Understanding Malaysia’s Gen Z
The combined spending power of Generation Z (those born between 1996 and 2010) globally reaches over $100bn, and it’s a known fact that getting a marketing message out to this segment is a challenging task. But Gen Z’ers are not elusive creatures; they’re just more attuned to changes.
What we already know is that Gen Z has very different media consumption patterns from the ones seen in older generations. Instead of watching TV, they watch Netflix. Instead of listening to the radio, they listen to Spotify. And instead of reading newspapers, they scroll Twitter.
While there’s data on younger consumers’ media consumption, it is often primarily Western-centric. This study aims to provide information about who makes up Gen Z in Malaysia, their habits and consumption patterns.
This article highlights key takeaways from this study for marketers, especially those in the advertising industry, who want to bring and demonstrate value in this competitive climate.
Insights and Actions
#1 Less text, more visuals
88% use Instagram at least once a week
Trailing Instagram closely are Facebook (83%) and TikTok (62%). Whether it’s blogging, vlogging or going LIVE, the trend is obvious: today’s generations prefer visual platforms rather than text-based ones. The rise of visual platforms – such as Metaverse, Discord and Twitch – aligns with the fact that our brain processes images 60,000 faster than text. To appeal to Malaysian Gen Z’ers, marketers need to create meaningful content by exploring, communicating, adapting and materialising ✨aesthetics✨ into their social media marketing while staying true to their branding.
Here are some quick tips to implementing a strong visual strategy:
- Develop (and regularly update) buyer persona profiles; what their likes and dislikes, content they consume, etc
- Identify content categories that fit your brand. No, not all businesses must celebrate National Donut Day
- Be visually appealing and consistent
- Follow visual best practices; text placement, character limit, etc.
#2 Retail vs and E-Commerce
73% prefer physical stores when purchasing high-value items such as electronic devices
E-commerce platforms such as Shopee, Lazada and Taobao are preferred channels when purchasing items such as clothes (79%) and shoes (65%). More interestingly, this study observes that social media marketplace is starting to gain traction for low-value items (clothing and shoes), with Instagram and TikTok being slightly more popular (4%-10%) than Facebook.
During nationwide lockdowns, many had to pivot to digital channels for business continuity. Though digitalisation was already on the rise, the COVID-19 pandemic (that motivated people to spend more time online, thus increasing their online media consumption) accelerated its adoption. And there is no turning back as the world is opening up.
With Gen Z'ers out and about, we can expect that their buying behaviours are very much driven by online media. Marketers should keep up their momentum of diversifying selling channels (both online and offline). Pay close attention to platforms that drive website engagement among Gen Z’ers to devise plans that can help shape certain behaviours.
Find out the top genres watched on streaming services by
Malaysian Gen Z’ers.
#3 Keep it simple and short, please!
54% find ads on social media more memorable than on other platforms
The average consumer attention span now stands at 8 seconds. For a generation whose vices are devices, this is especially reflective of Gen Z. This means, content creation has become a lot more challenging for marketers who want to ensure that their efforts – be it organic awareness or paid ads – bring great results and won’t be skipped.
We’ve compiled some social media know-how’s, characteristics and best practices into a cheatsheet for you to optimise your social media content marketing:
Goal: Create quick, easy-to-digest and engaging content for Gen Z’ers on social media
Character limit (ideal length)
Feed & Stories
Feed & Stories
1600 x 900
7 to 15 seconds
- Influencer marketing
Find out the different functions Malaysian Gen Z’ers have
for different social media.
#4 Fact-telling? ❌ Storytelling✔️
80% can recall some ads that they have seen before
63% can recall at least 1 advertisement that they like and find memorable, while ads from Apple iPhone, Shopee and McDonald’s were mentioned by many. This affirms that storytelling is probably the most effective, tried-and-true mode of communication known to humankind. Used effectively, it can evoke emotions and engage with consumers no matter their age. But with new platforms and features popping up every other day, marketers have to adapt to different storytelling techniques; ones that hook Gen Z’ers with shortened attention spans the fastest.
#5 Creativity over tradition
Only 4 out of 10 look forward to festive ads every year
There is no denying that various festivities and celebrations like Chinese New Year, Hari Raya, Deepavali and Hari Gawai are important components in the cultural fabric of Malaysia. Companies want to create engaging campaigns that will stay at the forefront of consumers’ minds during festive periods and they are willing to spend big bucks on ad agencies that can make it happen. For a while now, the expectation has been which brand has the most emotional, tear-jerking or wittiest video ad. But our finding suggests that this traditional way of doing festive ads may not be the best way to appeal to Gen Z’ers.
To push the envelope and explore new ways that can amplify brand engagement and awareness among younger audiences, ad agencies should consider testing out their concepts or ideas before, during and after launching them:
Identify what strikes a chord with a client’s target audience and propose a unique pitch that considers content types, preferred platforms and modes of communication.
Include iteration as part of a strategy to prove to a client that your agency is nimble to adapt quickly to consumer needs and changes.
Find out if your campaign is a success by providing the client with real data and insights from target consumers.
There is now a way to test your ad ideas, get a presentation-ready report and nail that pitch in less than 2 weeks.
Gen Z’ers are digital natives who are so much more different than older generations. They have different sets of experiences and therefore, expectations. Marketers are set to capture and profit from the new generation of consumers, but they need to write a new marketing playbook –afforded by effective market research such as an online consumer survey – if they want to successfully connect with this generation.
Download the full report of this study for more insights and data.