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“Cut the B.S.” – how to talk to Generation Z

Gen z.jpg

From ‘kickbacks’ to keeping it real, there’s more to Generation Z than their ‘native’ relationship to technology. With the help of our resident Gen Z copywriter, we sifted through the latest studies on the elusive generation – so you don’t have to. Here’s her lowdown on what really makes these politically conscious, truth-seeking, diverse (and extremely valuable) consumers tick – and how, like Veja, Lush and others, your brand can connect with the largest generation ever.

Generation Z are moving away from common online apps (Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook) and increasingly toward alternative platforms like Twitch, TikTok, Imgur and Reddit. Tit bits like this join a smorgasbord of online information and research about Gen Z – the newest, most complicated kids on the marketing block – and the hardest for marketers to wrap their heads around.

Generally understood to be the demographic born between 1995 and 2015 (though it depends on your source), the post-millennial cohort are predicted to represent approximately 40% of all consumers by 2020. They are also on track to become the largest generation in human history.

In one study* 40% said they believe having access to WiFi is more important than a working bathroom. Hardly surprising, when the group spend an estimated 10.6 hours consuming online content a day.

Marketing to Generation Z 

Their native relationship with technology means if you’re wanting to start marketing to Generation Z, you’ve got to work fast. With a mere eight seconds to capture their attention as they consume online content – across an average of five different screens – your brand needs to stand out.

Having grown up in the age of Cambridge Analytica, Fyre Festival and fake news, they place a lot of value on privacy and truth. The group have, according to Forbes, a “very strong B.S. Meter” – meaning they know authenticity when they see it. 

Years and years of scrolling online means two things: poor eyesight – and the ability to separate an abundance of online information into fact and fiction, drawing their own conclusions using multiple sources. 

This means that winning Gen Z’s trust is integral to connecting with them. Nearly half – 43% – say they trust well-established, authentic brands, and will continue to buy from them for a long time. This is where the importance of quality, trustworthy journalism and reporting comes in. 

By incorporating journalistic training and standards into brand storytelling – by actively choosing to be accurate, honest and unbiased, and having a track record of doing so – creating a marketing strategy for Gen Z and ultimately winning their trust will be that little bit easier. 

Don’t follow the pack 

Gen Z don’t want to look and act like everyone else. For them, difference is desirable. They want products that they feel are unique to them – and overall, have a preference for content that reflects diversity and a more realistic image of life. 

Indeed, 63% prefer marketing to come from real people, doing real things – something to which we can attribute the success of YouTubers such as Zoella, DanTDM and KSI.

Some brands have cottoned on to Gen Z’s desire to swap the gloss of magazines for the grit of real life – and are seeing a massive return on investment, or lack of it. Sustainable sneaker brand, Veja, for example, opted for a ‘no marketing, marketing’ policy, which they claim invests in “reality rather than fiction” and relies on “collective intelligence” to boost sales.

Similarly, cruelty-free cosmetics company, Lush, recently rocked the boat by completely abandoning all of their social media channels – including an Instagram following of 570,000 – expressing their wish for social to be “more about passions, and less about likes”. 

Here, a growing trend toward, and popularity of, the ‘real’ appears manifest, even if it is still obviously a manufactured and self-conscious move.

Gen Z are also particularly health conscious, preferring juice bars to pub crawls or ‘kickbacks’– socialising without alcohol – to binge drinking. A significant 94% use health and lifestyle habits (such as organic eating, chia seeds and yoga at dawn) to look after their mental health. 

So what does this tell us? That there is more to them than technology and tailoring your content to be a) always-on and b) cognisant of their values, is sure to pay off.

Perhaps the most important aspect for marketers to consider is that Gen Z’s proclivity to ‘realness’ translates into their social and political consciousness. Nearly 50% of Gen Z support brands that have integrity and take a stand on issues they believe in regarding human rights, race, sexual orientation and climate change. 

This is potentially informed by the fact that Gen Z are the most racially diverse generation to date (in the US, half are from minority backgrounds), as well as the most sexually fluid. Gen Z are far less likely to identify solely as heterosexual and are generally moving sexuality ‘beyond the binary’. 

The bottom line

Though distinguished by their woke, truth-telling, non-binge drinking habits, Gen Z are still a savvy set of consumers who know exactly what they want from brands: diversity, inclusivity and authenticity. 

Any marketers aiming to capture their attention have got a battle on their hands. However, if you can create content that is trustworthy, real and relevant to their lives, you’ll be able to connect with perhaps the most powerful consumer we’ve ever seen. 

Sources: *Allied Pixel

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