Studying a generation has its inherent difficulties, as raw data don’t lead to precise solutions where marketing is concerned. Paul Mottram, regional director at Text100 Asia-Pacific, believes that using research data and “applying a bit of imagination to archetypes” is the way to overcome this hurdle.
“You create a set of characters and archetypes to develop strategy,” said Mottram. “It’s a means to an end to come up with an effective proposition.”
The research from Text 100 and Redshift Research drew on consumer insights from 1000 Hong Kong residents aged 18 to 33. More than half of those surveyed identified themselves as liberal and tolerant (58 per cent), trusting and open (57 per cent), and practical (54 per cent). One in two respondents tends to be annoyed by superficiality and self-righteousness.
Although these qualities might make interesting social discussion, they’re too general for marketers to use beyond gaining an understanding of the broader values of this age group. The study took things a step further to identify six distinct personas of the Hong Kong’s post-'80s generation, focusing on their digital engagement and online activities.
The resulting types are: digital shoppers, digital voyeurs, mobile culture pioneers, the digital conservative, the emerging technocrat, and the passive sharer.
While the supporting graphics of the study don’t help to make the archetypes feel any more lifelike—none of them look Chinese for one thing—Mottram suggests that understanding these types is part of “having an end market in mind rather than mere statistics.”
“If you’re a beer brand, try to talk to the mobile culture pioneer,” said Mottram. He believes that communicating with the right group with the right kind of influence is paramount for a brand. In doing so, communication is amplified and spread in the most effective way.
“You need to reach the right influencers applicable to your brand. These are the people who will respond to your particular communication first and spread it to others in a way that has a maximising effect.”
For example, your target group may be the digital conservatives, who generally aren’t very engaged with social media. If you start a conversation with them first, you may get through to them, but your communication won’t spread even if the product or service is designed for people in that segment.
Mottram and the Text100 research suggest that it may be wiser to use an alternative communication pathway. in the case of the example, utilise other groups such as the technocrats to get the communication across to the conservatives.
To be effective with the post-'80s generation in Hong Kong, communication must be socially savvy, can’t always follow a direct route and needs to be designed for different types of groups and dynamics in order to have any real chance of taking off.
“You need to get inside the heads of who you’re communicating with, but also think about the environment and factors that actually influence these groups as well both directly and indirectly,” Mottram said.
Asked whether a lot general advertising in Hong Kong is wasted, Mottram answered: “This is evident from the types of ads you see popping up in your Facebook feed that don’t seem to be communicating to anyone, let alone any particular group.”
Marketers will need to be better informed, and Mottram notes that as members of the post-'80s generation take up more senior positions in marketing, they’ll also be marketing to their own generation. “A lot of advertising is still out of touch with this group because 35-year-olds are creating the communications.”
Notably, the post-'80s now have significant purchasing power. “The picture of this group is very different from five years ago,” said Mottram.
“It’ll be very interesting when the post-'80s generation start having children,” said Mottram, who was surprised by the maturity of this group in Hong Kong after concluding the study. “I think their sense of responsibility will further increase but I can’t imagine their demand for transparency and engagement levelling off. If anything, it’ll probably intensify.”