“The promise of social technologies has always been about connecting people not shouting at them, and brands that don’t do this, risk their very existence.” ~ Rob Tarkoff, CEO of Lithium Technologies.
Every generation is different. Historically, this can’t be curbed and is unlikely to change. As age mellows us – and certainly as we grow older – our needs and perceptions alter, aligning us more with our parents than we’d probably like to acknowledge. However, the current technological revolution in communication is forcing marketers to recognise a seismic shift in how they approach younger generations – and it’s not just about which media channels to use.
Millennials and Generation Z
Are they the same? Depending who you talk to, the age numbers vary: Millennials slot in between twenty and late thirties and Generation Z perhaps from as young as 11 to 20 years old. Certainly, both groups are digitally savvy, but the differing age gap is important. You can’t compare a 15-year-old with a 35-year-old – they simply don’t necessarily share or appreciate the same content. The best way to sieve out the difference is to consider what Generation Z prefers:
- Influencer marketing: Extremely popular with teenagers, influencers may or may not be celebrities, but their content can outperform many brands. The darlings of YouTube offer trust and authenticity and their audiences become fiercely loyal. However, these are unlikely to be the same influencers who attract Millennials.
- Gen Z are not yet part of the working world and, therefore, have less money to spend online. To connect more successfully with online shoppers, you would look to target the older Millennials.
- Attention spans differ: 12 seconds for Millennials and only 8 for Gen Z. So, it’s the slick and the quick that will capture their eye. Messages should be nifty, clever but short and simple. GIFs are extremely popular with this generation.
- Gen Z loves authenticity: they like to feel involved, as though they really know the person behind the camera. No fiction masking facts. Empathy can only be elicited through a feeling of reality and connection.
- Unlike Millennials, they don’t particularly care for loyalty programmes. They prefer to make independent choices without feeling as though they are being forced to adhere to one particular brand against another. They want what they want when they want it and want to engage on their own terms. They’re the younger generation but they seek greater independence.
- Generation Z favours YouTube above all other social media. Visual, moving, exciting, storytelling are all useful play on this medium – a popular channel that presents entertainment on a faster, more pertinent and focused level. Gamify the message and you will have a loyal following.
- Gen Z like to be talked with and not at. Advertising should present experiences that garner trust and openness.
Vive la difference – and quite a lot the same
These subtle differences are important when engaging with either one of the groups. One advertising campaign is unlikely to grab the attention of both generations. Alter, adjust and rethink your approach when attempting to target both these groups with the same product or service. Yet, bear in mind that clear-cut lines between the two are not always that simple. Here are some pointers as to how to address both crowds in one go:
- Both Millennials and Generation Z enjoy the entertainment side of advertising; in particular, humour reaches all souls.
- Emotions that match cultural beliefs and values are still important.
- Millennials might still prefer longer ads, but the effect of music counts as much for both groups – only maybe not exactly the same music.
- More complex editing to create an effect with speed and impact with efficiency is voted a plus by both groups.
However, the consequences of a vast plethora of information moving through a multitude of options, channels and screens like an endless whirling constellation of notable or dismissible moments, cannot be ignored. The canny marketer must be wary of overload – an effect that is beginning to push the limits of acceptance.
Beware of the backlash
The unprecedented degree of stimulation offered by today’s tech-edge communication systems might appear to be a marketer’s dream – but in reality, there is a growing dislike of brand targeting on social media platforms. No more so than that felt by Millennials and Generation Z. Marketers have particular challenges to overcome:
- Millennials and Gen Z have significantly lower rates of unaided recall – meaning much of the message – whether it ticks all the boxes or not – is lost.
- Generation Z is harder to impress and are less likely to think others may like the ad. As a consequence, they are less likely to share the information.
- There is a growing dislike of brand targeting on social media platforms and as a result, users are beginning to abandon some networks.
Consequently, it seems that merely pushing out ads on social media may be less likely to sell than to alienate. In a few years’ time these younger generations are going to reach their prime spending years, so how are marketers going to reach them, take their attention, and leave a lasting impact?
There’s no doubt that alternative methods and channels need to be considered: sponsoring for instance or opportunities for sampling, quirky gamified competitions, taking a community-driven route or introducing events that prove positive environmental benefits. There are probably many innovative formats to bring your message to life, and new channels not yet fully imagined or explored.
Nevertheless, there’s no doubt that change is constant. It will be the marketer with real vision, creativity and acumen who will embrace that change even before the target has fully grasped the possibility of an amazing new experience.
AMcomms – The Can-Do Company
Amidst the clutter out there today – the brand wars, the media hype, the competing platforms – it’s hard to find a steady hand; the kind of innovation that won’t take you off course with ideas that are too bold and complex. The art of marketing is not about the cleverest out there but empathy and connection while making the message authentic but also clear.
Years of experience has given us the leverage to know what we can strategically effect within the dynamic mix of modern communication and well-honed business expertise. At AMcomms, we offer a range of creative solution-focussed services across all media channels and partner with digital and PR agencies to ensure integrated delivery on all our client campaigns.
Learn more about how we can assist you in getting your message out there by viewing the services we have to offer www.thecandocompany.co.za