The terms “millennials” and “Gen Z” have become umbrella phrases for many brands, but it’s oversimplifying to refer to millennials and Gen Z as “the younger workforce” or “the younger audience” – no longer can we group individuals merely based on their demographics. Brands are changing the way they advertise themselves, create products, and engage with customers as a result of these generations’ mindsets and increasing social awareness.
Generation Z is true digital natives; having grown up learning about the world through smartphones and iPads, a greater emphasis is placed on visuals as a result. Humans digest images 60,000 times quicker than text, making visual material far more popular than written information. In order to be popular, things must be more than just practical, they must also be aesthetically appealing.
Brand purpose is critical to reaching these generations – people are considering why they should invest in the brand rather than just purchasing a product. Don’t get caught out – brands must practice what they preach and have transparent core values – the last thing you want is to go viral for the wrong reasons.
— Patagonia (@patagonia) September 16, 2021
With so many companies desperate to connect with Gen Z, many are jumping on the activism bandwagon to participate in issues such as climate change and Black Lives Matter without actually doing anything behind the scenes; they’re merely exploiting activism as a medium to connect with young audiences rather than believing in their principles.
On the other hand, being reserved and saying nothing can also come across negatively. Staying silent on important issues does not make you neutral; rather it portrays your brand as hesitant to stand up for what is right, which might alienate individuals.
Your brand identity should be apparent in everything that it does – it should make sense and align with both values and products given as brand trust is built through consistency and authenticity.
Social media is a logical place to start connecting with millennials and Gen Z as it offers a direct way to engage with your audience through the mediums they use natively. Although, when it comes to strengthening brand awareness, capturing users’ attention isn’t as easy because aren’t competing in silo, but also with popular user content including viral vertical videos and funny memes. Content is king in order to grab this visually aware generation, and they don’t like to feel “marketed” to. TikTok champion this notion with their “Don’t make ads, make TikTok’s” campaign.
“On TikTok, no matter how big or small your business, no matter what you’re making or selling, we believe your brand deserves to be discovered here. How? By not thinking like advertisers and behaving like creators. By tapping into the uniqueness of our users and the space they love. By making TikToks.”
It’s a workout anywhere kinda shoe. Reebok athlete Christian Harris’ sweat game proves it. #NanoX1Adventure
Focus on creating content that fits natively into a user’s timeline – it should feel as organic as the Gemma Collins memes and #housespo videos that the algorithm keeps serving them (ok, I’m calling myself out here). Content should provoke a response and when done right, can cause people to fall in love with your brand; it is a strong tool for influencing individuals to become customers. Organic content is best used to create a story around each post that accurately represents your brand’s ethos. It’s a great place to spark conversations with your customers and foster a community of fans who will actively promote your brand rather than passively purchasing. Successful, engaging content can result in strengthened brand awareness, a positive perception of your company and increased purchasing intent.
You likely have a good concept of who your target audience is, but considering Gen Z’s open-mindedness and willingness to try new things, you may be surprised by the broad appeal your products have within this generation.
Millennials and Gen Z are used to seeing advertisements constantly, therefore they don’t mind being served advertisements, as long as they are relevant. 38% prefer online ads that are relevant to their browsing history or lifestyle choices. Gen Z wants brands they follow to make them feel known and understood. Instead of launching a broad, blanket campaign, personalise your advertisement to each group of people you want to reach, capturing their attention with a tailored message. Since both generations are so digitally connected, they are very aware when it comes to advertising tactics. Marketing collateral should feature a diverse spectrum of individuals, which can be generated through influencer marketing and user-generated content.
Internalising your brand’s values and ensuring you have an authentic, transparent, and inclusive purpose should saturate everything you do and produce.
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