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Marketing to Generation Z: How to Appeal to the Next Consumer Powerhouse (Part 2)

Generation Z is a rising consumer powerhouse. Estimated at two billion globally, they are forecasted to account for 40% of all consumers by 2020.

However, Gen Z is a deeply divided group with unique characteristics, very distinct feelings, ambitions, and rituals. Therefore, it is crucial for retail marketers to develop a deeper understanding from a demographic and psychological standpoint to cement their loyalty and leverage their spending power.  

In part one of this blog we spoke to Cassandra Napoli, Digital Media & Marketing Editor at WGSN about the concerns, influences, buying behavior and trends of Gen Z.

Our conversation continued as we took a deeper dive into how marketers can bridge the divide and attract both sides of the spectrum, the importance of effectively testing and measuring the effectiveness of your marketing messages, and the best ways retail stores can stay relevant to Gen Z in the ‘Age of Amazon’.

Hi Cassandra, we previously discussed the two segments within Gen Z — the style-driven segment known as ‘Gen Me’, and their action-oriented counterparts, ‘Gen We’. Considering their different beliefs, trends, and influences, how can marketers attempt to bridge the gap and appeal to both sides of the spectrum?

Despite Gen Me and Gen We living on polar opposite sides of the spectrum, there are a group of influencers that manage to bridge the divide between the two cohorts. Broken down into four categories—celeb, mass, micro and mock—these accounts are able to float between both sides, appealing to all.

On the celebrity forefront is Rowan Blanchard — a style-driven 16-year-old with a Gen Me aesthetic, who simultaneously uses her platform for good. At age 13, she penned a letter on intersectional feminism.

On the mass side, there’s Emily Elaine Oberg, who is a content creator and streetwear figure who posts selfies beside meaningful messages of sustainability. On the micro front is Sophia Hadjipanteli, who is a selfie-loving Gen Me with very unique facial characteristics. She proudly sports her bold unibrow, redefining beauty standards by embracing vulnerability online.

And finally, there’s mock influencer Lil Miquela—a computer simulated CGI avatar who aesthetically looks the part of any other contoured Gen Me. Where she differs though, is with her roots in activism, advocating for a variety of important causes.

Real time access to analytics that measure the effectiveness of your campaigns will indicate whether you are communicating well within the segments you are targeting and will help craft the perfect communication strategy. 

It is also important to acknowledge that customers with the same demographics might have different purchase tendencies. What advice do you have for marketers that are testing their messages to either the Gen Me or Gen We audience?

By developing a deeper understanding of what will resonate with Gen Z, you can start tailoring your marketing campaigns and messaging. However, whether you are marketing to Gen Me, Gen We, or both, we can’t just assume you are effectively speaking to all customers of a certain cohort. Using a customer analytics platform that can give you insights into purchase cadence, product and channel preferences becomes a very important part of your marketing strategy. Real time access to analytics that measure the effectiveness of your campaigns will indicate whether you are communicating well within the segments you are targeting and will help craft the perfect communication strategy. 

One way to capture the fickle Gen Z audience is to offer up a social gift — an Instagram-worthy sharable moment that will give your brand increased notoriety.

Amazon is a popular topic in the retail world. It has rapidly evolved shopping behavior and is predicted to capture nearly 10 percent of total retail sales by 2020. It is also seen as one of the reasons people are spending more online and less in stores. How can retail stores stay relevant to Gen Z in the age of Amazon?

Retail is in a state of flux right now and brands are scrambling to figure out the right solution to lure customers into the stores and to spend their money. To no one’s surprise or shock, one way to capture the fickle Gen Z audience is to offer up a social gift — an Instagram-worthy sharable moment that will give your brand increased notoriety, while giving consumers value and status amongst/within their own communities.

Designing for Instagram extends beyond beautiful fixtures and displays within a store. Having a share-worthy highly identifiable space that is synonymous with your brand is critical to winning over this cohort (think Glossier’s showroom or the Barneys New York Downtown staircase that rippled across social media when it first opened). Colour is also critical and drives audiences in (think Mansur Gavriel’s pastel-hued boutique spaces). This phenomenon permeates across industry — from food and fashion to beauty and tech.

Another way to succeed is launching special interactive, Insta-friendly brand activations that build hype online and draw large crowds in (turn to The Museum of Ice Cream as a case study worth noting). In the study we say, 'don’t chase culture, create it' - and I think this line holds real value here.

Other retailers like Supreme are thriving, despite Amazon. The long queues outside their stores have indirectly created a type of Gen Z ‘community’, in which the line serves as a place to build connections in a judgement-free zone. However, I think it could be dangerous if others attempt to recreate the ‘Supreme effect’. As much as a brand will try, very few will achieve the same level of hype and success as that of Supreme. They are perhaps the case study of all case studies, mastering the art of exclusivity. But very few brands will be able to mirror what they have managed to do. If stores want to become the premier destination for teenagers to congregate, they should offer up something truly special and unique that attracts kids and encourages them to stay put once there.

Interested in learning more about Gen Z? Read the WGSN white paper here.

To learn more about Custora and how we can help you personalize your messaging and effectively measure the impact of your marketing campaigns, request a free demo here. 

Tagged : interview

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