Any brand that hopes to thrive in today’s market should be reaching out to and engaging the younger generations. This focus is crucial, as Generations Z and Y are forces to be reckoned with. What appealed to older generations is not likely to entice Gen Y or Gen Z. Or will it?
Research has found that what works best is actually a mixed bag of cutting-edge technology and traditional values.
Both groups are known for their love of all things tech, documenting life through selfies and using social media to connect with large networks of friends -- some of whom they have never or rarely seen in person. In addition, they are known for being innovative and wanting to be their own bosses.
Marketers and companies are focusing on the needs and desires of Gen Z, especially as they comprise nearly 70 million children and teens who will be reaching adulthood in the coming years.
Here is a look at five of the top trends companies need to keep in mind when developing technologies and experiences that engage the youngest generations.
1. Authentic brands need to turn the selfie stick inward.
While the “selfie” may have started with the millennials, it was Gen Y that took it to heart. Gen Y and Gen Z fill their social media pages with photos that capture every moment and aspect of their lives. They expect the same from the companies that seek to engage them.
The newest generation will quickly dismiss faceless companies or unrelatable brands. Gen Z especially wants to see companies and brands approach them on their level and interact with them as their friends would. That means showing them what you’re doing right now, behind the scenes. But most of all, it means honesty. Gen Y and Gen Z seek authenticity in those with whom they do business.
They want to connect with real people who represent the brands they buy, and they want to see genuine posts on social media. Anything that feels prearranged or planned will be a turnoff. So show them who you are. But keep it witty and quick. Neither generation is known for long attention spans.
2. Find out where the kids hang out on social media.
A large proportion of Gen Y and Gen Z can be found on Facebook. However, so are their parents, grandparents and teachers. Nowadays, Facebook is only their jumping-off point. The real action is happening elsewhere. If you want to reach these populations, you need to know which platforms are popular. And popularity can change quickly, so stay in the loop.
However, Gen Z and Gen Y are less likely to be coaxed by traditional advertising, and they get annoyed by the overuse of ads on social media. What they do turn to is blogs, reviews and information from those they trust. The best strategies may come from marrying authentic brand advocacy with popular social media -- but it needs to feel real and be unique.
3. Traditional values but mobile state of mind.
Gen Y and Gen Z grew up with cutting-edge technology, but they still covet many of the same values as their elders.
A recent global study by Nielsen shows that most millennials and Gen Zers plan to someday get married, have children and buy a house -- although probably not as early as the older generations did.
Also, contrary to many companies’ assumptions, Gen Z prefers traditional approaches to being recruited for employment, such as having employers engage young people at school. They value long-term job security and overall have more conventional expectations for their employment.
But while conventional values are important to them when it comes to work and life, they also embrace everything mobile and cloud-based. They take for granted wireless communication and always being connected to the larger world through their smartphones and other devices. That desire for constant access and being wired-in and connected will undoubtedly continue to change the tech industry.
4. Quality products over brand loyalty.
Gen Z has been called retailers’ worst nightmare. This is because brand loyalty is on the decline, and they are more likely to bounce from brand to brand than previous generations.
This has much to do with their ability to research the best product and pick quality over brand loyalty, something previous generations were not able to do as easily.
Gen Z isn’t as concerned with keeping up with a brand. They are often looking for the latest trends in products and services. They seek products that cater to their lifestyle, such as wearable tech. Quality is king, and familiarity is passé.
5. Have an impact and make a difference.
One thing that connects the youngest members of society with their elders is their desire to make a difference. However, the young are more impatient to get started, more tolerant of social change and more open to differences.
Gen Z and Gen Y have both grown up aware of public controversies and scandals, not to mention global climate change and increased unease throughout the world. They want to right the wrongs of the world, and they have a wealth of resources available to them, from vast social networks to access to technology.
In addition, growing up in this digital world, they have the prowess to use all the modern resources available to them and be heard.
Both of the youngest generations have made a name for themselves as volunteers and activists, but Gen Z especially is set up to become the next generation of entrepreneurs and creators. They expect the brands and products they buy to embrace and reflect these ideas.