Something incredible has been brewing beneath the surface over the last 10-25 years – a cultural reset and the dawn of a new digital day. With evolution being our inherent destiny, these changes are pushing us as digital marketers to think deeper and to think ahead.
So, here’s to the new generation, Generation Z (or Generation Fluid), born between 1995 and 2010. Below we take a closer look into the ways in which this unique generation functions.
It’s no secret that this generation knows EXACTLY when they are being marketed to and don’t particularly enjoy being spoken at. Take the typical “back in my day” conversation, usually initiated by a “Boomer” with an in-house Gen Z’er – how well was that received?
Now, imagine that same #OkayBoomer eye roll whenever an ad pops up.
They are tech natives, born into the internet age with an inherent understanding of its intricacies and ability to read between the ad lines, so to speak. This begs the question, how do you market to a generation of people who know when they are being marketed to?
A few things to keep in mind:
The 8 second attention span – The key is to hook Gen Z within the first 5 seconds, or they bounce. Literally. Being tech natives, they go onto the internet in search of something. They need and want that information immediately or they move on – there’s no such thing as page 2.
Brand Authenticity - Be mindful of the fact that they are children of the internet. Everything about them is online, they’ve been building a personal brand their entire lives and are more likely to align themselves with a brand that speaks to their values as well as the values of the audience they are targeting.
Inauthentic, unrealistically polished content just won’t cut it. They relate to unfiltered, candid and often grungy advertising and unlike Millennials, they don’t just appreciate brand authenticity, they EXPECT it.
Entrepreneurial – Generation Z is all too familiar with financial recessions and often limited opportunities. So much so, that they’ve taken to creating their own. 40% of students between grades 5 and 12, have said that they wanted to run their own business. Of that 40%, 25% have already started their own business.
Their aspiration to enter the corporate world has dissipated, now opting to be change-makers and innovators of the future. They make their own rules.
Be Socially Conscious - Being socially conscious and engaging in “hard” conversations where they are happening is very important to Generation Z. They respect brands who join in on the “controversial” conversations if need be and appreciate brands who share insights into current affairs – educating and actively working to create change in society.
Collaborations – You’re speaking to a generation who were born in the heat of uncertainty. What this says about them is that they like fluidity. They cannot be confined, and you should not confine your brand either. Collaborate where possible and embrace the seemingly wacky content.
Here’s a great example.
It was the year 2020 (dun dun dun) and Jive, the notoriously Capetonian and culturally rich cooldrink brand took to collaborating with the equally cultural and youthful BRAhSSE streetwear brand to create the #NixSugarAllFlava Campaign. BRAhSSE’s brief was to create a clothing range inspired by the product, yet not overtly branded Jive X, with the range forming the basis of the promotion.
The result was an effortless appeal to a younger audience who appreciated the on-trend, local element that BRAhSSE Streetwear brought to the forefront of the campaign. Fans could “cop the drip” (or clothing) designed with vibrant colours and personalities that aligned with the brand.
Foregoing easy access, you could not purchase the clothing, but instead needed to pay attention to Jive’s social channels and 24-hour competitions or purchase the Jive X sugarless soft drink to stand a chance to win.
Both brands benefitted greatly through this collaboration. Jive provided a platform for a young, up-and-coming clothing brand and in return, leveraged authentic, subtly branded merch that appealed to the right market. This showcases natural synergies between two usually unrelated brands/products, but more importantly, speaks to Generation Z’s core value of empowerment and individuality.
The result? An increase in sales by 32% in the three months since Jive X launched.
Engage – Find out where they are. Social Media is no longer limited to Facebook, Instagram & Twitter. Take to leveraging the power of Snapchat, TikTok and Reddit. These may seem daunting to navigate as the expectations do seem high, but do go a long way when speaking the Generation Z, digital language.
Create entertainment instead of content – Arguably the generation most enticed by stunning visuals, great video content can go a long way in capturing their attention. By creating content that is entertaining and memorable, Gen Z’ers are driven to convert. Pluck on their mental, physical, and emotional heartstrings.
Inclusivity – as a more inclusive generation, they love seeing their favourite brands celebrate inclusivity as well. People in general like to feel represented and engaged with on a more personal level.
Evidently a hopeful, idealistic generation, constantly evolving as thought leaders and innovators, marketers need to embrace that brands now live in the consumer’s world on their terms and an exciting time lies ahead for marketers who have already recognised the opportunity to align their brands with Generation Z.