Generation Z, born between 1996 and 2012, has come of age in a time marked by incredible political and social upheaval. The last two decades have seen the rise of gun violence and mass shootings, especially in schools, racial injustice reckoning through the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery (among many others), a once in a century global pandemic, environmental disasters, and more. Gen Z’s “oldest” group, born in the 1990s, can remember 9/11 as one of its first memories.
All these events have drastically influenced the way Gen Z acts with their votes and with their wallets. This blog will help brands navigate the complicated social and cultural implications to marketing, the importance of adding authenticity to brand voice and advertising, and how to capitalize on the rise of influencer marketing.
Trends in Gen Z
Gen Z is the generation most likely to take political action or to speak up for themselves for what they perceive as preserving their future. This can be seen in climate advocates like Greta Thurnberg (19), political advocates like Malala (25), and gun control advocates like the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students who launched the March for our Lives campaign in 2018. Many of these advocates have said they feel the previous generations have failed them and left them with an uncertain future, giving them no choice but to be a champion for themselves.
This has led to a change in political communication for many politicians and brands alike. As discussed in a recent blog post on brands and communicating Roe v. Wade, Gen Z has made it clear to organizations who want their vote or their money that their social and political responses matter to them, and influence their voting and spending habits. More and more, Gen Z demands authenticity.
As digital natives, Gen Z is highly skilled in spotting disinformation in an era of fake news. They are less inclined to spend time on Facebook, often littered with false information and perceived as the social media for older generations. Instead, Gen Z social media habits reflect a greater need for genuine interaction with peers, brands, and the new “middle man,” content creators. According to YPulse, Gen Z audiences trust Youtubers and other content creators the most for authentic information, especially on brand information.
This opens brands to increased collaborations with Youtube and TikTok content creators, who can deliver product information to a highly targeted audience, also called influencer marketing. The public relations field has always utilized experts in their field to build trust with their audiences. In an era of influencer marketing, brands should capitalize on the direct-to-consumer approach by identifying qualified content creators who appeal to their targeted audiences.
- Join the right platforms with the right audiences. With Gen Z, visibility is key and familiarizing your brand with Youtube, TikTok, Twitch, and more is the first step.
- Select influencers that fit your niche. One-size-fits-all marketing tactics are less effective because Gen Z audiences demand authenticity and relatability within their brands. Target influencers who fit the needs of your audiences.
- Experiment! Trending TikToks can elevate any page if done right. Don’t be afraid to get silly, as it’s a representation of a willingness to experiment and to show authenticity.
Want more guidance? Get a personalized recommendation from us on how to get started in working and communicating with Gen Z. We can help you identify micro-targeting techniques, create a comprehensive influencer marketing plan, and break into emerging forms of social media to elevate your brand voice.
Emerson Street Media is a trusted Washington, DC based public relations agency focused on tailoring results for you, and can help your company build out an influencer marketing plan targeted to your specific audience needs. By leveraging our capabilities and expertise along with a team of communications specialists from around the country, we can develop and execute your comprehensive communications plan, produce an impactful video that will compel action, lead you through a crisis and so much more.