Ubaid Zargar

The Gen Z wave of celebs is particularly different from its predecessors; here’s how

Opinionated, self-aware, and cause-driven; here is what sets the new-gen celebrities apart.

In recent years, the influence of Gen Z has become increasingly evident across various industries. Their unique perspectives and daring attitudes are redefining traditional norms, particularly in Bollywood and sports. Notably, Gen Z stars are making their presence felt with a noticeable spike in their endorsements.

The most popular Gen Z celebrities in the country currently include Sara Ali Khan, who had 20 endorsements in 2023, Ananya Panday with 16, Janhvi Kapoor with 17, Shubhman Gill with 17, Tara Sutaria with 14, Shanaya Kapoor with 12, and Ishan Kishan with 9. These rising stars are not only capturing the spotlight but are also becoming the preferred choice for brands aiming to appeal to younger consumers. These numbers are from financial and risk advisory firm Kroll's latest Celebrity Brand Evaluation Report.

The up and coming face of brand endorsements

If you haven't noticed, some prominent international brands are on the lookout for young and fresh ambassadors in India. Tech-savvy and socially active, Gen Z stars are proving to be effective brand representatives. Shanaya Kapoor, for instance, has been signed as the brand ambassador for multiple brands like Miraggio and Puma. Ananya Panday’s global partnership with Jimmy Choo and Suhana Khan’s collaboration with Maybelline are other notable endorsements in 2023.

Viren Razdan, managing director at Brand-nomics, a strategy consulting company, highlights the shift in brand strategy. He says, "The first factor in favour of Gen Z is that brands have transitioned from using celebrities as idols to embracing them as ideologies. Younger generations are more attuned to understanding what people stand for and seek such awareness in the influencers they follow."

Viren Razdan
Viren Razdan

He adds, "These celebs and influencers voicing their points of view more frequently and consistently feed into what Gen Z consumers demand. One has to understand, Gen Z is going to be a generation of high consumption in the future. They are already a significant spending cohort for many brands."

Razdan concludes, "The challenge for established brands like Gucci, Jimmy Choo, and Maybelline is to woo this mercurial generation, which thrives on fast fashion. By collaborating with these celebrities, brands effectively seed their products into this high-spending segment."

The rise of Gen Z stars

The rise of Gen Z stars is marked by their distinct characteristics that set them apart from their predecessors. Their robust social media presence, coupled with a modern, politically correct outlook, resonates with their Gen Z fans. This generation’s high consumption potential makes them a significant target for brands.

Aviral Jain, CFO at Kroll, highlights the importance of Gen Z in the market, noting, "Gen Z audiences are tech-savvy, which means you want to sign up celebrities who are very active on social media. Some elite celebs may not be the best fit because they might not be as active on social media platforms. But some Gen Z stars might fare better."

Aviral Jain
Aviral Jain

Jain continues, "The Gen Z population in India, forming 25% of the country’s population, is fairly strong. No marketer can afford to miss out on targeting that audience."

The double-edged sword of Gen Z endorsements

It is also important to underline some elements of the new generation that can potentially make or break their association with brands. Jain elaborates, “With Gen Z, you get the benefit of having a very social media friendly and open ambassador. But at the same time, they are also very bold and fearless in terms of the content they're posting on social media. Some brands are very sensitive to the kind of content that is being posted, and they may want to continue to monitor how that partnership is working out for them.”

Lloyd Mathias, a brand strategist and angel investor, explains the evolving dynamics, "Gen Z has a more evolved community and social site. They genuinely look at brands that have tangible stances on social causes, are sustainable in their efforts, and are environmentally conscious. This generation has had access to vast information thanks to the internet and is relatively more affluent."

Lloyd Mathias
Lloyd Mathias

Mathias adds, "Due to the prevalence of social media, consumers realise that large brands partnering with big celebs is often transactional. Micro-influencers, to some extent, see more credibility."

He concludes, "Brands now seek celebrities who not only have a strong social presence but also reflect their values. This shift ensures that the endorsements are more than just commercial transactions, resonating deeply with Gen Z’s ideals and aspirations."

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