THE BLOG
06/15/2016 05:50 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Keep It Real: How To Appeal To Generation Z

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By Robin Bade, Founding Partner, Mirum

Millennials this, millennials that.  It’s time to put the spotlight on Generation Z, a demographic who straddle high school to university.  They are the first generation to be true digital natives and make up about a quarter of the UK and US population.

Open minded and politically and socially engaged for Generation Z, digital and technology is the norm.  It is their playground.  They use the internet to create, connect and change, not just browse it to find out what Bieber is doing post Monaco Grand Prix.

More importantly, they can smell BS a mile off.  With that in mind, how can brands reach them effectively?

Crystal balls

Ethically minded Generation Z like to understand processes.  If they use your tech, they want to know you are doing right by the world, so stashing cash under the mattress when you should be paying tax is a no-no.  Brands should be upping the transparency stakes.  Even if you are in the business of serving up dead flesh, you should be informing your customers about your animal welfare policies.

Chipolte is a great case.  In 2013 they became the first national restaurant chain to voluntarily disclose the presence of GMOs in their products and last year, switched to serving food solely made with GMO free ingredients.

Enjoy, don’t sell

With so many subcultures in operation, the path from subculture to commerce is short and Generation Z certainly don’t appreciate their scenes being stolen and manipulated to farm a quick buck…

Employ people from Generation Z to speak with their peers in a genuine manner.

YouTubers are crucial to selling product through placement and connecting with Generation Z in a way celebrities can’t.  However, all too often brands approach YouTube as if they were making a traditional advert.  Let the YouTuber control the creative.  They won’t be interested in tricking the viewers into buying something they have no interest in whatsoever. 

Gleam Futures helps Asda on one of their YouTube channels. The supermarket has zero editorial control and the resulting, Mum’s Eye View, promotes the supermarket while fitting naturally into the work the YouTubers do.

PS.  How not to do it, is examined in the @BrandsSayingBae twitter feed, which ridicules brands trying to be fleek and falling flat on their face.

Sexual orientation is shifting

Generation Z celebrate a fluidity of sexuality.  They prefer not to be categorized. Accordingly, brands should take a gender neutral approach when trying to appeal to them.  Selfridges introduced unisex shopping spaces to help promote its Agender, genderless clothing line. 

Omnichannel shopping

If it’s on the website it should be in the store as well.  Generation Z will harvest ideas from multiple online channels and be happy to make the purchases using an app but would still rather pick up the goods at the store. 

They are looking for instant gratification, avoiding the wait.  Amazon Prime Now offers 1 and 2 hour delivery services in selected cities across the globe.

Brands need to be firing on all cylinders when it comes to making on and offline work seamlessly and should not concern themselves with whether a Generation Z converts in store or via a tap of the touchscreen, as long as they convert with them.

And while traditional offline brands are moving into the digital arena, online brands will also see gains being made if they move offline.  The personal relationship is still key and it’s what Generation Z are looking for. 

In addition to this, a physical space allows brands to create cool and non-traditional experiences for its shoppers. Amazon recently opened up its first bricks and mortar outlet in Seattle’s University Village and chief executive, Jeff Bezos, has recently announced he plans to continue this trend.   

Holistic thinking and omnichannel is key.  It should be as natural to brands as it is to Generation Z and in achieving this brands should hang out with the kids…

What next?

Generation Z is smart, global and only influenced by their peers.  With this in mind, don’t attempt to speak their language, give it the hard-sell or hijack what’s rightfully theirs.  Quit trying so hard.  Be good, be honest and let them do the work.