Emojis and “shipping” are two big content draws for those looking to engage GenZers, according Cannes panelists who gathered Tuesday. It’s the kind of content that Gen Z actively seeks out, per the panel.
Research shows that most Generation Zers (broadly defined as those between the ages of 2 and 20) use emojis given their widely held belief that communication is more about visual cues than words.
According to the panelists, content creators targeting Gen Z need to mindful that, unlike previous generations, this group considers itself to be storytellers.
“The expectation is that things are created for you in mind and you are part of the process,” says Maya Peterson, director, Velocity Culture and Creative Insights, Viacom Velocity. They see themselves on the same level as brands and celebrities.
Another hook is leveraging social causes and issues, like bullying.
And one type of content taking off particularly with younger consumers is "shipping," the practice of taking fictional or non-fictional people not in a relationship and creating a wished-for relationship. The result is heavily documented fake relationships.
One example: the fake relationship between two singers Louis and Harry from the group One Direction. Widely consumed content has fooled many into believing they are actually a real couple. "The reason people ship is there isn't enough content for them," says Jordan Press, head of entertainment partnerships, Wattpad.
He adds that the field has exploded within the LGBTQ community, in part because TV programs typically only focus on male-female romances, so shippers will link up other characters together on their own. "There are millions of stories created in this new world," says Press. CW is now looking into shipper fan fiction for upcoming seasons.
Turner's eSports league — where millions of people watch other people play competitive games — worked with Arby's to promote a new sandwich by giving players the opportunity to blow up an Arby's during a first-person shooter game. It's important to not only be authentic to get in the door with Gen Zers, but this realness rewards brands as marketers, says David Beck, EVP, corporate strategy & operations, Turner.
Panelists briefly discussed the challenges to marketing everyday goods like toilet paper since Gen Z wields massive influence, controlling 93% of all household purchases. "I would say a good starting point is getting to know them and getting to know what they care about," says Harley Block, EVP, head of brand partnerships, Awesomeness.