In its seventh consecutive year, our youth trends marketing conference Share.Like.Buy is set to bring together the best and brightest from across the marketing industry on October 18-19 in Washington, D.C. Both on-stage and among the audience, there will be brand stewards, agencies, researchers, analysts, authors, journalists, influencers and youth trend experts who are set to educate the market at large about what’s next when it comes to the enigmatic Millennial generation – and their successors, Generation Z.
One such agency is CASSANDRA, which offers insights, research and strategy for Fortune 500 companies regarding youth generations’ emerging trends and behaviors. Davianne Harris, Senior Director of Brand Strategy, and Melanie Shreffler, Senior Director of Insights, will be presenting “Buy Me or By Me: The Rise of Gen Z Influencers.” We spoke with them for a special sneak peak:
Q: Being adept at tuning out promotional messaging, how – or from whom –are Gen Zers getting their information about products and services in the marketplace?
A: Gen Zs don’t know a time when they haven’t been marketed to, so they are adept at tuning out anything that resembles advertising—and they make the decision to pay attention or not in a matter of seconds. They don’t want to be “sold” to and prefer to learn about and adopt brands through their peers as opposed to ads or marketers themselves. When they do choose to interact with brands, they look to them to either provide entertainment or, when they need it, to offer functional information about their products or services (e.g., origin, sustainability practices, etc.). Furthermore, while young people still know and like celebrities, their ability to infuse a brand with their cool is waning in the eyes of Zs.
Q: What can brands do to reach this generation, knowing that they are not interested in traditional means of advertising?
A: Brands must shift from traditional advertising that focuses on convincing consumers to buy or engage with the brand to finding ways to authentically connect with consumers via their passion points. Consumers are no longer a captive audience but a moving target, literally. And while brands have learned to adopt a mobile-first approach, few have figured out how to do this well. Most mobile ads are perceived by Zs as being too disruptive, while others do too good of a job blending into platforms and fail to stand out. Meanwhile, the ancient power of word of mouth is enjoying a resurgence thanks to the accessibility of influencers.
Q: What are brands doing that misses the mark with Gen Z?
A: The biggest mistake we see brands making with Gen Zs is the oversimplification of their world view. Zs appreciate optimism, but they’ve been raised with an unfiltered view of the world by their Xer parents. They recognize that it takes hard work to effect change.
Q: What brands are reaching Gen Z in the right way?
A: Adidas is doing an amazing job reaching Zs with their influencer-focused marketing that embraces the creator. In addition, Zs appreciate the ability to customize and achieve a one-of-a-kind look, and Adidas delivers this as well. Sephora is also resonating with Zs. They have a broad range of products which fits their need for choice and personalization. However, they have solved for the challenge of their daunting selection with clever digital tools to help young shoppers find what is most relevant and fitting for them. Sephora also enables consumers to put forth their best self with the various tutorials and online communities that feature influencers or peers who deliver the content.
Haven’t registered yet for the conference yet? Never fear! There are still spots available for regular registration here. And for those unable to travel to Washington, we are debuting Live Video Stream registration with three options: Day One, Day Two or Entire Conference. Each allows registrants to submit questions to the speakers and chat with other online viewers in real time. Register here!
Want more on Gen Z? Stay tuned for Jeff Fromm & Angie Read’s new book, Marketing to Gen Z, coming Spring 2018. Pre-order here!