Connecting Your Brand with the New Generation

They are lazy. They avoid face-to-face interaction. They will not stop arguing over who is considered a ‘true 90’s kid’.  Millennials have been under society’s microscope for the last decade; a punching-bag for Baby Boomers, a restructuring force for marketers.  But Millennials are being overtaken by the new cohort in town. Gen Zers, those born roughly from 1995-2010, are beginning to trickle into the workforce and become routine contributors in the economy.  Yet the thing is that they bear little resemblance to their predecessors.

Why are they different?

Companies often assume that Millennials and Gen Zers are similar enough to apply the same engagement tactics across both groups. While the two share some historical cross-overs, they were raised in different societies by different people, resulting in stark discrepancies in behaviors and values between the two. Whereas Millennials were brought up by the work-centric Baby-Boomers, Gen Zers were/are being raised by Gen Xers and older Millennials.

Older Gen Zers witnessed their parents face economic turmoil and risk of unemployment in 2008, instilling a pragmatic attitude towards the monetary market. Consequentially less optimistic about their economic prosperity, they make different decisions when it comes to spending. Granted, the younger members of Gen Z are yet to acquire a substantial amount of purchasing power due to their age.  Nonetheless, engaging with the ‘instageneration’ calls for initiatives that revolve around authenticity, truth, and social responsibility.

How They Make a Purchase

Due to their practical mindsets Gen Zers are more conscientious about how they spend their money.  When it comes to dipping into their own income for a first-time purchase, 68 percent of Gen Zers read at least three reviews while 16 percent read at least nine. [1] That being said, you must allocate efforts towards creating a positive reputation of your brand online.  Respond to complaints, ask how you could do better and initiate positive dialogue around your company.  With an overload of options, negative reviews could drastically affect your business’ relationship with Gen Zers.

Online Influence

Influence is a major factor for Gen Z when it comes to making a purchase and connecting with a brand.  The modern-day celebrities are popular Instagramers, Youtubers and Tik-Tok stars.  The younger generation looks for influencers who are relatable and authentic. As Forbes pointed out, Gen Zers do not want to be marketed to, but rather they want to feel apart of something. [2] Research shows that 67 percent of Gen Zers prefer real people over celebrities in ads.  [3] Additionally, 40 percent of teens believe that their favorite Youtuber understands them better than their own friends. [4]

Due to this shift, younger people are connecting with brands in unique ways. Utilizing a social media influencer’s pull is just as much about increasing brand recognition as it is about increasing sales. Whereas Gen Zers’ loyalty to brands has dropped compared to Millennials with only 30 percent favoring loyalty programs (compared to 45 percent for Millennials), their trust in influencers has grown tremendously.  [5]

Influencer Marketing has quickly become the most effective tactic to reach the younger demographic.  This method is generally low-cost, and low-effort.  Once the initial relationship is created between the brand, the influencer and their audience, the tail-end of the initiative is taken care of by user-generated marketing.  User-generated marketing is executed through individuals voluntarily fueling the campaign via likes and re-sharing, making it virtually free.  Furthermore, using an influencer gains your company valuable insight to a niche audience.  The influencer is an expert on their followers’  preferences and behaviors. They possess an understanding of the most effective ways to appeal to their audience, taking the responsibility of user-research off of brands and placing it on the influencer.

If you are looking for successful relationships with influencers, position your brand in a way that allows influencers to support and share your company with their followers.  Making the time to invest in influencer relationships will pay off; according to research, Youtube increases organic search two times as much as television.  [6]

Diversity and Equality

Young shoppers grew up in a world of majority-minority tensions and political controversy. They were, and are, socialized to believe in equality, and even find it trendy.  Inclusion is an expectation. If your brand fails to represent a diverse population, you will fail to capture the respect of Gen Zers. They want to see companies giving back to the community and participating in initiatives that aim to improve society.  To connect with Gen Zers, look into adopting philanthropy that preaches social responsibility and awareness.

As Generation Z matures, their impact will only increase. Connecting with a customer begins with understanding their behavioral characteristics and deeper values.  Do not make the mistake of clumping all young people together.  While grouping the two may seem effective enough at the moment, the success may stem from a slow transition period from one generation to the next.  Older Gen Zers are most similar to Millennials since they are closest in age, yet as the younger generation continues to mature, the differences will become more apparent.

[1] https://genhq.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/State-of-Gen-Z-2018.pdf?inf_contact_key=9e0cb872930abac69c335f50c69d079a1b0a3f0fd3ee5d9b43fb34c6613498d7

[2,4] https://www.forbes.com/sites/deeppatel/2017/11/27/5-d%E2%80%8Bifferences-%E2%80%8Bbetween-%E2%80%8Bmarketing-%E2%80%8Bto%E2%80%8B-m%E2%80%8Billennials-v%E2%80%8Bs%E2%80%8B-%E2%80%8Bgen-z/#5aed95682c9f

[3,5] https://www.visioncritical.com/blog/gen-z-versus-millennials-infographics

[6] https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/youtube-influencer-marketing/#how-to-avoid-the-5-most-common-pitfalls


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