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IDEAS. STRATEGY. TACTICS. INNOVATION. INSPIRATION.

How Brands Can Engage With Gen Z: The Largest Generation on Earth



With their enormous spending power and a specific set of ingrained but evolving values, Gen Z is changing the way companies do business. How do you scale commerce with them, build meaningful communities and embrace their approach to culture? Quynh Mai, CEO of Moving Image & Content, a digital agency that uses compelling narratives and cutting edge technology to craft campaigns that connect brands with their audiences, shares her insights on how to both target and embrace this enormously influential group.


Why Gen Z Is So Powerful? Gen Z has incredible power and influence right now. Even though the oldest are 24-years-old and the youngest, just eight, they have a current spending power of $143 billion. There are so many of them that they influence household spending by $600 billion and they influence culture at large - their friends, their parents, their grandparents. They are the largest and most culturally diverse demographic and make up 32% of the global population.


They Understand Social Media Is A Tool For Change: They were literally born with an iPad in their cradle. They not only understand social media, they know how to use it to make a difference. This gives them unprecedented influence across generations, category and culture.




What Do They Want From Brands?

  • They Expect Things to Be Real: How do we embrace this youth culture? First, we have to embrace their value systems. You have to understand that they really trust each other over institutions. They think perfection is passe and actually reject it. For brands crafting marketing or advertising campaigns, think deeply about this. For example, Gen Z trust companies more if their content isn't photoshopped. This generation wants to accept themselves as they are, and are cognizant of the mental health issues associated with striving to be something they're not.

  • They Want Honesty Over Hype: Brands need to think about how to amplify their messaging via influencers and the customers themselves. Paid advertising still works for many things, mainly driving site traffic, especially in digital, but you have to build brands the old-fashioned way, you have to create a strong, powerful message that cuts through, and you have to gain credibility by getting people to share your brand message to their friends and cohorts.

  • They Demand Shared Values. This concept is on the rise. Because they really understand that the power is in the purchase, they really vote with their dollars. They understand that every purchase has to provide a purpose for the world and they feel like they can change the world. And that brands have the responsibility to do it with them, merely because they've bought products from us. They expect brands to contribute to society's impact.

  • Think About Gen Z As A Niche Cultural Mindset Versus A Demographic: Pop culture belongs to them, and they will bend it to their will. To build trust and loyalty you have to align to their values and amplify your messaging through the people and channels they use. Using creative storytelling and authentic messaging, adapting to the new channels as a way to be collaborative.

Pop culture belongs to them, and they will bend it to their ways. To build trust and loyalty you have to align to their values....

How Does Gen Z Think About Shopping?

  • Shopping Isn’t Transactional for Them. They like the idea of shopping as entertainment. They frequeny places like The NTWRK, a social shopping app that drops products, much like street wear does. People can come on NTWRK and talk with one another, share and freak out about products, and have this collective experience through shopping that is bringing the fun back into buying.

  • They Use Fintech for Purchasing. They like buying things and making micro payments over time. This area is expected to grow substantially to $305 billion by 2025. This is how you're going to convert sales, by giving them the chance to split the cost of your product over a longer period. .

  • Virtual Events Are The Next Untapped Opportunity. Whether access to giveaways or live interactivity, this is such a great way for brand builders and media companies to build this audience. They are super users - these are the people who will really love you, and will talk about you and share their experience with so many others.


Company Policy And Culture Considerations

  • Know The Importance of Community: Young consumers crave belonging more than any other generation and they're looking for community in their place of work. They define community as a feeling of fellowship, common values, having interests and shared goals and companies need to create a strong sense of belonging in their organizations, whether remote or otherwise.

  • Longevity: For the first time since 2016, young people are also more interested in staying longer at their current employers than in the past. But their standards are high and how you treat employees really matters. Every action counts. So even in this current time where a lot of hard decisions have been made about furloughs, layoffs, downsizing, pay cuts, benefit changes, again, cultural changes, what are the actions you're taking to share the company's common values?

  • Nurture Talent And Give Them a Voice: For Gen Z, participation is a key expectation. Managers almost need to become coaches and reinvent through a lens of togetherness and mutual collaboration.


Find Quynh Mai on LinkedIn.