Why should brands care about Gen-Z?

Brands need to navigate cautiously when marketing their brand to Gen-Z, the generation poised to make up 40% of the world population by 2020, writes Litmus Branding’s Kapil Vaishnani

With Gen-Z coming of age, it is time brands relooked at their marketing and branding strategies to attune themselves to this generation. Also known as the Post-Millennials or the iGeneration, Gen-Z is usually considered the generation born between 1995 and 2015, which means the oldest Gen-Z is probably just graduating and entering into the workforce, while the rest of the generation is travelling between their childhood and teenage years. Born as an entirely digitally native generation, marketing to Gen-Z and the coming generations after is going to get tougher and tougher for brands. 

Reimagining brands for the Gen-Z 

While they have things in common with the previous generations like the Millennials and Gen X, these emerging adults have a radically different worldview, considering they grew up in a time marked by digital, social, political and economic commotion. Which is why marketing tactics that appealed to Baby Boomers, Gen X or Millennials cannot be relied on to attract the attention of Gen-Z. India is expected to be the world’s youngest country, with 64 per cent of its population in the working age group by 2020. Globally too, The Fast Company reported that Gen-Z will make up 40 per cent of all consumers by 2020. In the US alone, the current purchasing power of Gen-Z lies approximately at $44 billion. With them joining the workforce in the coming time and making decisions in society and policy, it is of interest to brands to tweak their branding and marketing strategies to accommodate the Gen-Z as a larger part of their focal demographic. 

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How to market to the Gen-Z? 

While Millennials are considered to be tech savvy, the Gen-Z is “Tech Innate”, meaning that they were born in a world where they have never experienced life without the percolation of internet or cell phones. This inherently makes their outlook and desires global in nature. Brands in this case, do not just compete for attention with local competitors but also other global players. 

Get Comfortable in the Digital - With Gen-Z spending a lot of their time online, brands should be seen in the digital space more often rather than newspaper fliers or TV commercials. Brands that can communicate effectively and speak authentically to show their true brand ideals are more likely to be favoured by young adults. Even in Digital, brands need to look at their target demographics and choose what platform works best for them. For instance, most Gen-Zs are flocking to Instagram, Snapchat or YouTube from Facebook, which might be more popular with the older generations. Similarly, this generation is also consuming more visually rich content compared to older formats like text and ads. 

Work with Micro Influencers - This might be the first generation that’s more likely to be influenced on their purchases by micro influencers instead of huge celebrity brand collaborations that they consider as inauthentic. On the other hand, micro influencers have a relatively niche and smaller following, where they regularly engage with their followers in a more authentic manner. Additionally, even if influencers and micro-influencers create paid digital campaigns, it is usually more in tandem with their personal brand and the campaign is curated in a way that seems genuine to followers. 

Move to Mobile - Google moved to mobile-first algorithms about three years ago, with major organisations putting their investments in optimising themselves for the mobile phone. Today, we consume more via our phones than PCs or laptops and our mobile usage is only going to increase. Brands, when deciding their marketing plans should allocate mobile-first initiatives like personalised mobile ads or using in-game advertisements that reach out to people in a highly targeted manner. Gen-Z also uses a lot of messaging apps as well as emojis, as a result of which some brands have effectively created relevant. 

Authentic Communication and Relatability - Born in a world with unprecedented political, economic and environmental uncertainty, the Gen-Z is one of the most suspicious generations and it is easy for them to see through a brand if their initiatives are only marketing gimmicks and not genuine efforts to be connected and ethical. They prefer meaningful and real connection with brands that they like and support instead of standardised PR statements and mass marketing messages. 

They’re opinionated about things that they like and need only a fraction of a second to look up companies, people and brands to decide whether they like it or not. Born amidst Google, YouTube, iPhone, iPod, tablets, internet, podcasts and social media, young adults today have really short span of attention, with the ability to switch between 2 or more screen at one time. So skip all the unnecessary content that might make your videos, ads and articles lengthy. All in all, brands today need to look up and notice the patterns and trends of young adults and complement their behaviour and usage pattern when reaching out to them, all doing so genuinely and in a personal manner. Simply put, brands need to be more real than ever and they have to market without looking like they are marketing. Marketers and organisations need to speak the same language as those they’re trying to influence, because let’s face it - old school marketing is dead. 

(Kapil Vaishnani is the Founder of Litmus Branding, an advertising and branding agency based in Ahmedabad. With over two decades of experience in marketing and designing, Vaishnani has spent considerable time on several marcom and advertising campaigns for clients across different domains.)


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