Will Generation Z Hate Your Brand Next Year?

Born between 1995 and 2010, Generation Z’s appointment as the in vogue consumer group marks a substantial shift that will affect all brands.

These digital natives are inherently different from their millennial predecessors, and resonating with them will require a strategic overhaul to inspire long-term advocacy.

And while marketers can tout stats like 40% of shoppers will be Gen Z by 2020, many are in danger of making the same mistakes as before. Yes, they are ambitious, entrepreneurial and most want nothing more than to eradicate inequality; however, these characteristics seldom go hand-in-hand with their purchasing habits.

As Love Food’s Beth Trundle explains, Gen Z’s belief systems are very separate from their decisions as consumers. According to an Accenture survey, value for money ranks higher for this generation than a brand’s ethics. What does this tell marketers? Winning over Gen Z requires one to look at the bigger picture first.

Here are our predictions and observations for the year ahead.

Gen Z will be less susceptible to ads than past generations

It’s a damaging misconception that Gen Z is anti-advertising. Nevertheless, there is evidence to suggest that traditional – and some digital – ads will be less effective at reaching them. Take programmatic, for instance: 75% of Gen Z now admit to using adblocking software, which renders desktop display ads obsolete. According to Kantar Millward Brown, 69% actively avoid physical ads too.

The issue with most advertising today is that it is irrelevant. Gen Z is bombarded with marketing, hence why they place so much importance on personalisation. Facebook targeting, with the help of in-depth social listening analytics, is a far more effective way to generate intrigue among this demographic.

But don’t settle for a static ad; video is the future, which also opens up a new conversation about branded content. With the advent of Facebook Watch and LIVE, there stands an opportunity for brands to reach Gen Z through original shows and long-term partnerships with their favourite publishers or creators. These can raise awareness and more conversation than traditional ads.

They will be the first to communicate only through instant messaging

Part of understanding Gen Z’s receptiveness to certain marketing is knowing how they communicate and use social media. Unlike millennials, this emerging group of teens and early twenty-somethings are very private. They have a preference for closed apps, like Instagram and Snapchat, where messages are ephemeral and out of view.

But it’s the arrival of instant messaging that holds the most promise for brands hoping to reach this generation. From ordering takeaway to purchasing clothing products, the scope of what brands can achieve through Messenger is spectacular. Nevertheless, dialogue depends on Gen Z giving their consent first; therefore, brands must provide value beyond ads.

Gen Z’s are willing to exchange their data for value

The rise of messaging apps sheds further light on Gen Z’s attitudes to their data, which will be another major talking point in 2018. Being tech-savvy, most believe that Gen Z’s are protective over such details. Research from ContentSquare shows that 61% of Gen Z’s place great importance on the storage of this information – though that’s hardly a generational thing.

However, an opposing finding from CrowdTwist shows that 75% would exchange their data with a brand in return for a more personalised experience. Gen Z was not born yesterday (not quite) – they understand that better advertising requires better data. It’s a two-way street, and a value exchange must take place on both sides.

The key to reaching them will be through brand advocacy

For any brand, the end-game must be to develop long-term affinity at a time when most Gen Z’s are making their first purchase decisions. The stereotypical Gen Z is less trusting and somewhat fickle. To a degree, it’s true – they have grown up in a world of choice, which means there is naturally less of a focus on brand loyalty.

However, by empowering Gen Z and opening their eyes to experiences – both online and offline, marketers can begin to make advocates of this cohort. Investing in advocacy can also be beneficial for brands to reach other Gen Z’s. While influencer marketing has been popular with millennials, younger audiences are far more receptive to authenticity. In the end, it all comes down to trust.

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