Authenticity drives brand affinity for Gen Z: BBC Studios study

Mumbai : BBC Studios has released a new study titled "Brands, News and Gen Z," focused on revealing the preferences and motives of a new generation with purchase power, making it easier for advertisers to target an emerging, commercially receptive segment. The study offers advertisers deeper insight into what motivates Gen Z, how this generation engages with the news and what influences their decision-making process for purchases.

The study shows that despite growing up in a digital, filtered and increasingly volatile world, Gen Z are grounded, self-assured, ambitious and steadfast in their values, which align most closely with those of the boomer generation while incorporating the sensibilities of younger generations.

Authenticity, as defined by Gen Z, is about honesty, originality, trust, and quality. For Gen Z, brands aren’t just an expression of what they like; they’re an expression of what they value. They are more inclined to consume brands that are authentic, as they come closer to representing their values, beliefs, and sense of community. The research found that 80 per cent of India's Gen Z respondents said that authenticity plays an influential role in their choice of brands. If a brand is genuine, Indian Gen Z are more likely to be loyal to it (81 per cent), recommend it to others (78 per cent), and purchase their products and services again (73 percent).

The research found that globally, Gen Z is more likely to trust the content of media platforms that they find authentic. This preference for authenticity also extends to where Gen Z obtains their information, with only 18 per cent of them being inspired by someone they follow on social media. Despite growing up in a digital world, Gen Z believes social media has created pressure to ‘present’, ‘perform’ and ‘perfect’, making it much harder to be authentic. In order to be authentic, Indian Gen Z respondents agree that it is crucial for news publishers to provide readers with a 360-degree perspective (64 per cent), give a platform to people whose voices are trusted (63 per cent), and publish fact-checked stories (61 per cent).

When a news media brand is trusted and perceived as authentic, Indian Gen Z prefers to engage with advertising and branded content presented by that news media brand. 60 per cent of the Gen Z respondents in India said they try out the brand they see on the authentic news media brand, and even more, 73 per cent engage further with other content that the news media brand produces or reports on.

BBC News APAC SVP commercial development Alistair McEwan said, “This research is particularly prominent in India, where the results show increased importance placed on authenticity by Gen Z compared to the rest of the world. We are always striving to learn more about the composition of our audience and the Gen Z cohort is an important emerging segment, and this research highlights that there are many similarities with older cohorts. These insights will help brands better understand the nuances of marketing to Gen Z and assist in creating effective policy settings and appropriate messaging.”

Aspirations in life for Gen Z are being successful, being authentic (true to yourself) and being content. The study found the Indian Gen Z to be the most ‘driven’ cohort among all in terms of their ambition to ‘be successful’ in life. The most popular definitions of authenticity among global Gen Z are embracing who you truly are (44 per cent), and remaining honest in all circumstances (40 per cent).

'Being a good friend' is rated highly as being one's authentic self by Indian Gen Z, and 58 per cent consider their career to be an important aspect of their life. Being successful is very important for Indian Gen Z, which is much more important than the global average, 49 per cent vs. 29 per cent.

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