By Jillian Peyton
Establishing a unique, memorable brand is not easy in today’s highly competitive market. The media landscape is evolving daily, and creative teams struggle to match the pace of change while maintaining a unique identity that matches their brands’ identities.
All the while, brands trying to emulate the latest trends risk being outperformed by competitors with similar messaging. For real success, a brand must outwit, outsmart and be more imaginative than its competition. On top of that, a brand must beat others to the punch.
According to a study by The Center for Generational Kinetics, Gen Z, consisting of those born between 1997 and 2010, is the most “Internet-dependent generation,” and therefore, the generation with the most exposure to digital media. Understanding the latest trends is second nature for Gen Z, which has unbeatable expertise in the ever-changing media landscape.
“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”
– Seth Godin
How Gen Z Can Help Your Brand
Because of Gen Z’s youth, you may hesitate to trust them with the fate of your brand’s success. However, Gen Z is the first generation of true digital natives, and those with an interest in marketing and communications have the potential to revolutionize your brand’s image.
Having always grown up with the Internet and social media, Gen Z is accustomed to the constant development of new media platforms and shifting consumer expectations. Gen Z is already known to quickly adapt to new social media trends and corporate social responsibility expectations.
Social Media Trends
Gen Z is familiar with all social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok and BeReal. As social media platforms come and go, Gen Z quickly adapts and creates engaging content.
For consumers to be receptive to brands, creative teams must recognize social media’s capability to bridge the gap between brands and consumers. Gen Z appreciates this element in their own targeted messaging, and according to Sprout Social, Gen Z hopes to “interact with brands beyond the storefront.”
Recognizing the need for brands to connect more with consumers on a personal level, Gen Z marketers only beginning their careers have already implemented this strategy in their content, simultaneously affirming their undeniable creativity.
For example, Duolingo, an app for learning languages through self-paced lessons, has a TikTok account managed by Zaria Parvez, a Gen Z marketer who graduated in 2020. Duolingo targets Gen Z consumers through its TikTok, and its content distinguishes the brand from competitors through humorous (and unhinged) videos.
As of October 2022, Duolingo’s TikTok has 4.9 million followers, and the account has earned more than 97 million likes. None of the brand’s competitors, such as Rosetta Stone (430 TikTok followers) or Babbel (22,300 TikTok followers), distinguished themselves in such an organic, creative way that ignited consumer engagement and interest.
By choosing Parvez to manage its TikTok, Duolingo recognized the potential of a Gen Z marketer to creatively revolutionize its brand and help it stand out amongst competitors.
Corporate Social Responsibility
People of all ages expect brands to engage in authentic corporate social responsibility. In response, brands like Patagonia have increased their efforts to improve sustainability and support underserved communities.
According to public relations firm Edelman’s research, 70% of Gen Z is involved in a social or political cause. Across the globe, Gen Z has been at the forefront of political activism, including movements such as March For Our Lives and School Strike for Climate.
Gen Z is passionate, unafraid to stand up for its beliefs and can emphasize your brand’s dedication to social responsibility and change through actionable and authentic means.
Some companies may be wary of the possibility of invoking criticism by establishing the social responsibility important to their brand; however, in the long run, people remember actions better than words. Allowing Gen Z to align your brand with the company’s most meaningful causes will essentially be both rewarding and unforgettable.
Next Steps: Trust Gen Z to Make Your Brand Remarkable
We know trusting young advertising and public relations professionals with your company’s image can be daunting, but the outcome will surprise you.
Your company needs the support of a team who truly understands the shifting intricacy of the media landscape. Gen Z not only understands change, but they thrive with it. Without missing a beat, Gen Z can learn how to succeed with any new media platform and connect with your audience by understanding their most important needs.
Creative teams worldwide are trying to accomplish the same goal for their brand, making it increasingly difficult for any brand to catch the public’s interest. Simultaneously, the public is growing increasingly distrustful of any brand messaging, instinctively ignoring most brand messaging they encounter.
Gen Z understands this mindset, and they can easily distinguish between authenticity and baseless promises. Further, Gen Z is the first generation of true digital natives accustomed to constant change, innovation and shifting consumer expectations.
Because of this, Gen Z understands worthwhile content, and they know how to produce and deliver it through your brand in the best possible way. With so many competitors seeking the same outcome, Gen Z’s unmatched confidence and creativity are priceless.
By allowing Gen Z to take the reins, your up-and-coming brand can undergo a positive transformation, cutting through the noise of competitors and catching the eye of your audience.