The forum attracted about 80+ professionals from the marketing, creative and advertising community along with students from relevant fields of study.
Hosted in the heart of the Kingdom’s capital city, Riyadh at Muvi Cinemas in Boulevard City, Communicate’s Marketing To Youth Forum brought together industry professionals and students to discuss trends, strategies and the various technologies that can help brands target and empower their younger audience more effectively.
Over 70% of the population in Saudi Arabia is youth. As a part of its Vision 2030 reform, the government is prioritizing growth and development for young men and women in the Kingdom to significantly drive change in their society.
The forum presented an exquisite roster of speakers across a well-distributed content agenda. Sunil John, President of ASDA’A BCW set the tone for the day with a deep dive into the findings from the 2022 Arab Youth Survey. Findings from the annual survey provide rich insights into the aspirations of the Arab youth. “There is no part of the world that is more optimistic and confident about the future than the Kingdom. Our survey reveals that 97% of the Saudi youth feel that their best days are to come in the future,” said John.
As the afternoon unfolded, panel sessions unpacking content creation, strategy, public relations, trends, and digital acquisition for a younger audience gripped the audience to take away learnings for their brands.
The first panel discussed various strategies brands can tap into to better retain their younger audience. Aamir Allibhoy, Chief Marketing Officer at Tim Hortons opened the discussion to his fellow panelists presenting Saleh Lzeik, Head of MarCom Consulting at Wafy App, Sarah Faisal, Senior Strategist across Imagination, and Mustafa Zaatari, Chief Brand Officer at ToYou. While brands know that conversing with Millennials and Gen-Z isn’t like speaking to other groups, the speakers argued that they can quickly identify a hard sell. “Research explains how 67% of the youth wants to recommend and boycott brands that are not aligning with their purpose,” said Zaatari.
“It is imperative for brands to take a step back and re-evaluate their consumer journey when speaking to the Saudi youth. That’s because they’re looking for richer experiences,” added Allibhoy.
Another tactic that can help reach the younger consumer base is PR. PR is all about getting new customers, adding value, and staying top of mind, and this can enable brands to widen their database. A keynote hosted by Injeel Moti, Founder, and Managing Director of Catch Communications discussed how can PR help brands and advertisers connect with the youth. “Innovation plays a very important role in driving engagement amongst youth. Considering the pace at which things are moving today, brands need to find a way to connect with their audience first. One way this can be done is through impactful storytelling and the way to go around this through public relations is to make them a part of the conversation,” explains Moti.
The latest research explains how the landscape of social media is ever-evolving, especially among teenagers. TikTok has rocketed in popularity since its North American debut by 67% amongst teens only. While YouTube continues to top the list among the most-used platforms by teens by 97%, TikTok continues to grow rapidly and is second on the list.
A panel discussion focused on trends and tactics that can help brands make the youth fall in love with their brand. Moderated by Waseem Afzal, Founder of Platformance, the panel presented Hashem Zahran, Chief Evangelist at FundrsVC; Elias Sawaya, Marketing Communications Manager at Samsung; Ruchdi Naji, Marketing Director at Xcite by Alghanim Electronics; Saleh AlSulami, CEO of General Automotive Company and, Ali Jassim, Communications & Digital Marketing Manager at Aljomaih Automotive Company.
The panelists collectively addressed concerns around the youth’s spending behaviors, their consumption behaviors during socio-political crises such as the Russia-Ukraine war, the pandemic, the great resignation, and how purpose marketing can change the way Gen-Z perceives a brand. “In a market like the Kingdom, it is critical for brands to hold themselves accountable. This enables them to build stronger connections with the youth,” said Jassim.
A recent Pew research found how young people differ from one another over how they want their country to engage with the world. Adding on to this Sawaya explained, “Every strategy a brand works on, should have value for its youth. They also need to become a part of their culture and community to speak to them at their level, this way we’ll be able to come across the problem solvers to the youth.”
Following this session, Tim Buckler, Product Director, Digital Marketing at Mastercard broke down in his keynote the process for driving digital acquisition for the Gen-Z. “Always work on a Plan B. When your design launches in front of the consumer, they will engage in a different way, and you really need to work on optimizing and personalizing the approach based on the data you’re collecting. While most brands commit to the key drivers of youth, they need to be agile enough to adapt to any changes,” said Buckler.
Commenting on the success of the event, Sahar Rafique, Managing Director at NordStella said, “We’re still in the embryonic stage of launching in KSA. Marketing To Youth Forum marked the beginning and we have a lot planned for the part of the region. With this forum, we aimed to bring Saudi’s marketing, advertising, and communications community under the same roof as students in the country to help drive engagement and valuable learning.”