Does a socially-engaged market segment with a spending power of 140 billion dollars sound appealing? Well, then meet Gen Z.
“Gen Z” commonly refers to the 73 million people born after 1996. While this is a broad interpretation, every member of Gen Z shares one defining characteristic: the internet has been a “thing” from the time they were born. They are digitally fluent and have a unique perspective related to brands, branding, and how companies market their products.
These consumers may be young, but they have tremendous spending power. Even for those on the younger side who may not be leading a household yet. In fact, 82 percent of parents say their Gen Z children influence household purchases and 40 percent of global commerce can be attributed to Gen Z.
The fact is, Gen Z is the most diverse generation to date, however, like other generations, their shared life experiences lead them to have similar behaviors.
Gen Z engages with brands through social. They are 59 percent more likely than older generations to connect with brands on social networks (especially Instagram).
Gen Z also becomes brand-aware via social. Eighty-five percent of Gen Z members learn about new products using social networks (again preferring Insta). They are twice as likely as Millennials to turn to YouTube and TikTok before making a purchase decision.
Gen Z is smart and resourceful. They access information in the moment to make buying decisions, including when they shop with brick-and-mortar retailers.
Gen Z is financially savvy. They have grown up in an economically chaotic era and are more likely to save and invest their money than previous generations at this life stage.
Gen Z is independent, self-reliant, and entrepreneurial. If they can’t find the right opportunities, they create them.
Gen Z is always online. This is the first generation that has grown up using the internet from an early age. It’s not surprising that online resources are the first places they turn to for information. For most Gen Z members, social networks are their central method for socializing.
Gen Z is diverse. One in four members of this generation are Hispanic, 14 percent are African American, six percent are Asian, and five percent are other races or identify as biracial.
Gen Z seeks out ethical brands. They access information and develop a point of view quickly when making purchase decisions. Seventy percent of Gen Z respondents to a recent McKinsey survey said they try to purchase from companies they consider ethical.
Gen Z wants to be involved in the brand experience. A recent Adobe survey found that 64 percent of Gen Z shoppers believe brands should provide personalized experiences.
Experiential marketing tactics that tap into the enormous buying power of Gen Z focus on a central theme: fun, authentic engagement.
No matter what approach you take, remember that the goal for connecting with Gen Z is, well, connection. This generation expects more from the brands they follow. Focus on campaigns that show you understand and care about them as people.
Gamification applies game-design elements and principles to non-game contexts, and Gen Z loves it.
Gamification techniques are successful because they:
Half of Gen Z members surveyed in a recent study said they prefer learning through gameful approaches. Forty-two percent said they would participate in an online game for a campaign, and forty-three percent would write an online review. In another survey, 60 percent of Gen Z consumers said they would be more likely to buy from a brand if they enjoyed playing a game with it.
Successful gamification inspires deep engagement and responsiveness.
Brands with purpose have never been more relevant. Forbes recently reported that “The fascinating and useful Kantar Purpose 2020 study demonstrates that brands with perceived positive impact (in other words, which are perceived to be purposeful) outperform brands who are not or only partially. Over a period of 12 years the brands with high perceived positive impact have a brand value growth of 175%, versus 86% for medium positive impact and 70% for low positive impact.”
Much of this is driven by Millennials and Gen Z. These groups often prioritize their spend and engagement based on how an organization or brand is doing actual good in this world.
Experiential marketing tactics are often successfully used to highlight your brand’s larger purpose. Your campaign might raise money for a cause or demonstrate why your brand is worth investing in. For example, U.K. telecommunications company Sky launched the Sky Ocean Rescue campaign to advocate for ocean health. The campaign features Plasticus the Whale, who was made of a quarter ton of plastic, the same amount that enters our oceans every second. Sky used experiential marketing to demonstrate their larger purpose and did so in a memorable and high-impact way.
Gen Z is on track to be the most diverse, best-education generation yet. Don’t underestimate their ability to read the room. These savvy consumers recognize inauthenticity from a mile away. Equal representation is critical to them. Fill your brand ambassador team with people who represent your target audience whenever you can.
The British beauty brand Soap & Glory’s experiential marketing approach is an excellent example of the power of authentic brand ambassadorship. Their “Glory Girls” embodied the brand and enticed customers to become a part of the Soap & Glory brand experience. At the brand’s activations they provided makeovers, distributed samples, led dance classes, and put on performances, all while warmly inviting the public to join them.
Connecting with Gen Z is on the top of the marketing list for many modern brands. When brands focus on experiential marketing tactics that offer an authentic, engaging brand experience, they’re sure to succeed.