up of Gen Zers, which is equivalent to approximately 64 million individuals. This is a generation that is ambitious, self-aware and likes to stay ahead of the curve in whatever they do. They are concerned about the world around them and want to play a role in making it better.
1. Gen Z’s Digital Identity
Digital platforms are essential to the lifestyle of a typical Gen Zer. Beyond the entertainment preferences of this generation, these platforms also reveal who they are. Stats show that Gen Z in Pakistan are very particular about their online activities and they believe that people perceive their online image to be a true reflection of their personality, and are therefore sensitive to any potential for misrepresentation through fake information; almost half of them have expressed their concerns about being tagged in unsolicited posts that may misrepresent them – for example, if they post funny content, people may think of them as being funny or jolly and they will be seen forever as being so.
2. Outlook on Life
Born at a time of global economic and political turmoil and high competitiveness, Gen Z are concerned about topics that previous generations would not have related to at the same age. They stay updated regarding current events and tend to locate themselves in the larger scheme of things. Finances are of prime importance to them, with over half worried about the rising cost of education. On top of this, anxiety about meeting future expenses motivates them to save. In a country with the fifth largest youngest population in the world, this is a source of alarm, where young people perceive themselves as deprived of a primary need (education) and anticipate a future filled with difficulties instead of opportunities.
Socially, Gen Z are breaking stereotypes and setting new trends. A significant proportion want to do something they love as a full-time career. On the personal front, many of them (this is more applicable to males), believe it important to be in a relationship at their age. Yet, despite their ambitious outlook, they are not inclined to rebel, and they care about what others think of them and their social, professional and cultural traits. They are equally cognisant of the influence their friends and family have in their selection of a career. As a result, they are balanced in their approach, aware that they have to find a middle way in designing their lifestyles while aiming for their own well-being.
3. Gen Z and Food
Food is part of our identity as a country and as a region, and Gen Z are curious to explore new cuisines and styles. They are also in step with the emerging global phenomenon that prioritises organic and nutritional food. A large proportion of them are concerned about food hygiene, especially after Covid-19. This is manifested by washing groceries before cooking, adopting healthy habits during the cooking process and taking ancillary measures to ensure food safety.
Looking at their food preferences more generally, in Pakistan, Gen Z actively seek cuisines that provide a balance in health and taste as a priority in their food selection. Closely linked to this is their inclination towards natural ingredients, for which they are willing to pay premium prices. They also gravitate towards food that provides additional energy. This is more of an aspirational element and they are willing to switch to brands that can fulfil these needs. Another trait is that they perceive food not only for its functional benefits. Fun and the ‘experience’ attached to food is an important component. In this respect, food manufacturers in Pakistan have a space to indulge in more creativity – hence fun – in their offerings. When it comes to food, it would be safe to say that by their particular choices, Gen Z are redefining the culinary experience, giving food manufacturers the opportunity to rethink their choices.
Eager to experiment and early adopters of global trends, Gen Z in Pakistan are redefining the lifestyles landscape. It remains to be seen how they will evolve as they grow older, but given their efforts to bridge trends with their own set of values, we can be certain that they will be a force for good. It would, therefore, be wise to put more momentum into understanding their perspectives to gauge what may lie ahead.
*All stats mentioned in the article are derived from NielsenIQ research.
Danial Pirani is Manager, NielsenIQ BASES MENAP. firstname.lastname@example.org