Generation Z; Overly-sensitive, vegan, social media obsessed and misunderstood. While Gen Z seems to have many (less than favourable) labels, are they really that different from the generations of youth before them? It’s nothing new for youth culture to influence trends and crazes, but Gen Z seems poised to shake up the system in-terms of, well, everything. The question is no longer “how can my brand target my customers” but “how can my brand remain relevant in a market where consumers are unafraid to hold brands accountable?”
Who are the Generation Z?
Generation Z is self-proclaimed as perhaps the most misunderstood generation of all-time. Born during the mid 90’s and through to the mid to late 2000’s, the Gen Z cohort suffers from an unfortunately fuzzy delineation between generations. Most Zoomers have never known a world without the internet, mobile phones, and social media. While Millennials may roll their eyes at the younger generation feeling misunderstood, it’s impossible (and quite frankly reckless) to overlook how growing up with constant technological, societal, and political developments has moulded Gen Z as individuals and future consumers.
Innovation, Innovation, Innovation
Growing up with the internet for the entirety of their lives has meant Gen Z has experienced a non-stop barrage of technological innovation. This has provided them with access to more choices than ever before. As a result, Generation Z is more likely to spend money on brands that are innovative. Innovation remains a cornerstone in their purchasing desires whether it be technological, or design based. Brands who wish to successfully capitalise on the Gen Z market need to be prepared to push for innovation.
Hidden Fears of Financial Insecurity
Brand sensitive but not brand loyal, Gen Zers are likely to be somewhat conservative in where and what they decide to spend their money on. This is a consequence of growing up in uncertain financial times and witnessing the crippling debt of their Millennial predecessors. While some Gen Zers may respond with cautious investing and saving, others may choose to avoid arbitrary spending or unnecessary product purchases as an attempt to achieve long-term financial security.
Enjoyment of Escapism
Due in part to the helicopter trends of their parents, Gen Z slightly mirrors the pressures of previous generations, but with different stressors. This has led to a yearning for goods and services that cater to the idea of escapism. The allure of escapism has been facilitated and encouraged through advances in tech, which have provided 24/7 access to social media, greater mobility in devices, and video games with ever-advancing graphics and features.
So how can you adapt your branding, messaging, and actions to assure they are meeting the needs of this influential generation as they enter and transform the buyer’s market?
1. Widen Your Scope
Does your brand’s segmentation include Gen Z? Shifting your segmentation to include a younger audience is essential if you wish to remain relevant. Shifting to support a wider audience is not only beneficial for attracting Zoomers, but for entering newer and often more niche markets. Start by identifying brand elements that could be utilised to refresh your brand identity and messaging.
2. Be Picky
Small changes can be made by focusing on key brand assets and exploring ways to modernise them. Subtly elevating your brand to make it more contemporary will help your brand appeal to a younger audience without alienating your established base. Think edgy accent colours and font modifications. Brands may also want to reevaluate how their product stands out against others on the shelves. A packaging agency is a fantastic resource when it comes to modifying subtle design assets and elements of product packaging.
3. Collaborate Consciously
For many brands, a complete rebrand is often too expensive. Collaborations are cost-effective and calculated actions that can often be more beneficial than a total redesign. Choosing to collaborate with brands and influencers that appeal to potential customers outside your normal target audience can have transformative effects. It is vital that collaborations be deliberate and conscious, with partners that share common values as well as aspirational ones.
4. Be Bold and Authentic
Gen Z is unapologetic about the values and ethics they expect from brands. It is essential that you communicate your brand’s values in a way that exemplifies them. Gen Z is very aware when brands use trends and other methods as marketing ploys, and they aren’t afraid to call out brands for bad behaviour. It’s vital that your brand expresses what is important to them, but it’s even more crucial that you mean it.