In this extraordinarily challenging time, we’ve all had to adapt to far-reaching changes in the way we live, consume, work and socialize. For Gen Z, who are living through the pandemic during their formative years, life has been particularly challenging.
Despite the challenges, there is one thing that hasn’t changed: the need for social person-to-person contact. And in some ways Gen Z may be better equipped to deal with being physically apart, because they have always been connected to friends, family and culture online. In the wake of the COVID-19, our research found that almost three quarters (71%) of Gen Z said they are socializing with friends and family virtually, and plan to do so going forward.
Whether it’s TikTok, Snapchat or YouTube, they have grown up with their whole world at their fingertips. That’s why influencer marketing is so effective after all. We know the faces in the feed that slow the scroll. Get that right and a company can effectively “personify” the brand, giving it a unique personality that consumers can really fall for. .
A good example is Otherland, a direct-to-consumer candle company that created a series of “fireside chats” offering people advice from its network of female influencers and entrepreneurs from inside their own homes, on topics like creating a home sanctuary and mood-boosting activities.
Prior to the pandemic, Gen Z was already comfortable with being online. With smartphones an arm’s length away, this hyper-connected generation has grown up exploring the latest apps and platforms to pass the time. Companies looking to engage Gen Z should aim to create innovative brand experiences that extend beyond pure entertainment.
As well as buying online, Gen Z are using omnichannel services like digital chat and virtual consultations. It calls for companies to get more creative, experimenting with new ways of engaging online and marketing strategies that promote products and activities that will continue to appeal, even after the pandemic passes. We’re already seeing this in the beauty industry, with brands connecting consumers with professionals via text or video chat and testing colors using virtual try-on and diagnostic tools.
We are also seeing an opportunity for brands to be “edu-tainers,” engaging Gen Z as they look for ways to develop new skills or enhance their knowledge and education. Look at how cookware brand Equal Parts is helping people make meals out of what they already have in their kitchens with its “Text-a-Chef” service.
In what is fast becoming the “experience economy” -- where people will likely spend less on things and invest more time on things to do -- companies will need to focus efforts on developing superior experiences. That means moving away from a traditional product and transactional focus.
This pandemic has created an opportunity for companies to attract and engage with consumers in creative and innovative new ways. And just as people are seeking to change for the better in this new era, so can businesses.