A Front Row Seat To Gen Z and the Biggest Brands in the World

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 “If you don’t realize it, the cliff of irrelevance is going to be far steeper than say, for example, it was 10, 15 years ago. And I think it’s digital that is going to push that.”


The world is changing at a pace that’s hard to keep up with. So, what a student learns to earn a degree is quickly becoming obsolete. That’s true unless you’re in Anika Sharma’s class. Anika is a professor of business and technology at NYU Stern School of Business, and she is also a General Manager and Global Client Partner for Mindtree. By having her feet in both worlds, Anika sees how Gen Z is changing in real-time and understands what brands are asking for on a day-to-day basis. She then shares that information in educational and business settings. She shared it with us, too, on this episode.

Key Insights


Why Should You Always Be Wearing Multiple Hats?

In her classroom, Sharma tells her students to always have their consumer hats on in addition to their marketing and business hats. Why? Because being in the mind of the consumer is the most important place to be. If something doesn’t work for you as a consumer, there is no reason to try to apply that strategy in your work. Thinking in a consumer-first way will put you on the best path to success.

“I always tell my students… that I want you to bring your consumer hat into the classroom. If it’s not working for you, it’s not going to work when you are trying to apply it, because the person who’s trying to do the work and the person who is consuming the work is the same person.”

Big Brands Might Not Stay Dominant For Long if They’re Not Careful

Large brands can certainly afford to lose a customer or two, but that should not become commonplace or accepted. According to Sharma, big brands need to step up their game when it comes to being agile and adaptable, because consumers are looking for better experiences and they are finding them elsewhere. When big brands take the approach that it doesn’t matter if a few customers leave rather than making it a priority to make them stay, they may wind up in a bad spot down the road.

What Is the Future of Luxury Retail?

Brands, luxury or otherwise, need to think about being part of their customers’ lives for a lifetime. Trends come and go, so brands need to be wary of losing their status or falling behind. No brand wants to be hot one minute and then have former customers say they wouldn’t be caught dead wearing the logo. Having a direct line to customers and not being so tied to old ways are two things brands need to do to stay in a good place. Sharma also believes that luxury brands in particular also need to be careful to not become too commonplace or else they will lose their shine. If everyone can have something, it no longer feels special.

About the Guest:

Anika Sharma is a recognized Global Digital Expert and Organic Growth Leader. She has over 20 years of Digital, Brand Management and Consumer Marketing experience, and was recognized as a Rising Star by both Ogilvy North America and Grey Worldwide. Anika is a regular speaker at companies like Google, Bing, and Lenovo as well as at several US universities, including NYU Stern.”

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Episode 212