What Brands Should Know About Gen Z
Forget ‘Generation Z’. 13-22 year olds have now been dubbed ‘Super Creatives’ - a term I much prefer, as a Gen Z child myself.
My name is Eva; I am one of Truffle’s in-house ‘Super Creatives’ and I’d like to give you a breakdown of what my generation responds to, how we consume and general stuff to be aware of, particularly if you’re a brand looking to market to me and my peers.
We are the first generation that doesn’t know life without The Internet. As such, technology plays a role in almost every aspect of our lives. For us, technology is a creative outlet: whether it’s working out how to edit the perfect Instagram picture which slots perfectly into our feed, to directing the funniest ten second video our Snapchat followers have ever seen.
But it isn’t just photo editing, picture taking or video footage we have grown up working with. AR (augmented reality) lenses, the ability to face swap, add special effects and manipulate images at the swipe of a finger are all things we are very comfortable with. This means that we are able to portray any message our hearts desire, in almost any way we want. Whether we want to transform each of our followers into planet-saving warriors, start our own internet-dominating empire, or just release our deepest creative thoughts to the world, we can.
But don’t just take my words for granted. Shapchat recently released a report highlighting that 55% percent of Generation Z find the social media apps and Internet a more creative space than anything offline. Just one of the many findings showing that Gen Z is unlike any other generation before them.
Companies that want to reach us, the Super Creatives, need to Step. Up. Their. Game. In a world of constant creativity flow, you need to stand out. You need to produce the unexpected, the wild, the insane. At Truffle, we are all about harnessing the platforms which allow you to be unexpected, wild and insane, and using them to help you fit into the ever-changing, ever awe-inspiring social media universe.
Here are some of the top things brands need to know to avoid being ‘#Cancelled’ by our generation:
We are hyper-connected, so you should be too
It is less likely these days that we find a website by just stumbling across it on Google. No, we find companies websites through what our friends send us through Pinterest, what is trending on Twitter, what is on our explore Instagram page or whatever influencers are chatting about on YouTube. Therefore, you need to be hyper-connected on all social media platforms, with a super attractive feed or witty tweets (tone of voice permitting), as we are not afraid to voice our opinions on each and every topic. Brands that truly want to engage with us need to speak our language.
Take a look at TikTok, for example. In case you’ve been living under a rock, TikTok is a social media platform which allows people to harness their creativity through short, often funny and musical videos. The app was downloaded 104 million times on Apple's App Store during the full first half of 2018, surpassing Facebook, YouTube and Instagram to become the world's most downloaded iOS app for that time period. It has generated its own stars and influencers, building their own empires with millions of followers.
Influencers and emerging creatives love it too. It’s a great platform for budding musicians to show off their musical talents to the world, allowing those with a popular following to get record deals or release their own singles. It is said that “TikTok empowers artists by being an avenue for visual output and creativity,” which is why there has been such a boom.
What we love more, however, are companies who grip the benefits of advertising on TikTok by the horns, and get creative on the platform. For example, back in May, Chipotle experimented with a paid marketing campaign, working with influencer David Dobrik on the #ChipotleLidFlip challenge—asking users to flip a Chipotle container and land it just right. This campaign got a whopping 100,000 submissions and 230 million views. So, maybe it is time to join the billions of others who have downloaded the app, and start playing around! And if you need help harnessing your creativity, we are always here to help 😉.
We know about everybody’s business, all the time
No, I’m not saying we know what you had for breakfast this morning, but we do know what ridiculous nonsense Trump said in his last speech that aired 2.5 seconds ago, and how many pieces of plastic end up in our oceans per hour. And we CARE about it. So, if you’re even 5 minutes behind and not ‘keeping with the programme’, you’re already too late.
From politics to the economy and climate change, our generation chooses its favourite brands based on whether their values align with ours.
Take Patagonia, for example. Patagonia is so much more than just a clothing brand. The company has built its business around a solid foundation - to enable people to explore the outdoors through, yes, selling great clothing, but also by preserving the planet.
In its communications, the brand usually does the complete opposite of what you’d expect from retailers. My favourite campaign was Patagonia’s 2011 Black Friday activation, where the brand put out an advert of their best-selling product, a jacket, with the caption “Don’t Buy This Jacket”. It explained that the jacket has “an environmental cost higher than its price,” and encouraged people not to buy what they don’t need. It also donated 100% of Black Friday profits to organisations working to create positive change for the planet. Heros disguised in a Nano Puff jacket, if you ask me.
We are INCLUSIVE
It is so 2000-and-late if you don’t have a woman, a person of colour, or a member of the LGBTQ+ community featured in your communications. And frankly, it’s just rude. That said, don’t do inclusivity for inclusivity’s sake. If you only feature diverse messaging in your campaigns without ACTUALLY being inclusive, we WILL call you out. Oh yes, and we will choose another brand over yours.
Anyway, back to the inclusiveness factor...We love seeing how industries are taking steps to become more diverse.
Take the beauty community on YouTube as an example. Beauty videos are one of the most popular uploads onto the platform, and for a long time women dominated the sphere. Brands love collaborating with YouTubers, as when a ‘beauty guru’ recommends a product, their sales instantly skyrocket. But recently, there has been a massive increase in men wrestling their way to top - and they made it! Some of the most popular beauty influencers today are guys, such as Jeffree Star, who now has his own makeup empire called Jeffree Star Cosmetics, and James Charles who has a measly 15 million subscribers.
This has encouraged established make-up companies such as NYX, MAC and Morphe to include men and drag queens in their campaign shoots, and even collaborate with them to create their own make-up products.
Another company that I must mention is CPG giant, P&G. P&G delved into the world of necessary controversy with its campaign ‘My Black is Beautiful’. The incredibly moving video depicts African-American mothers having a talk with their children, telling them about the discrimination that they will undoubtably face during their lives (if you haven’t watched it, I suggest you click the link above; do have a pack of Kleenex nearby though).
It might seem unnecessary for a company selling laundry detergents, shampoos and cough syrups to be talking about racism, but it makes a lot of (business) sense. “Great advertising opens hearts and changes minds, but doesn’t have to stop there. We believe great advertising can inspire real, lasting change. That’s the aspiration behind ‘The Talk', P&G’s director of global company communications Damon Jones said in a statement. “These real-life conversations about conscious and unconscious bias are too common in homes across the country and weigh heavily on parents and children of many different backgrounds. We take seriously the opportunity to spark dialogue on what we all can do to put an end to the harmful effects of bias, and motivate true change.” Campaigns like these show that brands today have to look beyond their core product or industry to connect with their audiences. And even more importantly, they have the opportunity to use their influence that changes lives and impacts society at large.
So, next time you’re looking to connect with someone like me (who could blame you?), think about your brand purpose, the most suitable platform for your brand and the best way to navigate the ever-changing and unpredictable environments that resonate with Generation Z.
It also goes without saying, but you should also aim to spark a reaction, which is where we come in. We pride ourselves on our ability to think in a different and, dare we say it, sometimes controversial way. If you’re looking to reach today’s creative youth, slide into our DMs, or even better, drop me a line to see how we can help!