OnePlus wanted to reach adult Gen Z audiences. The secret was taking their feedback.

2 March 2023 | By Jareen Imam, Sr. Content and Editorial Manager

One Plus mobile phone

Celina Shi, the chief marketing officer for Europe at OnePlus, knows that it’s important for brands to listen and learn from young adult audiences. “If you really want to know what resonates with your audience, you need to invest time to learn from them,” she said during an interview with Amazon Ads. “Try and understand what they do and how they interact with different types of content. Study the mobile apps they are using, and see what topics they gravitate toward.”

Connecting with audiences, especially across different generations, regions and cultures means that a brand needs more than one well-crafted message to stand out. Brands looking to appeal to a wide variety of audiences need to customize their marketing so that it feels authentic and makes an impact with their varied customers.

This was the technology brand’s approach to reaching adult Gen Z and millennial audiences when working with Amazon Ads on two major launches in 2022. The key was to create a wide breadth of content that reverberated across generations and audiences. One campaign involved Amazon Freevee and Amazon Ads Brand Innovation Lab, and another launch focused on reaching gamers during the European Masters, an e-sports tournament hosted on Twitch.

Ahead of her session with Amazon Ads at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Shi sat down to share how OnePlus works to innovate their marketing strategies to connect with new-to-brand customers, how they approached their successful campaign launches and how they adapt to remain relevant with consumers.

Celina Shi during a fireside chat at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona
Audience during a fireside chat at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona

During a fireside chat at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Celina Shi of OnePlus shares how the company is connecting with young adult audiences through creative campaigns.

From your perspective, how has marketing changed in the past few years, especially when it comes to building awareness and reaching audiences in a more fragmented digital space?

We’re dealing with a lot of young adult audiences who value engaging content. And because of the media-fragmentation challenges, OnePlus is interested in focusing not just on reaching audiences but also engaging with them. That’s why we wanted to work with Amazon Ads Brand Innovation Lab to help us build customized ad creative that was tailored to different consumer needs.

At OnePlus, our mantra is “Never settle”, so we want to empower our young adult consumers. And we want to not just sell them a product, but actually define the course of our brand together with them. For us, we leverage our brand to build a community of “Never settlers”, people who share our passion for great technology and our core philosophies. Telling the story of that community, and using it as a point of pride in everything we do, is key to expanding it.

What do you think makes OnePlus feel authentic to the young adult audiences you’re working to connect with?

We are a user-centric brand who highly value our community who is at the core of everything we do. They are deeply integrated in our product development process and a linchpin of our marketing strategy. We actively listen to our community and do a lot of things together with them to really bring out the “Never settle” spirit. We also admit when we make mistakes, we are open to feedback from our users, and we make changes based on their recommendations.

For example, during one of our product launches, we decided to take out some of the key features of our smartphone. However, our customers didn’t think that was a great move. And because of their feedback, our brand decided to bring those features back. This shows how much we value our customers and their needs and that we want to make the best product for them.

Man using One Plus phone
Man reading book on bed while a One Plus phone lies on the side table

As a brand leader, what’s your advice to marketers who are trying to connect with potentially new customers? How about young adult audiences? What should they keep in mind?

Learn from your audience. If you really want to know what resonates with them, you need to invest time to learn from them. Try and understand how they interact with different types of content, study the mobile apps they are using, and see what topics they gravitate toward. Additionally, you need to make sure your campaigns are effective and constantly optimized. To do this, look to work with companies like Amazon Ads, which helped us connect with audiences across different regions and on different channels.

What’s the one tip you have for marketers who are navigating changes in the advertising space while trying to grow their brand?

I have two tips. One is to be disruptive in your approach. We’re focused on a digital-led approach, and we’re very active on social media because young adult audiences are active on those channels. We also know that millennials value word-of-mouth reviews and value social recommendations to make their purchasing decisions. Therefore, understand your audiences’ preferences, meet them where they already are, and market to them in new and disruptive ways so you stay top of mind.

Secondly, you need to use the right tools. For example, teaming up with Amazon Ads has given us access to more comprehensive tools and insights to help grow our brand.

What should advertisers keep in mind when marketing to audiences in different regions?

We have quite a few countries that we focus on, so we need to be aware of cultural sensibilities and differences. We also must think about translations and how our brand message is communicated into different languages. We also must think about what digital channels different communities use. For example, [consumers in] one country might use Facebook a lot, whereas another country might use Twitter more, and that affects our marketing strategy. My best advice here is to work closely with strong local teams because they know the culture better and can help your brand grow your business locally.