Gen Zers have a strong brand value tied to social impact.

Generation Z accounts for 27% of the global population and are the world’s first truly global generation. Gen Zers are a diverse lot with countless interests and a dynamic personality. With the power of worldwide connections, this generation is brand savvy and are socially conscious consumers. Recognized widely as the next powerhouse of consumers, brand managers have already determined that this generation will be the key to marketing successes by 2020. However, catering to their unique behavior is nothing but challenging.

Unique to this particular generation is their multifaceted approach to social media platforms. For instance, each platform has a dedicated personality. Instagram is used for their aspirational selves while on Snapchat, they share their real-life moments. Twitter is used to gather news while Facebook is used to scroll through important happenings and events within their network. The social media time of this generation is extremely fragmented with pre-defined behavior to be followed on each platform.

A popular marketing tool for millennials was the use of influencer marketing. However, recent research shows family and friends play a greater role in influencing product purchase decision rather than online influencers. In contrast to the previous generations, Gen Zers are able to see through the influencer marketing tactics and are basing their purchase decisions on opinions and testimonial of their friends and families.

Having acute knowledge of social issues around them, Gen Zers have a strong brand value tied to social impact. They are active participants in social activism and are more likely to support a brand that stands up for a cause, for instance, Starbucks, an extremely popular coffeehouse chain, has managed to capture this generation’s attention by joining the fight against plastics and pledging to eliminate all plastic straws from its stores by 2020. On the other hand, Dell, producers of consumer technology, has an environmentally friendly recycling program that recycles gold from discarded laptop parts into jewellery. These unique concepts have helped brands to subtly attract the Gen Z audience. Understanding and tracking their behavior, is the best way to reach out to this set of audience. Having said that, brands need to make sure that the messages should be clear and concise to avoid being misinterpreted. Companies should be precise in communicating their brand values, philosophies and the causes that they support. While reaching to this generation on social media, brands must be aware of the social media etiquette of each platform. Given that Gen Zers like to consume different aspects of information from multiple platforms, marketers should tailor messages according to each platform.

An emerging trend among the generation is their thirst to actively seek authentic and real experiences. They are more experimental than previous generations and are on a regular lookout for unique experiences. To enhance their experiences, various brands are making utmost use of technology. Artificial Intelligence, better known as AI, is invading the communication world as brands find practical uses for computational intelligence and cognitive machines that learn as they go.

An overwhelming majority of Gen Z consumers like to engage with the brand that they aspire to, hence the look and feel of the brand must be appealing. Involving them in the creation and development of content makes them more responsive and is a step towards creating brand loyalist. This approach is very well mastered by Dove, a beauty products brand. Their Real Beauty campaign features real consumers in commercials instead of models. The inclusion of consumers in marketing efforts has helped Dove to gain a loyal following as well as emphasise Dove’s philosophy of diversity and natural beauty.

Gen Zers have also mastered the art of storytelling, from building a narrative to developing content in their own unique way, they are excellent communicators of their experiences. More often than not, these experiences are broadcasted on their social media channels. With their unique persona and social media behavior, Gen Zers are defying all the traditional marketing approaches. Given that by the year 2020, this generation will constitute for a majority of market share, brands are now, more than ever, eager to capture this generation’s attention.

As Gen Z grows, brands will need to adapt themselves and devise new ways to reach and engage with them. They might be the most unpredictable generation ever but in coming years, the success of any marketing outreach will be determined by them.

Jpd is brand design and creative branding Agency in London and Dubai. Specialising in brand strategy and rebranding.