The rules of traditional marketing have been rewritten, all thanks to a young, tech-savvy group of movers and shakers who are scrolling through life with nimble thumbs and an eight-second attention span. It’s a generation over-stimulated by likes, swipes and the convenience of digital immediacy, and for years they’ve represented advertising’s most mysterious demographic.
But, with Gen Z making themselves known, it is time to ask ourselves: What have we learned about this mobile-minded generation and the things that make them tick?
Generation Y has an eye for authenticity and an ad blocker for everything else, but gaining their attention—and more importantly their business—may not be as unattainable as we’ve been led to believe. There’s strong evidence to support the idea that today’s young consumers are more likely to stand behind a brand that stands for something other than their bottom line.
Few brands have captured the hearts of Millennials quite like TOMS did when it launched its buy-one give-one model. By incorporating philanthropy into its brand strategy, TOMS gave consumers a feel-good reason to support their cause.
As attention spans grow shorter, building brand awareness becomes increasingly difficult. According to Micah Sledge, UX director at GS&F, changes in media consumption habits have forced companies to identify more creative ways to build brand affinity.
Remember the LAY’S “Do Us A Flavor” competition? It was an ingenious, real-time marketing campaign that invited fans to create their own flavor of potato chip, elevating LAY’S brand awareness while making the consumer feel involved and empowered.
Today more than ever, consumers are able to create and disseminate original content in a way that allows them to form relationships with the brands they know and support. Research indicates that 46 percent of Millennials post original photos or videos that they themselves have created.1 And as content creators, Millennials offer companies an abundance of marketing material.
One of the most appealing aspects of user-generated content is its instantaneous ability to make brand messaging feel more authentic. Take the Loews Hotel #travelforreal campaign, an advertising initiative that replaced professional models with real hotel guests. By putting consumers at the center of their messaging, Loews was able to give its content a first-person perspective that traditional ads couldn’t.
We have seen Millennials become the largest consumer generation in history—and thanks to their social influence, we’ve also witnessed their ability to shape the buying habits of both older and younger generations. As marketers, we have to continue to shift our attention from revenue to relationships and find a way to connect with consumers in a more meaningful, authentic way.
Gen Z is rapidly outnumbering Millennials and moving into the workforce. In fact, reports show that post-Millennials hold more than $44 billion in buying power.2 So, what’s next? We know they deserve our attention but for now all we can say is, stay tuned.
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