The advent of social media has brought with it an unparalleled amount of access to information than we’ve ever had before, and experiencing this influx of information is a cohort of users nicknamed “iGeneration”, “Gen Tech” or “Digital Natives”. Regardless of what they’re called, Generation Z – born 1997 or later – wields a power over brands that may be more obvious at first sight. With a repository of information at their disposal, Gen Z members have become an increasingly difficult group to market to due to their saviness towards existing and current marketing practices, explained by the significant social media presence that has accounted for much of their lives. This in turn, has given them leverage at driving new trends in commerce and marketing, essentially forcing brands to adopt a more humanistic tone of voice rather than an in-your-face marketing campaign from the 1980s.
However, satisfy the burning question of “Why you should choose us over other brands” and successfully highlight your unique selling proposition, what you’ll end up with is a loyal user base within the upcoming generation of users.
Here are a few ways where you can effectively craft a campaign which capitalises on this segment’s preferences.
INVESTING IN VIDEO
The introduction of Facebook Live in 2016 and IGTV in 2018 has cemented the place of video in the future of online content. With this, businesses must invest in the optimal video and distribution channels; utilising them to create a unique overarching brand image, educate audiences and tell stories that are relatable to target customers. After all, studies show that Gen Z users watch an average of 68 videos per day across five platforms. To do this, businesses need to invest in creating a prominent personality which fits their brand. Before doing so, there are some archetypes which should be considered:
• How do they speak?
• What do they look like?
• What do they dislike?
• What are their personal interests?
• What issues might they feel strongly about?
More so, Gen Z values brands that support a cause. Social issues have been at the forefront of everyone’s social media news feeds. Adopting a stance on certain social issues will allow you to resonate better with younger customers. For example, Ben and Jerry’s YouTube channel goes beyond their topical menu to discuss the challenges of climate change and democracy, demonstrating how they can make a difference in the broader community.
INVESTING IN INSTAGRAM
Among existing social media platforms, Instagram takes the helm when it comes to visual branding. Marking a shift towards a visually oriented online experience.
The key to resonating with a younger audience lies in building an Instagram following and successfully engaging them. Businesses often make the mistake of posting from their own selves instead of posting for their followers. They can predict whether their messages are failing to relate to customers by asking:
• Do people use your product or service on a daily basis?
• Does it help in improving the lives of your customers?
• What does your product contribute to the community?
Once the core message is clear, consider other options such as partnering with an Instagram influencer to generate more conversation and interest. Whereby the person and content are working in tangent to humanize and give your brand a visual reference.
An excellent example of this is online payments company PayPal. Despite having no initial visual appeal, they successfully managed to achieve a 327 percent increase in engagement.
This success was brought about in 2013, through a social campaign which visually represented how their service solved a problem that a PayPal user encountered, adopting a format similar to that of “Humans of New York”
PayPal’s 2013 Instagram campaign that led to their success in engagement
Having grown up in an age of technology and information, the last thing you want to do is to try and pass of something superficial to a Gen Z-er, because they can smell your BS from a mile away. In this era of close connectivity and interconnectedness, being genuine and authentic will ensure you leave a good impression on Gen Z members and be spared from their thunderous backlash.
Big-data group IRI’s president of Consumer & Shopper Marketing and Core Content Services quoted, “Gen Z is deeply motivated by authenticity and a brand’s emotional DNA, which we define as how completely a product or brand aligns with the values shoppers attribute to it. Because Gen Z shoppers rely more on brand recognition to make purchase decisions than their millennial counterparts, it is critical that manufacturers and retailers create transparent and authentic relationships with the Gen Z population early on to build loyalty as their purchasing power grows.”
The authenticity a company can be further validated by showing how it relates to its brand values .E.g. Outdoor-clothing brand Patagonia demonstrated its commitment to environmental conservation when its company blog, “The Cleanest Line”, announced a USD10 million donation to grassroots environmental groups in a post entitled – Our Urgent Gift to the Planet.
In a time where social media is a prevalent part of our daily lives, it is becoming apparent that brands and businesses alike can no longer get away with the conventional hardsell; comprising of overly promotional, in-your-face-sales tactics. Instead, businesses should invest their resources in humanizing their messages, creating a unique brand image, building relationships with customers and leaning towards a relational rather than transactional form of marketing. Ultimately, it is this authenticity that will make people care, with social media being the perfect medium to do just that.