March 24, 2017 Articles

Think Beyond Millennials: 12 Ways Your Brand Can Engage Gen Z

According to a Barkley and FutureCast survey, members of Gen Z have very different expectations for interacting with or embracing brands than millennials. Gen Z — teens between 15 and 19 — have grown up in a fully connected world, one that lets them interact with advertising, potentially before a very wide audience. As a result, an ill-timed post or false note could deal a serious blow to an ad campaign.

Below, 12 Forbes Agency Council members talk about how brands can best engage with this young demographic, along with what things to avoid.

1. Hire Or Consult Within Gen Z

It’s very simple: The generational gap makes it hard for an older demographic to understand the needs of Gen Z. Chances are very high that if you attempt to do so, you will fail and be the target of jokes within that circle (they are digital natives). Consult actual people within that demographic: Hire them as summer interns, and give them access to create memes or content that’s by Gen Z, for Gen Z. - Kelly Samuel, Qode Media

2. Find Social Currency To Stay Relevant

Rather than merely playing in Gen Z social channels of Snapchat or Instagram, brands must look for social currency that is relevant to these targets. Perhaps it’s social activism or the environment that moves them. Your focus then should be on giving Gen Z a real reason to care and share in your brand’s news, offers and experiences authentically because you care about what they care about. - Daryl McCullough, Citizen Relations

3. Focus On Real, Not Perfect

The unique identity of Generation Z means that brands must keep a finger on their pulse, as Gen Z is all about being fluid. Brands should strive to be real as opposed to perfect, as illustrated by the Gen Z preference of Snapchat over Facebook. Determine the social issues that are important to Gen Z, and understand that they reward brands that espouse the same values. -Bernadette Coleman, Advice Local

4. Listen To Their Voices

Gen Z is interested in real and unique brands, and they expect to be heard. This generation also expects companies to follow through on their promises, and if they feel disappointed, they know how to get their opinions heard on social media. With a $44 billion yearly disposable allowance, it may be good to enhance your listening skills and to hear their voices. - Ahmad Kareh, Twistlab Marketing

5. Let Them Add Their Own Influence And Perspective

Gen Z can be a skeptical audience that will either reject your tightly controlled messaging or make it their own. Instead of focusing on your own brand storytelling, empower this demographic to inform your brand narrative. Relinquish control by giving them the tools to alter your creative and add their own influence and perspective. - Dan LaCivita, Firstborn

6. Expect Two-Way Communications With This Group

Gen Z is less likely to watch live TV and prefer streaming content. They are the largest cohort for video game console usage and still spend an hour a day with radio. Over half are using Snapchat daily, and they are enthusiastic users of Instagram and chat apps like WhatsApp. This group has never lived through a time when brand communication was one-way, so take this into consideration. - Ashley Walters, Empower MediaMarketing