New Research Reveals Top Strategies for Marketers Looking to Connect with Gen Z Consumers
Generation Z (Gen Z) consumers are 1.5 times more likely to follow a brand that provides content that boosts their own image, according to Gartner, Inc. Where previous generations were concerned with fitting in, Gartner research — which was presented at Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo in San Diego, April 29-May 1 — shows that Gen Z consumers are breaking that mold by creating and enjoying greater freedom to test and shape an identity that stands out.
“Gen Z consumers are the most diverse generation ever and the most digitally savvy,” said Jack Mackinnon, senior principal analyst at Gartner. “As digital natives, Gen Z is highly critical of the benefits and ROI of too much internet and social media use. Because of this, and the fact that two-thirds of marketing budgets are invested in digital channels to target this audience, CMOs must be evermore mindful of how they are engaging Gen Z.”
In fact, Gartner research reveals that 81% of Gen Z consumers report they follow friends online, but only about 30% are following brands. However, Gen Z consumers also report that they do look to brands for social content that is informative and inspirational.
Brands looking to truly connect with this generation need to perfect two aspects of their digital campaigns — an effective strategy and resonant content that piques Gen Z interest.
Strategy: Boost Their Brand
Gen Z consumers take communicating on social media seriously, as they view it as a way to build their own personal brand. Forty-six percent of Gen Z consumers agree with the statement, “the more ‘likes’ I receive on social media, the better I feel” — all with the intent of adding value to their followers’ online experience. When looking for informative and inspirational content to share, they want it to meet one of three requirements: 1) it interests/excites me; 2) it will make my friends laugh; and 3) it expresses how I’m feeling.
“If you want Gen Z as loyal customers, you have to let them do the driving,” said Mr. Mackinnon. “Effective marketers need to embrace the sidecar role with enthusiasm and position their brand strategy around boosting Gen Z’s own personal brand. It’s not about you, it’s about them.”
Another essential part of reaching Gen Z is knowing where to reach them. Given the generation’s affinity for routinely changing social media apps, marketers must ensure their strategy has balance across social media platforms — Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube must all have a unique and relevant engagement strategy.
Content: Leverage Their Values
Every effective digital strategy needs relevant and compelling content, and the content that is most relevant for Gen Z is rooted in their personal values. Identity, creativity and passion are still in the top 20 values for Gen Z, but new priority values that have emerged for this generation include tenacity and expertise, according to Gartner research. Gen Z consumers are the first to report that “fun” is now less important than it once was for previous generations.
“This is indicative of a much more serious generation than what we’ve seen in the past,” added Mr. Mackinnon. “Gen Z values the concept of not quitting until they’ve achieved their goal. They put the adult in young adult.”
While they don’t expect brands to save the world, Gen Z does expect brands to engage with social and political issues, according to Gartner research. Being able to take a stance on an important and relevant social issue that is appropriate for the brand, is key to capturing the attention, loyalty and wallet share of Gen Z.
“Brands will need to demonstrate Gen-Z-level seamless movement across digital and in real life, hone thoughtful and personal messaging, and be willing to speak out on relevant social issues. Failing at any of these points means falling out of step with these important tastemakers,” added Mr. Mackinnon. “Individuality, discernment and openness will continue to be the name of the game for this large, diverse and adaptable generation.”