Connecting with the cord-cutters
Eleven-year-old Anna's dreams of being a policewoman have been replaced by an overwhelming desire to conquer the organic lip-balm sector through her flourishing YouTube channel. Confidently mastering Waze before navigating the tethering of their own shoelaces the newest generation, Generation Z, takes on the world with optimistic savvy.
Known as the digital natives, these consumers allow themselves the time to 'figure it out' and intuitively discover what brands have to offer them. With Gen-Z's enhanced capacity to learn and multi-task across split-screens and various platforms, the online world has never functioned so effectively. Communicating mainly on wireless technology, Gen-Z have cut the cords, opting to connect on-the-go. Whilst digital immigrants remember the endless days of library research, the cord-cutting Gen-Z's scroll the App store for the newest time saving app.
This online immediacy has ensured the buying process is user friendly and easy for those scrambling for last minute gifts and emergency purchases. So easy that perhaps the buying experience has lost its novelty. Has technology dulled the excitement behind purchasing overall or are we looking to appeal to the way the newest generation behaves?
Moving into 2017 – we've looked at the top 10 insights which should inform how we as marketeers approach the beast we know to be Gen-Z:
1.Transparency is Key
If you fake it you certainly won't make it. Gen-Z can sniff out any kind of forced advertising and will almost instantaneously disengage. Marketers have to appeal to the fun side of people – unfiltered and transparently. E! Online used both Snapchat and Tumblr to advertise the new season of Orange is the New Black – set as a 'teaser' E! Online released snaps through a "contraband phone" of scenes in the prison from various episodes. The posts resulted in over 45k engagements – overall an amusing and intriguing teaser campaign.
2.Right here, Right Now
Because Gen-Z have the ability to multitask across different platforms the content being pushed out has to be engaging and current or they will simply move on to another brand that projects a more relevant outlook and is easily accessible. Loyalty is not long-lasting. Social media never sleeps.
3.Things are not 'a thing'
Technology over the years stands as a key marker for generations - Baby Boomers like it face-to-face, Gen X prefer telephone or emails, and millennials project on social media through status updates. Gen Z are the cord cutters, the record-less communicators that leave no paper trail. Platforms that host such functions like Snapchat and Instagram stories allow Gen-Z the ability to obtain this communicative instant gratification whilst fearlessly moving on to the next platform. With content curation being a thing of the past for Gen-Z and materialism seen as 'uncool', brands struggle to find the right form of engagement that ticks both the box of unique experience and brand engagement.
Twitter recognised the difference between the mass influencers and the individual masses. Twitter acts as a platform for those to express themselves – to throw something out into the universe and see what comes back. It is the platform that allows the individual masses to find people who feel the same way as you on specific content. Twitter is an individual's real-time connection to information and people. Brands need to use these platforms to recognise these interests and use them when trying to understand and further connect with their consumers. This year Twitter moved to the News section of the App Store showing how Twitter is your live connection to the world and its people.
Nothing better than a back stage pass? Facebook Live has been around for a while now and has only been effectively buffed with a new pre-stream 'lobby' (waiting area), saving time and increasing pre-live chat. Much like NFL decided to partner with Twitter and debut their live viewing and commentary throughout the game. Your phone is a small TV in your pocket and the cordless creatures of the universe are big fans.
Facebook Business saw the insight first - the lines between work and play are becoming ever-more blurred as people start using social media platforms to connect with others, schedule meetings and discuss projects. "Great companies are built on great connections. It's not just about the guy at the top it's about everyone in the team and how they work together." Gone are the days where Facebook and Instagram were seen as social play. These are the resources rich in knowledge, inspiration and ultimately people. Facebook Workplace, soon to launch in the US, encompasses all that is 'working-play' - whether it is through music, images or text, no platform should be limited in the workplace.
7.Dark Social Beware
Gen-Z, extremely competent in technological advancements, find themselves looking towards platforms that provide privacy. Without geolocation settings, trackers and analytics Gen-Z also favour the private networks that dark social offer such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat and Whisper for their day to day conversations. These apps allow users a similar experience to face-to-face conversations and use little data loading video-heavy streams and adverts. Consumers want to feel like people, not commodities to which brands such as MTV took on board early in 2014. Using the anonymous social sharing app, Whisper, MTV launched a show Virgin Territory. Using key words such as "virgin", "virginity" and "v-card" users were given the option to use MTV-branded backgrounds for their image-based posts. Other brands such as Disney and Coke use these anonymous platforms to reach out to Gen-Z and their need for privacy and self-expression.
8.Bots – let's go shopping
Machines may be taking over a large section of the purchasing process however people are becoming more comfortable dealing with these 'bots' in order to establish a more seamless customer experience. 'Smart home' devices such as Amazon Echo, Google Home and Ivee are just the beginning of digital personal assistants that use artificial intelligence. Gen-Z demand the best service in the shortest amount of time, the all-access experience.
9.Give me an adventure, an experience to remember
Gen-Z are the socially led experimenters wishing to express themselves through personalisation. Their values are not embedded in materialistic objects but rather chase the excitement of experiences. Spending most of their money on concerts, festivals, social experiences or athletic pursuits, Gen-Z appreciates brands that allow them the space to connect with their friends and drive fresh conversations. Travel and entertainment being a prime space these kids look to be part of something, avoiding the fatal "FOMO" at all costs.
10.Your opinion doesn't matter
Theirs does. Influencers are not an unfamiliar discussion point but brands still don't seem to be getting this right. 'Celebrities' are now more accessible than ever through Snapchat, YouTube, Vine and Instagram, but what makes a celebrity? These social platforms are what drive Gen-Z to reach social status and further their viewers to create fresh and inventive content themselves. Brands need to inspire viewers to be creative and innovative by using these celebrities that reach out directly to them rather than those that reach out to the masses.
So what do we think? No, advancements in technology and social media have not dulled the excitement behind purchasing but rather adapted to the needs of the newest cord-cutting generation. Gen-Z, we know, demand privacy but still want to be heard. No fool to marketing ploys, they're able to transfer intellectual thought over many platforms at one time and, most importantly it all occurs instantaneously. Technological advances drive so much about what we know about Gen-Z and we must use these digital tools whilst still remembering to connect with the human that desires a creative, fun and engaging campaign.