Artificial Dust's Jerry Haha On Why Brands Overthink Gen Z

By Josephine Colter

In the eighth episode of our Up to Speed with UBS podcast, Jerry Haha, director of Artificial Dust, talks about building a brand for the right reasons, how Gen Z can detect inauthenticity a mile off and why you should consider employing your community

Tatler Asia
Cover  Jerry Haha, director of Artificial Dust

Born 1997 to 2010, Generation Z is the world’s first digital natives. Open-minded, sophisticated and diverse, they aren’t just here to change the world—they’re here to run it. From climate change to social justice and mental health, 70 percent of Gen Z say that, over the next ten years, they will use social media to voice concerns and create change.

With Gen Z purchasing power expected to reach US$33 trillion by 2033, having dissonance between younger audiences and your business could prove to be very bad news indeed. And since 68 percent of Gen Z expect brands to contribute to society, the stakes have never been higher.

How do you ensure your brand wins over Gen Z? How many more brands will get burnt before they get serious about Zoomers? And why should you build a brand, not just a business, in the first place? 

We asked these questions and more to Jerry Haha, director of Artificial Dust, a creative studio specialising in building brands for Gen Z, in the eighth episode of our podcast, Up to Speed with UBS. In conversation with Gen.T’s Lee Williamson, Haha shares why Gen Z are just humans like the rest of us, how building a brand goes far beyond Instagram ads and influencers, and his admiration for how Uniqlo has successfully created cultural caché with Gen Z. 

Here are a few excerpts from the conversation. Click the audio player below to listen to the full episode.

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ON GEN Z STEREOTYPES

“People are overthinking this Gen Z label. I don't think of myself as a Gen Z. We're all humans. All humans need ideas and connections.”

ON AVOIDING INSTAGRAM ADS 

“You can always invest in ads and Instagram influencers, but, in my view, I don't think they’ll be remembered in a week’s time. Instead of doing that, try to invest in a long-term message or doing something that noone's done before.”

ON DOING BUSINESS FOR THE RIGHT REASONS

“Instead of just doing products, try and do something different. Stand out for wanting to make the world a better place.”

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ON STARTING WITH EMPATHY

“Start with empathy. Instead of doing all the research, how about just going out and talking to people: observing people's behaviour, their body language, how they talk. Instagram is all just an image that we project.”

ON AN EVOLVING WORLD

“The world is evolving constantly. People are getting smarter and smarter every day. Ask yourself why the world needs your brand.”

ON HIRING YOUR COMMUNITY

“Work with your community. They understand you the best. This is better than just hiring someone whose work you think is cool, but then they don't understand your workflow. Trust the person that you're working with, and then trust the vision and give creative control to them.”

ON NOT OVERTHINKING IT

“It's all about the basic connections at the end of the day, nothing is that serious. You can always start over, you can always look to the future, not so much to the past, because you can always improve as a person. Always ask yourself, ‘what can I achieve better next time?’”

Quotes are edited for clarity and brevity.

Listen to more episodes or subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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