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MTV Study: marketing to the Indian youth in a post-pandemic world

How can marketers understand the Indian youth better

A look at the findings of the just-launched MTV India Youth Study, to help marketers with a better understanding of the complex youth consumer.

Marketers across geographies are constantly working hard towards unravelling the mysteries of what drives the youth consumer cohort. While their current and future purchasing power makes them very attractive, they are also one of the most complex categories to address and engage.

2020 has been a pivotal year in so many ways and the last 18 months of the pandemic have made marketing to this consumer set even more intricate. Purported to be one of the most exhaustive studies of its kind, MTV India Youth Study delves into the behaviour, mindset and beliefs of this most critical consumer cohort to help brand custodians craft their strategies better.

According to Anshul Ailawadi, head of youth music and English entertainment at Viacom18, says, “this edition of the youth study, the first such exercise post the first wave of the pandemic, is a glimpse into how young Indians are coping with a changing world in which every aspect of their lives - from their education and relationships to their careers and interests - is being relooked.”

It will go a long way in helping brands, creators and publishers establish a deeper connection with their Gen Z constituency, he adds.

Unravelling the complex youth market

  • The study covers over 26,000 respondents aged 15 to 25 years from 50 Indian cities and looks at seven broad topics: education, money, romance, national interests, content, family, friends, and spirituality, and Covid-19 outlook.
  • Over 50% of Gen-Z believe that life will be back to normal overthrowing the concept of the ‘new normal’ after Covid-19 subsides and 74% said DIY during the lockdown has now grown to become a habit as per the findings.

The changing order of true love, family, money and spirituality

  • For this consumer set, belief in true love continues to decline with 1 out of every 2 respondents saying they flirted with someone else apart from their boyfriend or girlfriend during the lockdown. A whopping 25% said they don’t believe in marriage, which is up from 10% in 2019 and 8% in 2016.
  • Yet, almost in stark contrast, “the significance of family as the biggest reason for contentment and happiness has increased from 13% in 2016 to over 52% now,” shares Ailawadi.
  • For Gen-Z, money is emerging as the big driver. Even though a staggering 74% felt there are a lot of undiscovered careers and ways to make money, but for 46% of respondents, money is all that matters, up from 21% in 2019.
  • This is a generation of mixed priorities - while money is very important to them, oddly enough spirituality is also an important driver in their lives. Over 62% feel that spirituality/religion gives them calm and clarity in a confusing and complicated world.

Takeaways for the marketers

Key takeaways for marketers and brands to help unravel the mystery box called youth consumer

  • Treat this consumer group with the right ROI: The tough economic environment, aggravated by the post-pandemic realities, has compelled Gen-Z to value money more than ever. Points out Ailawadi, “No longer are they content to with interests and hobbies for recreation alone. They realize and value money and for them monetizing the ‘side-hustle' is not only important but imperative too.” Over 70% of the respondents felt that their side-hustles provide them with the best shot to fame and glory.
  • Nothing seems permanent, including relationships: Relationships have been frayed and relooked at never before, for this generation, again made tougher on the back of the pandemic. As Ailawadi says, “2020 has been a graveyard for relationships with tech and distance (especially in this pandemic era) is breaking more hearts than ever.” Some 66% feel that people are treating relationships like Instagram stories – here today, gone tomorrow! It also tells what then the future of relationships could be like, in general, and also with brands. Building loyalty with this group may be the biggest nightmare for marketers.

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