We first coined the term ‘reset generation’ when we surveyed millennials in key global markets back in 2010 just after the worldwide recession. At the time, most of the respondents were teenagers to early 20-year olds. We called them ‘resetters’ because many had to reset their life expectation in the face of financial uncertainty.
Now, four years later, we reached out to them again and added more markets to the research. In total, we interviewed nearly 10,000 millennials across 19 markets, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE.
The reset generation are no longer kids. They’re 25-34 years old and approaching what is hopefully the prime earning years of their lives. They’re getting married, having kids and buying homes.
What’s concerning is that this is a generation for which marketing and brands are less and less relevant. Nearly a quarter of the respondents in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region expressed cynicism about the way brands advertise to them. Many participants in the survey couldn’t — or wouldn’t — name a favourite brand.
As marketers, we need to understand how to effectively approach and engage with them if we are to leverage their full purchasing potential.
This latest round of research unveiled that the reset generation is still facing financial unpredictability. They are living with their parents longer, some have lost jobs or had their income reduced, many have had to take on a second form of employment. Nearly half are currently living outside their home country out of economic necessity.
These financial setbacks have caused a high degree of worry, with 41 per cent of respondents reporting high-to-severe anxiety based on the current economic climate. The continued uncertainties that the reset generation faces has meant that they place a high value on communicating with their peers.
This group is extremely tech-savvy, with 74 per cent of respondents owning a smartphone. Social media plays a huge role in resetters’ daily lives, with almost all respondents using it on a daily basis. When it comes to making decisions about purchases, online research surpasses opinions from people they know as influencers.
What came through most from the study was that this generation values adaptability and creativity as prize attributes. Adaptability is seen as an indispensable life skill and the filter through which they see the world.
Resetters’ personal experiences have forced them to adopt continual reinvention and this mindset has led them to place a high worth on thinking outside of the box, an attribute they seek out in brands. Our survey found that, across almost all markets, creativity was the most admired attribute for the reset generation, second only to trust.
I believe that these findings have major implications for marketers in the region. If we are to win the hearts and minds of the generation, whose formative and ongoing experiences have led to them to feel somewhat ambivalent about marketing strategies, we need to revise our approach to tap into their motivations and ambitions.
The generation has adapted to a level of uncertainty and choice never before experienced. Brands that show empathy for resetters’ life circumstances and have an ability to adapt to their lives, will gain a leg up in winning and retaining brand loyalty.
This group is easily the most digitally mature generation yet and the way they’re using digital/social/mobile is a good indicator of how marketing should evolve. The smartphone is the first, middle and last touch point in the shopping journey, so plans need to be built from the mobile device out.
By observing how resetters use social media we can gain cues as to how to collaborate and evolve the way we go to market.
Above all, brands need to be creative, as this is the most valued attribute for the generation. Creativity doesn’t need to be a revolution — even minor adaptations are welcome.
Small and frequent steps are easier to manage, particularly if they are undertaken with input from the reset generation themselves.
— The writer is regional strategy director at Initiative MENA.