They’re the newest generation that brands are paying attention to. How can you reach them and build an effective strategy, without falling into stereotypes?
The generation preceding the Zs has been written about extensively and is a mystery to many brands. The cut-off points for the beginning and end of the Millennial generation differ depending on the source: from around 1980 to 1995 or 2000. They’re said to be narcissistic, indebted and glued to their phones. They reject traditional norms for work and are largely preoccupied by environmental questions.
We still haven’t settled on the “marketing name” of Generation Z (though MTV coined the term Founders in 2015), which includes anyone born after the year 2000. Their parents (Generation X) followed the Baby Boomers in the workforce; they are strangers to abundance and full employment and are much more restrained than their elders in the previous generation when it comes to their expectations of the job market. They never experienced a pre-September 11 world, barely experienced a world before the economic crisis of 2008, and never lived without a smartphone. They might have access to a huge amount of technology (they are the masters of multi-screen), but they can’t buy any of it for themselves (for the most part, they are minors). They do, however, play a critical role in their parents’ purchasing process. A recent Snap study showed that 63% of family purchases of consumer packaged goods (CPG) were influenced by a Generation Z family member.
Basing a strategy on a segment as big as a generation runs counter to a simple human truth: everyone wants to feel that they are unique, and no one wants to be put in a box (young people even less). Creating the conditions for success means basing your strategies on real behaviour (generally online, for this generation) rather than on socio-demographic generalizations.
These days, we view the majority of our content through news feeds. With a near-infinite amount of content to scroll through, it can be difficult to carve out a place for yourself, attract users’ attention and combat indifference. An indifferent user is very hard to understand because they leave no trace. It’s also very difficult to reengage them, given how little behavioural data we have. The approach is simple: create content that sparks enough interest that users click through rather than simply scrolling past and landing on something else.
This youngest generation is also the most mistrustful of advertising, and many of them user ad blockers – one more reason for brands to do their homework before launching an ad campaign. The monumental mistakes made by Pepsi, H&M and most recently the Adelaide tourism bureau in Australia all came down to the same thing: a poor understanding of the consumer, often caused by an overly brand-centric approach. On the other end of the spectrum, the McDonald’s Our Food. Your Questions. ad is an example of a brand showing humility by agreeing to answer (and widely share) any question (even the most uncomfortable) consumers might have about what they put in their food.
Beyond the idea, brands also need to listen to users when it comes to the way they present their content. Particularly with younger generations, the codes of communication (through images as much as text) are crucial if a brand wants to have any chance of winning mental space. This way of operating demands an enormous amount of openness from a brand, in terms of accepting a certain amount of flexibility in their methods of communicating.
The key to success when publishing content in the era of news feed-generating algorithms resides in a brand’s ability to use them to personalize its content. Opportunities for targeting using these platforms are endless; it can allow you to match target groups with particular interests (once again, going beyond simple socio-demographic data) in a very effective way.
With the aim of helping you define your strategies for Generation Z, we’ve developed a checklist so you don’t forget anything!