Media branding for Generation Z

James Pass, Managing Director and Creative Principle at JPd, offers his thoughts on future marketing audiences and how to effectively target them…

 “It’s time to be brave enough to tell your story and be ready for an open conversation with your audience.”

With 34% of the UAE market under 24 years old, it is time to realise that what we know about Millennials is no longer enough. Generation Z, those born after 1995, are expected to be the largest group of consumers by 2020, and they portray a whole new set of characteristics and demands. The true characteristics of this category are still being observed and analysed by marketers, and while there is some quite contradicting data, there are still a couple of trends we can underline to prepare your brand for the dynamic consumer of tomorrow.

So what is Generation Z all about? Generation Z are an independent, confident and quite honest consumer group. Young customers have characteristics such as short attention spans and the ability to multitask, – they’re also constantly online. They save money rather than spend, care for the environment, make decisions based on the recommendations of friends and reviews online, and see adverts as a thing of a past. This new consumer is no longer looking for a “YOLO”-style ad campaign or a direct sale, they require a more inspiring, honest and engaging way to communicate with a brand. The market is changing drastically and as a branding agency, we need to be keeping an eye on all the new trends that Generation Z is bringing us today.

When it comes to media segment, there are two essential brand elements we would recommend that you look at: authentic story and social responsibility.

It’s time to be brave enough to tell your story and be ready for an open conversation with your audience. Gen Z is the most bold and confident generation so far and they will connect with brands that have things in common with their own identity and thus help them to express themselves. Companies that embrace a softer side and move away from institutional identities in favour of more personable characteristics, young customers will relate to more.

Generation Z wants to connect with brands on an emotional level, and they won’t speak to a faceless company. It’s time to determine what your company is really about– why it exists in the market and how it benefits the community. This will help you to focus on the right digital platforms and messaging. There are many ways you can open up to your consumer: engage on social media, reveal behind-the-scenes, ask for opinion, replace staged photos and replicated messages with more spontaneous and honest stories, and so on. Just think of it this way: do not push marketing strategies too hard, you will need to co-create with Generation Z, treating them as your partner, not a target audience.

Your social responsibility activities are another tool that can help build your story. Generation Z was born and shaped by a world of risk; from news on global warming to recent financial crises. They see a problem and they aim to fix it. According to recent research, six in 10 of consumers between 16-20 years old prefer to buy products from a company that helps to shape a better world.

As an entrepreneur, I strive to follow my personal beliefs and value them above any financial gain. Following the humanitarian trend from Generation Z, I would encourage companies to think of various ways in which they could utilise their internal resources to make a difference. Be it an Earth hour, paper recycling, being more selective on a client range – would you partner with a company who runs animal testing? – or offering pro-bono or barter services to non-profit organisations. Companies should remain creative and think of different external and internal activities true to their band to contribute in a simple way.