Talkwalker and Khoros Intelligence investigates the nature of GenZ and what makes them tick.
Every marketer has their eye on GenZ. Why wouldn't they? Some numbers presume their spending power to range from $29B to an incredible $143B per year. But while GenZ loves to spend, they're not easily swayed by any fancy product in the market. It takes alot more than that to make them open their wallets.
Back in the day, a product with a stellar marketing campaign was enough to get sales. Now, the new generation looks at brands through a different light. And on top of that, their brand loyalty is fickle. One small mistep and your brand is left for dead in their eyes. Such complexities have many marketers scratching their head on how best to connect with them. This is why Khoros Intelligence and a Khoros deep listening partner, Talkwalker, published a report that unravels the phenomenon known as GenZ.
GenZ (born between 1997-2012) were meant to begin adulthood in a thriving economy but the Coronavirus flipped the script. They are now suffering stunted career growth and limited spending opportunities. This economic moment is when the younger group of Gen Z (ages 11-17) will first start influencing buying behavior in their household and the older group (ages 18-25) will shape their buying habits in the early days of their first job. In these times of economic uncertainty, GenZ will be spending consciously and with brands that align with their values.
Because this generation grew up on the internet, they're able to shape the digital landscape. Other generations and brands turn to Gen Z to decide where to go next (e.g. TikTok) and how to spend money. This influence gives Gen Z the power to push trends faster than ever before.
For GenZ, a purchase isn't purely transactional. It's a show of support for the brand's values and what they stand for. At the same time, they're also willing to pay for personalized, quality experiences, despite the cost. They look for brands that not only speak to their personality but can also help amplify and make it unique. It's a deeper connection for them than just buy and use.
With new and new platforms showing up everyday, it's difficult to understand which platforms are successful. The study noted that a key indicator in identifying success is through the platform's ability to create connection and community. During conversational analysis, it was noted that when Gen Z is talking about their on-platform experiences and what matters to them most, having fun and fostering genuine connections emerge as key conversation trends. For Gen Z, exclusivity and uniqueness will always draw attention but what keeps it is the ability to connect with real people.
The three factors driving platform adoption for GenZ are
In order for brands to be able to connect with their audience, they have to reach them where they are, i.e. the social media platforms. But, brands have to assess multiple factors before beginning to create messaging for that platform. Is the audience that uses that specific platform their target audience? Can they create content that truly speaks to the platform’s purpose? The study has shared some pointers brands can keep in mind.
Stay current and active
Brands need to keep an eye on new platforms and track their adoption, in order to strategically invest time, energy and resoources. Jumping on trends is a great way to garner attention and build connection but it's important to make sure that the attempt is relevant and meaningful. Remember, this audience is not easily swayed and can smell phony from a mile away. The consequences of being caught can be deadly.
Know your audience and speak to them
It's important for brands to research and spend time on the platform and its audience in order to truly connect with them. Each emerging platform appeals to its audience for different reasons. Gen Z in particular tends to be critical of companies who appear to jump on a platform or trend just for the sake of it. So, avoid this by creating content that speaks directly to a cross-section of your brand’s typical audience and the platform’s user base.
Be creative and authentic
It's important to make sure that you’re creating original, tailored work that feels authentic to the content that others are sharing. Emerging platforms aren’t a place to recycle content from other channels or push out highly polished looks.
COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the way we shop and discover new products. When it comes to brand loyalty, GenZ is loyal to brands who's products are convenient, affordable and align with individual values and beliefs. According to the study, GenZ has also proven their ability to adapt and drive adoption of new payment methods such as the “buy now, pay later” model. This model has grown rapidly in popularity over the past year as a favorite e-commerce payment method among Gen Z. In fact, the past three months make up 36% of the total “buy now, pay later” conversation occurring within the past year.
The growth in popularity of this model is due to the fact that their income hasn't been consistent the past year. Deferred payment solutions allow them to have instant gratification without the burden of the upfront cost. Retailers need to pay close attention to this trend in the long term.
Gen Z are also conscious of their carbon footprint. They like to purchase from brands that are mindful of the environment and invest in sustainable practices. There's no question we've seen a rise in the amount of sustainable brands in various sectors. From a business point of view, investments are beginning to pour in for sustainable startups.
As mentioned earlier, GenZ has a deep connection with the brands they buy from. GenZ purchases from brands that align with their values. Brands need to reciprocate this in their communication strategies. Hencey, why we're seeing a rise in purpose-driven marketing. But brands need to be wary of not turning those conversations around purpose-driven marketing into bottom line efforts, product or service sales or even link clicks. The minute the tables turn, you've lost your audience.