Written by Lily Barnes • Published 23rd July 2018 • 4 minute read

As communicators we’re forever trying to research and understand our chosen target audience. More commonly the discussion has orientated around ‘Millennials’ but there is a new emerging audience; ‘Generation Z’. And they’re going to change everything in the world of communication.

It’s hard to define Generation Z (or Gen Z) but researchers typically use the mid-1990s to mid-2000s as starting birth years. This means that most of Gen Z have used the internet since a young age. They are generally comfortable with technology, using social media and are commonly used to having information at the touch of a button.

Gen Z has been described as ambitious, money-savvy and more socially-aware than other generations. In fact, 80% of Gen Z is said to have a greater tendency to buy products that have a positive social or environmental impact. This generation is also said to be more diverse and even less willing to accept stereotypes. For many brands this is important to shift their perspective accordingly and reflect it in their marketing.

So, with all this complexity, how can brands connect with Generation Z?

Gen Z’ers were born social. In fact, nearly 92% of Gen Z has a digital footprint. Arguably as a result of the celebrities and media they follow, Gen Z are willing to become unique through the brands they do business with. This generation is constantly bombarded by adverts as they spend a great amount of time online but in a 2016 poll, only 59% of Gen Z’ers said they followed an advertisement online before making a purchase, and 71% of Millennials said the same.

To connect with this generation, it’s not enough for brands to just say or want to have an impact. Companies now have to align their brand and services with a cause that matters with impactful core values. Companies’ marketing messages need to be clear about what they stand for so that their brands are not interpreted as uninvolved in or opposed to social causes important to Gen-Z’ers.

In order to be successful, marketers must work on strategies that incorporate the platforms Gen Z’ers use most. That means developing a strategy for Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. In Gen Z’s ever-multitasking online world, brands have to be fluent and fluid with their social media tactics.

What type of Marketing should you use?

Influencer marketing has increasingly become a lucrative advertising revenue generator for brands and businesses. Product reviews, tutorials and “how-to” videos are a great way to market products to an engaged audience. We see a rise in brands collaborating with influencers because they know how to grab the power of social media and use their credibility to affect their followers’ views (and even their purchasing decisions). Gen Z value influencers for their authenticity, their endorsement is valuable and therefore it gives a human feel to a brand. Brand awareness is the main reason many brands focus on influencer marketing, as it is an effective way to reach a wider audience and use an influencer’s (extensive) social reach to promote a product, without being directly involved in its promotion.

The same way you need a website for Millennials, for Gen Z, you must have a YouTube presence. And while most brands understand search engine optimization (SEO) for traditional Google searches, many brands aren’t optimizing search for YouTube. In fact, the same and similar tactics you use on your website need to apply to YouTube in order to engage with Gen Z. You need more than just a presence on YouTube; you need good content. The videos you create and publish must have a clear brand voice as Gen Z loves to follow brands that are funny and personable.

We found that the brands that are experiencing the most success use YouTube as an entertainment platform to tell stories and not just post content intermittently. Chanel for example, with its Beauty Talk, “how to” and backstage video is one of the most successful brands with more than 1 million followers. Another example is the Victoria’s Secret YouTube channel. The channel’s content includes everything from workout videos to backstage glimpses at hair and makeup practices to lipsync videos, all featuring their famous angels. Victoria Secret’s commercials are also regularly posted to the channel.

Can PR help?

When trying to appeal to a young audience, you need to do more than just advertise. You need to create a PR campaign that talks to them. Keep in mind that young audiences want advertising that adds to their life rather than distracts from it. Gen Z are an ambitious bunch and want to make their mark on the world. By showing this generation that you are a vocal, impactful brand you will start to win their support. Gen Z consumers use less traditional media than previous generations and spend most of their time in the digital space.

A PR company can help you break through the noise other brands create by producing a communications strategy that targets both online, social and traditional media outlets. From pairing with influencers, to creating engaging video content, our team of professionals will help you plan and manage your campaign to make sure it creates the impact you’re after.

Find out more about our consumer, business and social media services or discover just how influential your brand is with our communications strategy tool. The Influence Formula.