There are a lot of important things that marketers, businesses, manufacturers and anyone else with something to sell need to know about Generation Z – the cohort of the population born approximately between 1995 and 2015. But here is the most important Gen Z fact: As of 2019, they are the largest cohort by number of any generation alive and they are on track to become the largest generation worldwide (32 percent of the 7.7 billion people on Earth).
That, by itself, should be keeping marketers up at night – because Gen Z’ers are different than millennials or aging baby boomers. They don’t trust a government, according to a study by the UK’s Guardian newspaper – but they trust business even less. No more than 6 percent of teens and young adults trust corporations to “do the right thing.” As these consumers are the future, companies need to develop a way to appeal to them. What do they want? What can marketers do to gain their trust? There have been numerous studies on these questions, but two things jump out from the Guardian study:
1. Real – and real creative. Gen Z’ers can smell a phony a mile away, and they want nothing to do with phonies. That includes influencers – the people who many brands have turned to to convince Gen Z’ers to buy their product or service.
Numerous studies have shown that Gen Z’ers respond to influencers; one study by Twitter showsthat 49 percent of Twitter users relied on influencers for guidance on how to spend their money – But to be effective, influencer marketing has to be authentic. Paid influencers, like celebrities, are increasingly seen as phony, according to data research firm NPD – but “honest, unpaid influencers continue to have sway in the market,” the firm says. Brands will find much more success with micro-influencers – individuals with just a few thousand followers – or even nano-influencers, who could have under a thousand – instead of top-tier influencers with millions of followers and fans.
2. Video to the rescue: Gen Z’ers are always on, and one of the main things they are using their devices for is video. According to digital education firm Pearson, YouTube tops the list for Gen Z’ers as the preferred way to learn. Even out of class, nearly half of Gen Z’ers spend nearly three hours daily with YouTube and other video channels. Another study says they watch nearly 70 videos a day!
Armed with that knowledge, businesses can now build strategies to reach out to these potential customers and gain their loyalty. Crucial to these strategies are opportunities to engage inauthenticity within a brand, as well as creativity.
The logical conclusion for marketers is – engage Gen Z’ers by giving them an opportunity not only to watch videos surrounding a brand but to create them or co-create with the brand. According to the Pearson (and many other) studies, Gen Z’ers are ambitious, with 65 percent agreeing with the sentence “My goal is to make it to the top of my profession/future profession one day,” far more than the 43 percent of millennials who professed that idea. By providing them with ways to influence – such as enabling them to co-create with your brand – brands can tap into their creativity and ambition, providing Gen Z’ers with an opportunity to do it their way.
Consumers are already sharing regularly. There is a substantial opportunity for brands to begin using a platform allowing brands to harness the power of consumer sharing turning consumers into influencers who co-create with the brand and, importantly, disrupt the old “zero-sum game ad model” with a new win-win model, in which both brand and customer benefit.
Add to that the gamification aspect – Gen Z’ers are big on games, contests, rankings, etc. – and brands have the makings of a full-blown engagement campaign. Platforms that let kids create and upload content while engaging with a brand, giving them fodder for their social media channels – and an outlet for their creativity – could be big winners for a brand.
For even more engagement, add a social service aspect to the mix. According to the Guardian study, 92 percent of Gen Z’ers believe that helping others in need is important, while 70 percent cite inequality as an issue for concern. A call to Gen Z’ers to produce videos showing a brand being used to improve the world – with rewards in the form of free products, points, etc. – could have deep appeal for them. These are just a few ideas that companies can use to bring Gen Z’ers on board with a brand.
We live in a far different world than we did decades ago. Ad industry trends have transformed since brands appealed to boomers, Gen X’ers, and millennials, and brands need to move with the times. This is the year Gen Z is set to become the biggest population cohort in the economy – which means that brands have to embrace the channels and marketing methods that Gen Z’ers are comfortable with. But “throwing money” at social media isn’t enough. To get results, brands need to use their marketing budgets wisely, developing ways that Gen Z’ers can engage with them in an honest and creative way.
By: Katherine Hays | Date: January 30, 2019