While brands are currently focusing on millennials, by 2020, 40 percent of consumers will come from the next cohort known as Generation Z. What this means is that it’s more important than ever for brands to position their marketing to best capture the attention of their increasing teen audiences. This Generation Z or the “Linkster Generation” was born into a world inundated with technology — this translates to shorter attention spans and more choice. They are looking to get exactly what they want — and to get it as quickly as possible. Not only do Gen Zs know what they want, they are often willing to pay more for increased convenience and care less about bargains than millennials.
Finally, when it comes to Gen Z, don’t expect these teens to be impressed by your new inventions or ideas. Updates, improvements, and “new generations” of products are now expected. This means that both new and existing brands must think of ways to keep adding value or risk disappointing this increasingly important audience. It’s stay ahead, stay on trend, or get left in the branding dust!
Here are five tips to help brands attract the Gen Z audience and keep them coming back:
1. Choose the Right Influencers or Brand Ambassadors
Many teenagers are “influencers”— leaders who set trends among their peer groups and whose opinions matter to friends and family. Recent trends show that popular young YouTube creators and Instagrammers can often have far more appeal to teenage audiences than traditional celebrities. The relatability and accessibility to these social media content creators factors into teenagers’ purchasing decisions. Brands can utilize these social media celebrities to appeal to their teen audiences. While it may be tempting to choose an influencer based on their follower count, this is a classic branding mistake. The key is to select influencers based on their affinity and compatibility to the brand. The best word-of-mouth campaigns emerge when influencers and brands work together to co-create content that matches both their messages. Be sure to avoid images and copy that are too staged or product-focused, as it is far less engaging and limits the “co-creation” aspect that brings the best ROIs.
2. Keep Your Social Media Strategy as Fluid as Possible
Despite Instagram’s efforts to implement new features, Snapchat remains teens’ preferred social media app. Piper Jaffray’s latest report revealed that 47 percent of teens preferred Snapchat, while only 24 percent picked Instagram. This is a big discrepancy from Spring 2015 when only 11 percent of teens preferred Snapchat to another social media channel. The rapid switch in teenagers’ attitudes and behaviors translates into the need for brands to be flexible in their social media strategies in order to make it easy to follow teens’ preferences. As we’ve seen with Facebook, once parents start to occupy and conquer a social media platform, teens tend to move on to the next one — which means your brand should be moving on too!
3. You Have to be in More Than One Place at One Time
If you thought millennials were hard to keep engaged, Generations Z’s attention is even more divided. While millennials use on average three screens, Generation Z’s use five: mobile, TV, laptop, tablet and desktop. This should impact your advertising strategy, which needs to focus on a multichannel approach. Be sure to spread your story across those devices and screens. Taco Bell* introduced its Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos via Twitter’s Vine and mobile messaging app Snapchat.
4. Have a Social Purpose
Gen Z’s buying habits are largely shaped by the fact that they grew up in a recession. These circumstances have made the younger generation not only resourceful, but entrepreneurial. Furthermore, companies that have a social purpose and that are transparent will thrive amongst this age group. According to the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer, 80 percent of informed publics agree that a business can pursue its self-interest while doing good work for society. Young consumers are willing to pay more for brands that have a social purpose that aligns with their beliefs, and that take a stand on topics that matter to them. Brands should find a purpose that matches their brand message and make the collaboration known!
5. Focus on Speed of Service and Convenience
The Linksters are the first generation to have never known a day without technology or mobile access. As the most tech-savvy population, they recognize the value of their attention and the fact that they have choice. As a result, teens rarely sit through ads or pay attention to heavily sponsored content. Instead, they are looking for value, and quick access to resources and entertainment. What this means is that brands need to make it as easy as possible for teens to find the resource or entertainment they are seeking. With delivery options making goods available almost instantly, teenagers have come to expect both goods and content fast. Really fast. On average, a Generation Z consumer has an eight-second attention span. This means that your brand needs to feed teens content and explain why they should care and how it will entertain or help them — all in eight seconds or less. All the more reason to look for the best content creators that have mastered this art.
Livia Dayan is a senior account manager,Digital, Edelman Montreal.