What You Should Know About Gen Z And Branded Video

For nearly a decade, brands have been focusing on Millennials. By now, we all know them pretty well.

Born between 1980 and the mid-1990s, Millennials remember a time before the Internet, but are at ease with rapidly changing technology and media. Millennials were the generation that was told they could be whatever they wanted to be, and then struggled with the realities of entering adulthood during a recession.

But they are old news. Marketers are starting to look ahead to Generation Z, a young generation almost the nothing like the one that came before it.

Gen Z includes those born after 1995 (some say 2000s), which accounts for 2 billion people worldwide. They grew up in a post-9/11 world, which has made them less optimistic than Millennials. Also, they grew up amid a recession, which has made them more frugal and conservative than Millennials. Gen Z is very socially aware and vocal about its ambition to change the world now, through volunteering -- and in the future, through their jobs.

Gen Z-ers are the first true digital natives. They are super-connected, often multitasking across multiple screens, which leads them to communicate with speed (often at a detriment to clarity).

What is concerning for brands, however, is that these young people are already influencing household purchasing decision -- and yet, they aren’t brand-loyal. How, then, do brands connect with them?

A new report from Sparks & Honey offers some sage advice for reaching Gen Z:

  • Depict them as diverse, in every sense of the word – ethnically, in sexual orientation, style, etc.
  • Talk in images.
  • Communicate in frequent releases of “snackable content.”
  • Give them control, with features like preference settings.
  • Tell stories across multiple screens.
  • Tap in to their entrepreneurial spirit.
  • Talk to them about value: the cost, sourcing, and sustainability of a product.
  • Give them a social cause to fight for.

The good news is that advertising trends are already pointing brands in a direction that speaks to Gen Z. Native advertising, for instance, gives the choice and control of content that they demand. And brands are experimenting on platforms like Vine and Snapchat that allow for frequent, fast communication.

On the content front, many of this year’s most popular branded videos have spoken to social issues that Gen Z-ers are passionate about. The outpouring of campaigns from nonprofits like Save the Children speak to global issues of that this generation is eager to change. Even campaigns from for-profit companies like Verizon and start-up GoldieBlox -- both of which mention educating girls -- speak to Gen Z’s drive as activists and entrepreneurs.

Despite the fact that some brands are moving in the right direction to engage Gen Z, it’s evident that there is more work to be done. To connect with Gen Z, more brands need to craft stories that communicate the brand while speaking to a bigger purpose.

Brands need to consider the seamlessness with which Gen Z-ers move from one screen to the next. They need to think about how to convey value and sustainability across their industries. They need to find a way to ensure loyalty among a generation that is not-brand loyal.

Some brands have more time than others to figure all of this out, but no brand should wait too long. Gen Z will have the greatest purchasing power on the planet before we know it.

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