Brands are clamoring to appeal to the next generation in line: Generation Z (also known as Gen Z). This demographic group, aged between 7 to 22 (born between 1997 and 2012), are markedly distinct from their predecessors. They demand authenticity, champion fluid identities and are voracious video content consumers. With a projected spending power of US$360 billion – more than double the estimated US$143 billion three years ago – brands simply cannot afford to ignore them. To take full advantage of their spending power, marketers need to understand the motivations of this generational group in order to speak their language and successfully reach out to them.
The first striking thing that sets apart Gen Zs is their experience with technology. These ‘digital natives’ have only known a world where having the internet, smartphones, and social media is the norm — unlike millennials and baby boomers, who have experienced a childhood without the internet.
According to a study by McKinsey & Company, the search for truth guides the behavior of Generation Z. Gen Zers are “identity nomads”; they prefer not to be pigeon-holed and stereotyped. Rather, they would want the freedom to express themselves authentically, experimenting with several identities. They are radically inclusive – believing individuals should be allowed to belong to several different groups at the same time. This is made possible by online communities.
Additionally, compared to their millennial or baby boomer counterparts, 22% of Gen Z are more likely to say they have stopped following a brand online in the past month. Gen Zers are not particularly loyal to brands, which means brands have to work hard to consistently win their favor.
Brands need to adopt distinct branding, refraining from adopting personalities or a brand voice that is bland or feels mass produced. A large majority are skeptical about brands and only 53% of Gen Zers believe brands are authentic. To be able to cut through the noise, businesses need to have a well-considered brand strategy to remain fresh, original, authentic, and not overly polished. Paying attention to its execution in terms of copy and visual across all marketing channels is key, especially social media.
It’s also important that brands use their reach as a vehicle to effect positive change. Gen Zers across APAC want to consume sustainably, preferring environmentally friendly products, organic foods, and ethical fashion. Gen Zs are particular about brands showing what they stand for and resonate with those that share their values and ideals. McCann Worldgroup Asia Pacific’s study of 18 to 24 year olds in countries in the Asia Pacific region, such as China, Malaysia and Australia, also revealed that 89% of Gen Zers believe they have the power to influence brands.
It goes without saying, social commerce platforms – Instagram, TikTok and Pinterest – are where brands can reach Gen Zers. 30% of Gen Zers surveyed globally say that having an easy checkout experience is important for them to buy something. Allowing consumers to complete a purchase on a social platform without ever leaving it simplifies the customer journey. But how can brands ensure their customer journey – from browsing to adding items into the shopping cart to final checkout and purchase – is made to be as smooth as possible on these social platforms? Brands need to analyze their customer journey and ensure they remove distractions that lead potential customers away from the page in order to reduce the risk of cart abandonment.
If you wish to market to Gen Zs, underestimating the value of video content and not having a video marketing strategy in place can be detrimental. This generation revels in visuals that engage and captivate them — their expansive use of Instagram Stories or TikTok is proof. Brands need to ensure these are quick to consume, are delightful and fun – fulfilling the instant gratification needs of today’s customer. Consider also making your content interactive, where Gen Zs can tap or click to feel involved and active. This could be as simple as having ‘yes’ or ‘no’ polls or using the slides feature on Instagram. You can also create quizzes that help to do two things at once: understand what your audiences are looking for and help shoppers identify their styles. With a personalized content strategy, your Gen Z audience feels seen as a unique individual.
It’s important that brands produce content that is a mix of information and entertainment – “infotainment”. Instead of traditional advertising that can be disruptive, overly curated and can be clearly categorized as an advertisement. Content created for Gen Zs should skillfully straddle the line between advertising and entertainment. Influencers are also a key part of creating such content, acting as the conduit between a brand and its audience. As such, consider incorporating an influencer marketing strategy into your overall marketing plan to reach your Gen Z audience.
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