As brands are planning for 2019, they are looking for tactics that can deliver measurable and meaningful impact. At IDM, we pay attention to trends that could have long-term payback if you start investing in them early enough. And we found the trends that are likely to impact marketing in 2019 are closely related to the rising buying power of Generation Z.
Gen Z is already surprising marketers and breaking the mold. A recent study found that 40% of the total spend will come from this group by 2020. As such, brands should strive to reach this demographic early. The importance of this group’s opinions and preferences continues to become evident. So, who are they?
Who Is Generation Z?
As Generation Z begins to come of age, their digital behavior, preferences and cultural outlook will begin to factor more prominently in the marketing landscape. Though not entirely different from the generation that precedes them, a recent GlobalWebIndex survey found several differences worth noting between Generation Z and millennials:
• Gen Z spends more time on social media.
• You probably won't reach Gen Z on Facebook -- they prefer Snapchat.
• Gen Z is more brand-conscious and loyal
• Status matters -- brands need to make Gen Z look and feel the part.
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Above all else, brand actions or behaviors appear to matter more than brand statements or proclamations. Because Gen Z has more access to information than previous generations, they are easily able to find out if a brand is acting on its marketing promises. Gen Z is quick to call out brands on social media if they aren't doing enough or are acting unethically. Gen Z’s sense of reality is shaped by the screen, and they have answers for everything by using online intelligence as a natural extension of their brains.
The Rise Of Micro-Influencers
In 2016, influencer marketing spend on Instagram was estimated by eMarketer to reach $570 million. What's more, a 2017 study by gen.video and Geometry Global revealed that consumers trust influencers even more than they do friends or family when it comes to purchasing decisions, paving the way for micro-influencers. A micro-influencer is an everyday person with a social media following of at least 10,000 to 100,000. Because they are more authentic and relatable, they can have tremendous sway over the opinions of their audiences.
While brands have less control over a micro-influencer’s output because of their commitment to their personal brand and authenticity, their niche visibility and reach -- along with lower cost -- make them a wise investment.
For instance, we recently managed a partnership between Carrie Rad and O’right shampoos. Carrie is a micro-influencer on YouTube and Instagram, and she incorporated the shampoo brand into a video on how to get your life together after traveling. This is optimal because her audience looks to her for self-care and wellness tips, so the placement feels natural. This kind of placement builds brand awareness while also establishing trust in the brand.
As made evident by the latest Nike campaign with Colin Kaepernick, Gen Z consumers are increasingly focused on supporting businesses they believe are purposeful. To gain Gen Z’s support, a company’s actions must closely match their stated purpose. This generation is adept at making choices about purpose and values. An effect of being surrounded by technology and digital content for their entire lives, they also know how to filter out content that lacks relevance and purpose to them.
If two products are equal in price and function, a corporate purpose may be a deciding factor in which brand Gen Z consumers will buy from and advocate for. Community consciousness is a defining characteristic of this generation, and they use their digital aptitude and influence to get behind initiatives they believe will make a difference in the future.
Marketers have to work harder than ever before to outsmart the competition. The art of engagement is now down to a science, and with the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), a lot of marketing tasks like media placement and campaign optimization will likely become automated. The key is to look ahead to anticipate Gen Z's future digital needs and give them instant satisfaction while keeping them engaged and connected.
To start, consider revisiting your brand positioning and messaging to evaluate how well you're able to relate to this generation of consumers in terms of transparency and authentic messaging. If your company is already employing marketing technology to reach Gen Z by tailoring your messaging to what matters to them, then you'll need to continue pushing harder to appeal to this group. However, if your company does not tailor communications to this audience, you should make it a priority if Gen Z is your target. As with everything else, Gen Z will push our society to revisit our beliefs and our boundaries, including how authentic brands are.