Charlotte Dennis, TMF tutor writes…..
I’ve been spending a bit of time with the youth of today, as of late (blimey I sound like my grandmother). I started asking them to share their opinions on brands. How brands are built, what qualities they look for in brands and why they purchase brands? It has become rather apparent that the way in which we communicate to this generation needs to be modified. Generation Z – a term used to define this generation (a contradiction in terms, as this societal segment fight classifications and tags). A generation born between the late 1990’s and early 2000’s and equate to 25% of the UK population. Known as the entrepreneurial generation, the tech gen, a collective of individuals who are prepared to challenge normal, a segment of society that care about the world, and want to make a difference, a broad categorisation I know. However, this segment is becoming so multifaceted, to the point that the mere engagement with brands can be perceived as being uncool.
We know that brands can’t rely on traditional media, to reach out to this multifaceted and vital consumer. Indeed, there is growing cynicism around use of digital communications amongst Gen Z. It’s a conundrum brands are facing. Throwing a lot of media communications at your target market and hoping it’ll stick won’t wash. Content, data and peer to peer are being called upon by brands to add authenticity to a brands messaging. I’m not saying that this generation aren’t buying into brands, engaging with them and subscribing to them. What I’m saying is they aren’t connecting with brands in the same way as previous generations. They aren’t looking to brands as a means of defining themselves. Loyalty is becoming harder to acquire and brand switching is prevalent. Preferences can change as frequently as the British summer time. Generation Z are starting to become cynical, demanding more from us marketers, becoming sceptical when brands try and demonstrate an understanding of what makes them tick.
Now I have worked for 3 mega brands, over the years I have seen plenty of zigging and zagging, as brands try and engage with different consumer groups. It used to be a simple reset, a new brand direction, new communications plan or new products coming to market. But now it’s not that simple. It brings me to this question: “How then do brands adapt to consider this multifaceted segment?”
There are several things brands can do to gain the kudos and air time with Gen Z:
1: Segmentation: Segmentation + needs to be the new approach. Brands need to consider the many dimensions of their market, the motivations behind their consumer’s intent to purchase or engage in their brands.
2: Peer to Peer: Generation Z look to their peer groups for authentication and acceptance of brands. If they like something they share, tweet, and like, but equally they are editor in chief of their own content.
3: Be ahead of the curve: Generation Z are insightful, inquisitive and expectant. When it comes to brand messaging they expect brands to get them, their world, their likes and dislikes, what matters most to them and to express this. Understanding your consumer, the first message of marketing, and never has it been more difficult to decipher!
4: Content is king: This generation consume media and messaging on their terms in their own time. They look to brands to provide richness in messaging and story telling. They will discover content, comment on it and search for it. Be sure to consider your diverse segment and create content accordingly.
5: Short and sweet: Gen Z like messages that are rich and deep in their meaning, but which are easily consumable.
6: Future proofing your brand: Media selection is key, and is forever changing. The social landscape for instance demonstrates how different platforms demonstrate different qualities and appeal to different segments. Be smart and considered, when it comes to your mediums. You need to be on the next digital platform before Gen Z realise it’s hot.
Ultimately the utopian picture is linked to the ability to second guess this segment. Be where they are when it comes to messaging. For a crystal ball, please get in touch!