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On YouTube, TikTok and Ben & Jerry’s: Five undeniable truths about Marketing to Gen Z

On YouTube, TikTok and Ben & Jerry’s: Five undeniable truths about Marketing to Gen Z

By Jeff Fromm
President, Futurecast

Marketing to Gen Z: take the approach that you may not know everything you think you do about this powerful consumer contingent. The COVID-19 pandemic has inflicted unforgettable damage on Gen Z's lives: They'll never look the same at work, school, or even the way they socialize. Pre-COVID strategies for marketing to them are also changed forever.  After all, Gen Z comprises a significant percentage (40 percent) of total U.S. consumers, and wields a staggering clout for buying ($143 billion). What can you learn from the changes the pandemic has brought to help you better connect with Gen Z consumers moving forward?  

Consider these truths about Gen Z consumers and uncover more powerful ways to connect with them.

  1. Entertainment IS news to at least half of Gen Z consumers. According to a Morning Consult report titled "Understanding Gen Z," which interviewed 1,000 18-21 year olds, essentially half of Gen Z adults (49 percent) get the vast majority of their news from social media (including YouTube and TikTok), as compared to 17 percent of older adults. Only 12 percent of Gen Z gets most of their news on television, compared to 42 percent of all other adults. Statistically speaking, this kind of disparity is huge. What can you learn from YouTube and TikTok?
  2. Gen Z trust in larger institutions is on the decline. In two months of tracking for Morning Consult's "Gen Z Worldview Tracker," the report shows that the average trust rating for 15 major institutions dropped from 56 percent to 46 percent. The largest declines were with the police, the U.S. government, the criminal justice system, and the news media. But brands of all sizes continue to be subject to intense scrutiny by Gen Z. Gen Z consumers can easily sniff out insincerity or incongruity fostered by non-whole brands. Trust with consumers is difficult to earn, but easy to lose. The larger the brand, the larger the trust gap. What are you doing to earn and keep your brand loyalists' trust?
  3. Brand neutrality on societal issues is NO LONGER an option. Gen Z expects the brands it supports to take a stand on social justice issues. Staying neutral out of a lack of vision or fear of offending some consumers is a failing strategy. Today's consumers expect their brands to take a stand on at least some topics. We started to see brands this year that were once considered "social issue neutral" take certain stances that might alienate some of their supporters — with positive impacts. Take a look at NASCAR, which took a chance on banning the use of Confederate flags at its events and properties in June of 2020. While there were some negative reactions among older fans, the majority of NASCAR's fanbase (especially among those younger than 40) was in favor of the ban. What does your brand stand for?
  4. Gen Z trains algorithms (not dogs) to get what they want in their feed. Nearly half (46%) of college students polled claim that they purposefully like, comment on, or share content to "train the algorithms" to give them the content that they're after. One thing to think about: Gen Z is very information-savvy. They like the content they like, and are adept at getting the online content they want (and less of what they don't). How can you help Gen Z get the content they're after in regard to your brand?
  5. This is the Age of Transparency for millennials. Never forget how discerning Gen Z (sometimes referred to as "True Gen") is. They are extremely resourceful at getting the information they want, and at verifying it. This has profound implications for companies in terms of where they stand on social justice, and in terms of what a brand's driving purpose is. How can your brand be more upfront and transparent with your Gen Z consumers?  

Remember never to underestimate Gen Z and its truth-seeking capabilities. If you want to be successful in 2021 in your efforts to market to Gen Z consumers, take direction from the findings above.


Barkley US

Jan 25, 2021

filed under:
Gen Z, Marketing, Media, Millennial, Modern Consumer

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Brand Culture, COVID-19, Gen Z, Marketing, Millennial, Modern Consumer, Purpose, Sustainability, Whole Brands
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