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Reaching out to Malaysia’s digitally savvy Gen Z

With a monthly disposable income of 327 million USD, Malaysia’s 9.06 million strong Generation Z is one that is incredibly valuable to brands.

But unlike their Millennial predecessors the group of 13 to 21 year olds has only ever known life with the internet, and has a completely different outlook on connecting not only with each other, but also with brands than previous generations did.

In fact, for many the line between the digital and physical world is a blurry one and Gen Z will actually look to their presence online, rather than human interaction, for validation of their behaviour and consumer choices

The Epinion team recently conducted a study looking at Malaysia’s Gen Z, with the help of OMD Malaysia, which threw up some very surprising findings, and valuable insight for brands.

One of the more unexpected results was how digitally savvy, yet socially awkward this group of young people is.

Unlike previous generations who yearned for freedom and exciting social experiences, this cohort would rather be cocooned at home connecting with friends online, most going so far as to describe face to face contact as ‘uncomfortable.’

Almost all own a mobile phone, including 79 per cent of those aged 13- 15, and see it as an extension of their person, rather than an accessory – most know where it is at all times.

So if brands want to connect with Malaysia’s Generation Z they must share simple, bite sized messages that can be consumed via mobile, specifically via chat apps which 65 per cent said was the method they felt most comfortable talking to their friends.

But this isn’t an opportunity for lightweight messages; this is a generation that is not only has a high digital intelligence (so unlikely to fall for clickbait or false promises) but is also one that cares about the world around them.

We found 74 per cent of Malaysia’s GenZ said they were concerned about recycling and environment protection, 73 per cent freedom of speech and 71 per cent with education for everyone.

Clearly, if brands want to hold some sway with this socially aware group they must show they support a higher purpose.

For brands to do well here must demonstrate an element of empowerment, responsibility and general social conscious.

However, what might be most importantly to brands is how smart and in the know Gen Z is. For despite being young, their opinions are trusted by their families when it comes to decision-making for household purchases thanks to their knowledge acquiring abilities, ultimately hugely increasing the sum Gen Z has to spend directly and indirectly.

Bui Tieu

Bui Tieu Vy studied Commerce and Marketing at RMIT, Saigon and has been Epinion's Senior Marketing Executive for nearly three years. You can follow more of her and Epinion's global marketing insight at @EPINIONGLOBAL