Were still learning about Gen Z, born between 1995 and 2010, but the race is already on to engage this generation of digital, resourceful realists. If not to sell to them directly, then to influence them to, in turn, influence their Gen X parents to view brands favorably.
Why the imperative to create brand relationships with kids still in elementary and middle school? One reason. Their first language is digital.
As true digital natives (they don’t remember before smartphones) Gen Z has always had access to information—lots of it, in fact, all of it, as far as they can figure. Zs are active players, not just absorbing information, bu shaping it. They influence online content, conversations and, wait for it, brand perception. Gen Zs are having online conversations about brands well before most companies are even thinking about marketing to them. Tweet This
Ready to engage them? Here are a couple of ideas to run with:
1. Talk to Them Like Adults.
Pragmatic realists, Edgers have been raised by Gen X, the original never-sugar-coat-it consumers. Sure, Zs are kids. But whatever your product, don’t oversimplify the issue or skirt the facts. Be straight with them. PSAs are all over this trend. Ads about the dangers of smoking have become increasingly direct and graphic. Ads warning against teen pregnancy pack a punch.
Honesty is essential. We, meaning the grown-ups who work at marketing and branding, simply can’t fake it with this bunch. They expect authentic conversations with our brands. They will expect to be heard. Having grown up with smartphone and IPads in their hands, Edgers engage with brands, not just like brands or trust brands, but engage with them at a visceral-digital level.
if Zs tweet us about an idea or a product, we better be tweeting back, like, now. And the tweet must be personal, responsive, honest.
2. Make Something, or Help Them Make Something.
Edgers are DIY entrepreneurs. Children of The Maker Movement, they will bond with brands that help them innovate and create solutions. Have you noticed all those news pieces about elementary school kids building 3-D printers and teens designing self-driving cars? Maybe it's time to ally with a Maker Educational Initiative. Put your brand all over it. There is no more positive way for a Z to come to know you than while building something or sharing her project with other geek-kid hacker-types. Tweet This
That’s the kind of marketing (or something more than marketing) that’s great for your brand, and good for all of us as we find our way through a high-tech, high stakes era of history.
President of Generational Edge, Amy Lynch has written and spoken about the generations for 15 years. She has spoken to 100s of groups from MTV and Comcast to Boeing, J&J and the staff of the U.S. Senate. Amy has been quoted in national publications, including The Washington Post, USA Today, Boston Globe, Huffington Post, Chicago Tribune and NBC Evening News, among others.